This is the first in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of pieces examining comic book plot lines that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories specifically "overturned" (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An' Forsaked.
Today we examine the quick U-Turn Marvel took with Steve Englehart's final group of Doctor Strange stories when Englehart left the title with issue #18.
Steve Englehart and Gene Colan combined for a brilliant story in Doctor Strange #10-13 where Baron Mordo's madness leads towards the Earth being destroyed!
At the end of the issue, the Ancient One convinces Eternity to save Earth, and he agrees, with one twist...
And that's how Englehart had it - Earth was totally recreated and only Strange knows what REALLY happened.
In his last story before leaving the book (a story he never finished), Englehart (again with Colan on art) told a story of Strange and Clea traveling through time to study the occult history of America.
Well, in Englehart's last issue, Strange and Clea meet Ben Franklin and Clea and Franklin hit it off...VERY well...
Okay, so Englehart leaves with #18.
#19 sees Marv Wolfman (the book's editor) become its writer as well as editor (with Alfredo Alcala as #19's artist) and very quickly, the whole Ben Franklin/Clea deal is explained away as an illusion (as Wolfman also draws the whole Occult History tour to a close, as well)...
At the end of #19, Strange gives up the title (and extra powers) of the Sorcerer Supreme
In #20, we learn that the destruction of Earth was ALSO an illusion/trick designed by an evil cabal of magicians to make Strange feel compelled to give up the role of Sorcerer Supreme...
And there you have it - two issues to rewrite the ending of Englehart's run on Doctor Strange!
Regular blog commenter Sanctum Sanctorum Comix (who has an awesome site about Doctor Strange here) wrote about these ret-cons in the comments awhile back. I was already preparing this column at the time on this topic, so I held back his comment until now. You can read his comment here. Again, be sure to check out his Strange site here!