Hey everybody, welcome back to another exciting adventure in Ye Olde School Café! This time around we’ll be checking out one of my all time favorite stories in Marvel Premiere #10! You know, Dr. Strange has had many battles over the years, and with a myriad of opponents, but this time he faces something that even he had never thought possible. What is this mysterious entity he faces? “By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, Let Magic Reign!” Written by Stan Lee, and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith (July 1972).
Our story begins with Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, as he’s walking down Bleeker Street, and he senses that there is something sinister afoot this evening. A few passersby notice him, but then also notice a truck coming down the street headed straight for him. They shout to him, and he quickly turns and uses a spell to stop the bus, inches before it hits him. He retreats to his Sanctum Sanctorum to gather his thoughts. After contemplating the feelings he’s been having, he summons his master, The Ancient One, to give him guidance. He uses his astral form to speak with his dead master, and finds out that someone known to him is bedeviling him this very night!
After the two talk, Strange comes to the realization that he must find out on his own who this adversary is, but when he tries to leave the room, he cannot. For some reason, he’s trapped in the room. He eventually breaks free, but when he approaches his body, he sees some sort of entity speeding towards it as well. The entity gets there first, possessing his body, and the two begin to battle. After a few minutes of battle, the astral form of Strange wins, and the entity flees before Strange can figure out who it is. He then reunites with his body, but sees that the outside world has gone mad.
He stumbles upon a tree, and inside that tree is the face of none other than himself! It begs for help and then tells him that he will never know peace. He’s on the precipice of going completely mad, but then gathers himself, and consults the Eye of Agamotto for answers. He travels back in time to earlier in the evening, and watches as that same truck in the street races toward him. This time, though, he sees that the truck hit him before he could stop it, and that now he lies in a hospital, having surgery to save his life.
As he comes to the realization of what really happened earlier this night, a shadowy figure appears, riding on a horse. It is none other than Nightmare, and he tells Strange that this night he will die! The two battle back and forth, with neither relenting to the other. In the end, Strange defeats him, but then finds out that he serves another, and all of this was this mysterious benefactor’s plan. Nightmare will not give up his name, though, and Strange is left to ponder who or what he will face in his next battle!
Well, that’s it for now! This is one of my favorite stories because of the secrecy of the villain until the very end of the story. Also because of the creative team, the villain, and because it sort of humanized Dr. Strange with the truck accident. It gave Nightmare a way into his mind without him knowing it initially, and that was a great way to have an old enemy feel fresh again! Kudos to Stan Lee and Barry Windsor-Smith!