Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Deadly Aim of--Mr. Rasputin!

Most of the time when we come across practitioners of the mystic arts in comics, they're focused on matters beyond their day-to-day lives--contacting other-dimensional beings, amassing greater power, planning world conquest--maybe all of the above. Not many of them use their knowledge in more mortal pursuits, like extortion or blackmail--which leaves the field wide open for a man like Mr. Rasputin, who's making quite a name for himself in international circles:

By accounts, the first Rasputin, while having great influence in the Russian monarchy, worked behind the scenes and didn't harbor aspirations to rule--but Mr. Rasputin clearly considers his ancestry deprived in that respect. And so, using his skills in hypnosis and mysticism, he's well on his way to becoming the perfect terrorist.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before his activities in the occult drew the attention of the Master of the Mystic Arts:

Rasputin puts up a good fight against Strange, all things considered, but it doesn't take him long to realize what he's up against. So he resorts to a weapon which it turns out Strange is ill-prepared against:

It's surprising that we don't see more Dr. Strange foes packing heat, just to be on the safe side. A gun seems to, you'll excuse the expression, work like a charm against him. In this instance, only Strange's quick thinking keeps him from being plugged by another round:

And so, laid up in a hospital bed, Strange has little recourse but to return to Rasputin in his astral form. Unfortunately, Rasputin has taken the liberty of setting up shop in Strange's Greenwich Village sanctum, thereby increasing his threat:

We shouldn't count Strange out yet, though in his current state his options are limited. But even using his cloak of levitation and his mystic eye, Strange finds that Rasputin is a formidable foe:

You have to hand it to Strange--deprived of his physical body and on his way to imprisonment in another dimension, he still is able to keep his cloak in the fight. And its relentless grip finally swings this conflict in his favor.

I don't know what jail Rasputin is currently languishing in--but, thanks to Clea, Strange's disciple for a time, his essence gets a new lease on life when she attempts a spell to give the Valkyrie a little background on the three heavyweights who founded the Defenders. But Strange discovers her efforts too late:

And so the Hulk, the Sub-Mariner, and Strange all find themselves reliving warped versions of events from their pasts. Unfortunately, like Namor and his Nazi foes, Strange finds his fellow denizen to be armed, and all too familiar:

Rasputin's aim and determination seem as deadly as ever. But help is on the way:

The three are able to make it back safely. As for Clea, it's a safe bet she was put in front of a blackboard with a piece of chalk, where she'd begin to write "I Will Not Attempt Spells On My Own Anymore EVER" 1000 times.  We can only hope she doesn't start fooling around with handguns.


Murray said...

I never chanced upon that Mr. Rasputin story. Odd that he wasn't given more air time in future stories, possibly as the mystic member of some villain team. I also missed that Starlin issue of the Defenders! Definitely an artist for whacky occult imagery!

Taken by itself, it seems a solid story. However, I suspect it is this sort of inconsistency that keeps the good Doctor from having a successful solo comic title. Strange has whipped up the Shield of Seraphim and other defenses to block, for example, the Hulk's fist. I can only reel at trying to imagine the kinetic force in that green fist. I will stand firm in that it surpasses the force of a .45 slug.

Which starts me recollecting other mundane threats to Dr. Strange. How he ranges from being able to hold his own against the top martial artists on Earth to pretty much being a fumble-footed victim to any mugger.

david_b said...

Excellent comparison.. When I got into my 'Doc Strange' kick last year, I focused solely on the Ditko stories.., I just didn't like the Brunner art all that well, perhaps too Starlin-ish and '70s lush influence..?

Don't misunderstand, I LOVE Starlin art especially on MarVell, but when compared to the early ultra-cool Strange stories, no comparison.

dbutler16 said...

I'm not familiar with Mr. Rasputin, but he seems like a formidable foe. It's strange that he wasn't given more appearances. Dr. Strange defeated by a mere pistol?! Well, give Rasputin credit for being devious, anyway.

Like Murray, I've noticed that Strange can be a master martial artist one issue (getting the better of Mantis!) and fight about as well as me in another issue, depending upon who the writer is, I suppose.

Iain said...

Reading this encounter with a pistol reminds me of the time Strange and Nighthawk went up against the Wrecking Crew twice the good Doctor was clobbered physically by members of the brutish crew you'd think after awhile he'd take some fighting lessons for when his spells fail him. ^^

Comicsfan said...

Well, Iain, the good doctor is trained in the martial arts, though as Murray and dbutler mention it's a rare day when we see his skills in the spotlight. (In fact I often think how cool it would be to see how he does in hand-to-hand combat with the Mandarin.) That said, martial arts against the Wrecking Crew would probably be about as effective as a fly swatter against the Hulk. How Strange emerged from that battle without a few broken bones remains a head-shaker.

Iain said...

Dr Strange always reminds me of these powerful mages in RPG games like Final Fantasy that stand in the back row because if they ever got whacked by a melee would fall apart. Really though Strange should be as tough as an average human being so how he isn't dead from being hit by the wrecker's steel bar is quite amazing. :)

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