Hello and welcome to another edition of Ye Olde School Café! In this installment I’ll be showcasing an issue of Marvel Team-Up that has not only Doctor Strange in it, but the iconic Spider-Man, as well! In Marvel Team-Up #21, you get top notch talent in writer Len Wein, pencils by Sal Buscema, and a cover by Gil Kane! “The Spider and the Sorcerer” was published in 1974, and it’s still one of my favorites!
The tale begins with Spider-Man breaking up a robbery in some alleyway. As he finishes off the crooks, the “victim” thanks him for the save, but then begins to hypnotize Spidey. This victim is none other than Xandu, the sorcerer! He hypnotizes Spidey, and orders him to steal “The Crystal of Kadavus” from the lair of Doctor Strange! He tells Spidey that Doctor Strange is his enemy, and sworn to kill him on sight. He then sends Spidey on his way, and spouts off about how he’ll soon be master of the cosmos!
Over at the Doc’s place, he’s doing his usual meditation for the evening when Spidey sneaks in. Or so he thinks. The Doc senses his presence, and goes into the other room to investigate. As he and Spidey come face to face, Spidey is still under the sway of Xandu, and sees the Doc as an enemy. The two begin to fight, and just as it looks like Spidey is going to go down, he webs a statue behind Strange, and pulls it down on his head, knocking him out. Xandu then telepathically commands Spidey to steal the Wand of Watoomb as well as the Crystal, and summons him to his lair.
He begins to weave a spell, and also recounts his earlier brawl with Strange. As he is about to kill Spidey, Doctor Strange arrives, and the fight is on! Xandu uses the Wand and Crystal to transport them to a world where his magics reign supreme, or so he thinks. Initially, he seems to be winning, but then Spidey, who now seems to have magical powers, surprises Xandu, and hits him with a blast. Then Doctor Strange, who now has web-shooters, webs up Xandu’s face. Xandu is now confused, and Spidey hits him with another blast. Xandu then drops the Wand of Watoomb, and Spidey and the Doc finish him off.
As Xandu is recovering from his beating, he begins to ramble on about his lover, Melinda, who has been in a coma since his last bout with Strange. Doctor Strange tells Xandu that he might be able to help him, and the two journey to his lair. He begins to cast a spell, but realizes that she’s not in a coma, but dead. He tells Xandu that nothing can be done for her, and Xandu goes off the deep end, and suffers a breakdown. Spidey and the Doc leave him alone in the chamber, sobbing over his realization that he is the one that killed her, albeit accidentally years earlier.
This great story is available through a couple of different means. The single issue, the Essentials, and also in Marvel Treasury Edition #6. I own all three because I’m a Doctor Strange fanatic, but one will suffice for the normal lot. See you next time!