In honor of Spider-Man Fever, I have decided to revisit one of the webhead's earliest adventures with Doctor Strange in a story titled "The Wondrous World of Doctor Strange!" brought to you by the masters Stan Lee and Steve Ditko!
The story begins with Spidey lamenting about how boring his night has been...
In another part of town a man named Xandu walks in on a bar fight; two heavily muscled but unintelligent men have just finished beating on everyone else in the bar. Sensing that these two men are perfect for his scheme, Xandu hypnotizes them. Under Xandu's spell the two men feel no pain and have fists of steel.
Back at his hideout we learn that Xandu possesses one half of a powerful artifact known as the wand of watoomb. The other half of the wand is in the possession of Strange. Xandu dispatches the two men to the sanctum sanctorum to retrieve it.
The men waste no time arriving at the sanctum. Strange's spells prove useless against the two hypnotized men who knock out Strange and steal the other half of the wand. Luckily for Strange, Spider-Man spots the two thieves escaping out the skylight. Spidey does not fare much better, as the two thugs cannot feel Spider-Man's punches. They manage to beat Spidey into submission and escape but not before Spidey hits one of them with his spider-tracer.
Back at Xandu's hideout, the two men give him the other half of the wand granting him considerable power. He is about to use his power to destroy Strange (still lying unconscious back at his sanctum) when Spider-Man arrives. A brief fight ensues during which Spidey manages to web Xandu's face causing him to drop the wand. Xandu conjures up a spell that sends Spidey into another dimension. Thinking quickly, Spidey grabs the wand before he fades away. Xandu sends the two men into the other dimension to get the wand back.
Back at the sanctum, Strange finally regains consciousness. He uses his amulet to guide him to the wand.
Strange confronts Xandu at his hideout and easily defeats him. Just as Xandu is about to surrender, Spidey and the two men return to our dimension, allowing Xandu to once again take the wand.
Realizing he cannot beat Xandu alone, Strange retreats and enters his eptoplasmic spirit form. While in this form he helps Spidey defeat the two men by drawing his attention to two conveniently placed electrical wires. Spidey uses the wires to deliver a shock to the two men, snapping them out of Xandu's trance. Strange then re enters his body and with the help of Spider-Man defeats Xandu by disrupting his ability to concentrate. Strange then drains all the power from the wand and gives Xandu a morally debatable mindwipe. After thanking Spider-Man for his help, Strange departs.
Ditko's Doctor Strange was famous for the wildly imaginative worlds that the artist was able to create. While we only catch a glimpse of them in this annual, it's still pretty cool that Ditko was able to include Spider-Man into one of these far out adventures. A panel involving Spider-Man looking at a world beyond his understanding is one of my favorite pieces of Spider-Man artwork.Along with Ditko's brilliant artwork is Lee's goofy but incredibly fun dialogue. Another aspect I liked was how Spidey used his brains to escape from the other dimension. Like all the other issues of the Lee/Ditko run, fans do themselves a great disservice by not reading it.