What I Remember:
This is an early Marvel Trade Paperback from the late 1980s and contains three stories, two by Dennis O’Neil and Frank Miller. The first story reprints The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15, features Spider-Man teaming with the Punisher to take on Doctor Octopus. The second story reprints The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #14 where Spider-Man teams with Dr. Strange to take on Dr. Doom. The third is a short story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby called “Spider-Man Tackles the Human Torch!.” For the sake of keeping this entry concise we’re going to focus on the second story, since it features the hottest super-hero of the moment,(until the next Marvel film) Dr. Strange!
I liked the stories in this book as a kid, especially the Dr. Strange story because it featured Spider-Man against a foe he didn’t normally face, Dr. Doom who is normally way out of his league and I got to see a hero, Dr. Strange, who hasn’t had many solo appearances in my lifetime.
Sensational Spider-Man Trade Paperback: Chapter 2 “The Book of the Vishanti”
Co-Creators: Dennis O’Neil & Frank Miller
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Ben Sean
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Al Milgrom
Editor-In-Chief: Jim Shooter
Publisher: Marvel Comics
1988 (For the Trade)
Cover Price: $5.95
Re-Collection Price: Beaten Up Original
Dilby, servant of Dr. Doom is finishing up work on a project that combines both science and magic, The Bend Sinister. As Doom checks in on Dilby, he informs him that his reward for his work on the project will be to be the test subject and sends Dilby to the dimension of Dormammu!
Dormammu quickly captures Dilby and we learn he's in cahoots with Dr. Doom.
He interrupts Doom (while he is watching newsreels of Hitler) and informs him that he’s given Dilby special powers and he’s already begun conjuring up creatures.
We cut to Greenwich Village and the Sanctum Sanctorum of Dr. Stephen Strange who’s just received a large crate. As his valet Wong opens it, they’re attacked by the robot! The robot is of mystical origin and gets the better of the Sorcerer Supreme and he leaves his body to find help only to find the Sanctum besieged by demons. As they drag him down, Strange gets desperate for help and send out a Psychic flare out to anyone that may be able to help.
The flare pings all over the island of Manhattan and finally settles the Empire State University Campus and Peter Parker, who’s working the lab.
He sees the message and has to improvise a way to get out of the lab without being noticed and has a minor accident.
Peter uses the fire alarm as a chance to disappear but runs right into Deb Whitman, whom he as a date with later in the night. Peter’s forced to cancel in true Parker fashion, with no explanation.
As Spider-Man arrives in the Village he’s chased by two stone gargoyles come to life. He quickly webs one and slingshots it into the other destroying them both. He’s then met by a concerned bystander:
He’s then attacked by even more creatures. Once he shakes them loose, he’s finally able to enter the Sanctum.
The place is wrecked and he runs into a fallen Wong, who tells he received a message from the doctor, the letters C-B-G-B.
The only thing that Spider-Man can think of is the famous rock club and home of punk rock, CBGB’s. He changes clothes and begins investigating.
Meanwhile, Dilby is holding Dr. Strange nearby and plans to use him as a human sacrifice for the Bend Sinister.
Inside CB’s, Peter runs into Deb Whitman, whom he blew off earlier that night and she’s rightfully pissed off at him. She storms off, Peter chases after her hoping to smooth things over but they crash into Dilby.
They dust him off and go on their way to the coffee shop, as Peter offers to buy her dinner, the band playing at CBGB’s goes marching by, singing about the Bend Sinister by with a large group following them. Peter follows them, which is what we assume is the last straw with Deb.
Spider-Man follows the group as it marches through the Arch at Washington Square Park, and eventually uptown to Times Square. Finally the group reaches their destination, the Latverian Embassy, where Dilby has Dr. Strange tied to a giant gem, using him to conjure the Bend Sinister.
Dilby reveals that he has plans to double cross Doom and Dormammu.
Dilby sics the robot on Spidey and they battle, finally Peter manages to use his webbing to direct them right into the gem, destroying it.
Strange now free, begins conjuring a spell to render Dilby powerless but Dilby is grabbed by a hand and dragged into another dimension.
Spider-Manis met by Dr. Strange, but when Spidey asks what the hell just happened, Strange simply says it’s not for humanity to know.
Doom receives a package from Dormammu and it’s Dilby.
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Absolutely, I loved this story. O’Neil and Miller crafted my favorite type of Spidey story, where he’s in above his head and out of his element. Nothing goes right for Peter. He loses the girl twice, probably failed the lab he was in, beats up a bunch of gargoyles and for his trouble gets yelled at by an old lady, and shut out by Dr. Strange. It’s classic Parker-luck. The situation is life and death and yet there’s still humor with both Spidey and Dilby, something that I think is missing from today’s comics.
I liked how Spider-Man had to fight Dr. Strange’s battle for him. He’s just a kid from Queens trying to work his way through school and he has to use his wits to save the Sorcerer Supreme from inter-dimensional demons and thwarting Dr. Doom and the Dread Dormammu. He never gives up, he just keeps trying.
I also really liked this story because I’m familiar with many of the places in the book. I went to and currently work at NYU so I’m very familiar with the Greenwich Village area and I am always attracted to stories that are set in New York but I can pinpoint exactly where they are.
It’s my favorite part of many Marvel books, especially Spider-Man. It made me feel like the story was set in a very real place and something you also don’t really get in today’s Marvel’s books, probably because the creative teams no longer have to be based in New York to work.
The book also highlights Marvel's advantage over DC in that it was timely for the the time. In 1980, when this book was originally published, CBGBs was the hotbed of punk rock at the time. Marvel's always had writers that were able to weave modern trends into their books, which makes the Marvel Universe feel realer than DC's.
Frank Miller’s non-Daredevil Marvel work is very underrated. He like Spider-Man is not in his element off the gritty streets of Hell’s Kitchen or Gotham, and off in other dimensions and Latveria.