Hey everybody, welcome to another week in Ye Olde School Café! In this week’s column I’m going to be presenting a story from 1992, and I know what you’re thinking about that. “Wait a minute, isn’t this column supposed to be pre-1990?” Well, yes, but I’m a rebel, and I make my own rules! Well, actually I discussed it with my editor, and she said it was OK! So I’m going to be bringing you a psychedelic story called Spider-Man/Dr. Strange: The Way to Dusty Death! This story features one of Spider-Man & Doc Strange’s most relentless enemies in Xandu! Story by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas, with art by Michael Bair!
As our story begins, Spidey is doing his usual routine of web-swinging around New York City. He is abruptly stopped in his tracks by a beautiful young woman who has thrown herself off of a bridge! Spidey swoops in to save her, but then is immediately shocked to learn that the woman is none other than Melinda Morrison, a young woman that was previously saved from the clutches of Xandu by Spidey and the Scarlet Witch! She’s frantic to get away, and Spidey soon sees why. Right behind him are a dozen horrific looking creatures that are drooling at the chance to kill the two of them! Spidey punches and kicks a few of them away, but then things start looking bleak. At that very moment, the Sorcerer Supreme arrives and steps in to lend a hand. With a simple spell, and a flick of the wrist, he dispatches the demons back to their dimension. They then head over to Doctor Strange’s place in the Village, and he tells Spidey that the culprit behind these otherworldly shenanigans is Xandu!
The two then decide to recount their first team-up against Xandu and how they defeated him. In the streets below, Rintrah is attacked by a horde of demons! They force their way into the house, and then attack Spidey and the Doc. Caught off guard, the demons create enough of a distraction that they allow Xandu to possess Spidey. Doc Strange is then left to battle the demons and Spidey. He fights them off the best he can, but it leaves enough room for Spidey/Xandu to grab Melinda and the Wand of Watoomb, and head through a portal to another dimension. Doctor Strange informs Spidey that he’ll use his astral form, and then the two of them use a spell to watch Xandu take Melinda to the dimension of death! Doc Strange also informs Spidey that if he doesn’t return to his body within twenty-four hours, he’ll dissipate and turn into nothing. As the two heroes confront Xandu, he brings more demons to do his bidding. They successfully fight them off, but then Xandu orders Melinda to jump into the portal, and she does, but Spidey follows anyway, and gets caught up in a huge maelstrom.
When Spidey arrives with Melinda at their destination, he realizes that something is wrong. He gets attacked by a demon right away, as Melinda watches in horror. Spidey then throws a few kicks and punches to get himself out of trouble. Next, he takes Melinda to the Skull Castle that’s within sight to look for answers. Spidey is then faced with his ultimate fears. Gwen Stacy and his Uncle Ben are there to greet him at the front of the castle. They basically tell him that it’s his fault that they’re dead, and he is almost overcome with feelings of guilt. Back on Earth, Doctor Strange is still fighting his way through a pack of demons on his way to Xandu (who’s still inhabiting Spidey’s body). As Spidey struggles with the deaths he’s been involved with, initially he seems to want to give in, and join them in death. Something instinctive goes off, and he denies them their request to join them in oblivion. He then distracts Xandu back in the Earth dimension, and allows Dr. Strange to use a spell on Xandu and put him down. Spidey and Dr. Strange then decide that they’ll let Melinda choose what she wants to do. Xandu tells them that she belongs in the Death Dimension with him, and he’s willing to fight for her. He makes one last attempt to attack Strange and Spidey, but they easily subdue him and he’s defeated.
In the end, it seems that Xandu really does love Melinda, but Strange won’t allow him to rule, so he places Melinda in charge of the Death Dimension, and leaves it at that. Doctor Strange then thanks Spidey, and tells him, “May the shields of Seraphim ever protect you”; to which Spidey responds, “May your cloak never get lost in the laundry.”
Well, that’s it for this week, and I hope you enjoyed that peek inside a great story from back in the day. I love when Doc Strange teams up with Spider-Man, personally. Their dynamic is perfect for a book, because of Spidey’s sense of humor, and Strange’s somewhat cold demeanor. Be back next week for more awesomeness!