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:) Awesome. You know, you should really write “Doctor Strange”.

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malakim2099 said on April 2nd, 2009 at 9:54 am

Doctor Strange is definitely in need of development. He always was one of my favorite comic characters.

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karellan said on April 2nd, 2009 at 10:13 am

This is more of a new character origin story than a Dr. Strange story idea, but it IS a pretty cool character idea, so I guess we can let it slide.

To make this a Dr. Strange story idea, you should tell at least the start of a story using Strange and this new character, rather than just say, “Here’s a new character. Add Dr. Strange and it’s INSTANT GOLD.”

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That it’s not a joke makes me happy.

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Screaming Yellow Zonker Harris said on April 2nd, 2009 at 10:20 am

“BSD said on April 2nd, 2009 at 10:15 am

That it’s not a joke makes me happy.”

This.

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NCallahan said on April 2nd, 2009 at 11:22 am

Eh. Too involved for an “intern” character. He’s practically a superhero and fellow adventurer in his own right. Not somebody Strange could really treat as a student.

Personally, I’d go with quicker, dirtier descriptions — enchanter confidence man, taoist crypto-anarchist, gentlemen hermetic, displaced shaman-in-training — a bunch of small-time, on-the-verge geniuses who Strange gathers together and molds into big time players. Backstory is good, but the emphasis should be more on what they’re going to learn, as opposed to what we can learn about them. Varied enough that they can bring different solutions and approaches to the table and it’s fun to watch them brainstorm (personality conflicts et al), but not without room to grow by experience.

….see, Strange should be Dr. Cox and Doom should be Dr. Kelso…

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@karellan It seems to me that the point is Dr. Strange needs a world and a supporting cast.

I’m very much looking forward to a month of this. Day 1 had me interested, and the line “House but with Wizards” had me completely sold. Bravo.

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What did you think of Neil Gaiman’s Dr. Strange in 1602? That quickly became my #1 version of Dr. Strange. One so obsessed with his job that he gets his own head cut off to get the job done. Dedication.

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Lister Sage said on April 2nd, 2009 at 11:51 am

I want to know two things: 1) Is Strange going to get a stage magician as a cohort? and 2) Who would be your ideal pick to pencil this book?

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I’m still trying to figure out the appeal of Doctor Strange. He’s more of a best supporting actor than a main character.

Strange was a good character back in the Midnight Sons days. Doctor Strange, not so much. When Strange wanted to distract a group of 4 magical supervillains, he resurrected a legion of dead warriors and after they were done, he left them there, scared and confused, to wonder what had happened to them.

The main problem with magical characters is that there really is no way to define what magic’s physical limitations are and as such, its difficult to say what is and what isn’t believable for the character and any conflict he’s placed in. Granted, there is a suspension of disbelief for any fantasy character (The Hulk, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four), but when everything a character does to defeat the antagonist suspends disbelief it only creates an inherent disconnect with the reader.

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Cookie McCool said on April 2nd, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Nothing is Britisher than a double-barrelled surname incorporating a beast-man of living lightning. Talk about a stiff upper lip!

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Patrick C. said on April 2nd, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I do think you overlooked one (totally awesome) choice for a Dr. Strange intern: Nico Minoru, from Runaways. Sure, Runaways as a book desperately needs her, but we all know that series isn’t long for this world, so she should be available soon enough.

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HitTheTargets said on April 2nd, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Ah, of the Wattlesbury Clarksons! How do you do?

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VersasoVantare said on April 2nd, 2009 at 1:19 pm

I sometimes wonder if there aren’t other sorcerers throughout the world with power comparable to that of Strange. I can understand that he’s the Sorcerer Supreme, but magic is, as far as I know, a sort of natural resource in the world, not limited to any particular region. Throughout human history, wouldn’t various peoples discover it independantly one of one another, and cultivate and study it’s uses, totally separate from one another?

I guess it’s similar to something I always think about with various stories and videogames about saving the world. While you see heroes you know of save the planet, or large chunks of it, could there be other people in other parts of the world saving the world too? I know Marvel and DC have had international superheroes for ages, but they always sort of came off as few and far between. I wonder if there’s been occasions in these fictional settings where the world’s come within a hair’s breadth of destruction, and been saved, completely unbeknownst to us, because of the actions of people in areas of the world that we rarely see covered?

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Constantinople said on April 2nd, 2009 at 1:35 pm

As a British Citizen, I am BEYOND RAGE that there isn’t really a Wattlesbury-on-Parbeck. You got my hopes up, and then dashed them to the ground, MGK.

Also, you mentioned possible new characters in your ISW The Legion of Superheroes, so I can’t see a problem in you creating a suitable supporting character for a Strange book.

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Lister Sage said on April 2nd, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Zenrage: The problem with magical characters is shitty writers taking the “It’s magic. We don’t have to explain it.” approach. If a writer were to explicitly state what the restrictions of magic are, at least for mortal magic users, then you have a base to start your story on. The best example of this I’ve heard is from Disney’s Aladdin. Once the Genie has explain to Aladdin that he can grant wishes he then goes into the three things he can’t do (though his explanation for bringing back the dead seemed more like a warning then that he can’t really do it). I believe Brian K Vaughn outlined some of the restrictions of magic in his Doctor Strange: The Oath comic he wrote, which if you haven’t read it seek it out. As much as MGK’s take sounds fun, I’d pay $6 an issue to see Vaughn write a Dr. Strange ongoing.

VersasoVantare: Great Lakes Avengers: Misassembled is the story for you. Maelstrom, backed up by Batroc’s Brigade, creates a machine to destroy the Universe and the only people there to stop him are the much maligned (in the Marvel U) GLA. And even when they save the day no one takes notice. I think one of the biggest mistakes Marvel has made recently is not using their Marvel Comics Presents and Tales to Astonish comics is not making it a series for stand alone story of Marvel’s C and D string heroes. Instead they’re trying for a Manga style, four stories we tell you in pieces each month approach, which doesn’t work for me. The Assistant Editor’s comic which came out yesterday is much more in the style I’m looking for. Plus, Mini Marvels!

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I’ll ditto karellan: That’s a fine character. Now tell us a story.

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Will you be bringing back Strange’s last apprentice? I liked that big horse looking dude. I should hit wiki and find out what the hell Marvel did to him…

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Arrrrgh, will you just write a comic already? I don’t care if it’s not a big publisher or anything…get some foo’ to draw it and get busy!

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Lister: If you explain magic, then its no longer magic, its The Force or a zombie virus. Granted, better writers can establish boundaries for where Magic can and can not be applied, but Magic by itself is inherently Deus Ex Machina.

And its not like character boundaries aren’t ever pushed in comic books.

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Lister Sage said on April 2nd, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Zenrage: I don’t believe that at all. When I think magic I think energy. What the energy is composed of, where that energy comes from, what that energy does, doesn’t matter or is a mystery, in part or in whole, even to the people who use it. Just because you know what’s in a hot dog doesn’t stop it from being a hot dog (even if you wouldn’t want to eat one afterward).

And if a character’s boundaries change then there has be a reason for it and any consequences for them going to their limit to or over the limit need to be addressed. That’s the problem with “Don’t need to explain it.” Dr. Strange might be able to punch out God, but what will that do to him and to the rest of the Universe? A good writer deals with those issues, a bad one just goes “And now he’s rendered unconscious by bank robbers.”

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Nightcrawler for Sorcerer Supreme! I wrote a whole entry about it over at the Weekly Crisis.

http://www.weeklycrisis.com/2009/03/who-should-next-sorcerer-supreme-be.html

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No, explaining what is in a hot dog doesn’t keep it from being a hot dog. It does, however, keep it from being a magic hot dog.

Take Ghost Rider’s joints for example. The Ghost Rider has no sinews or muscles to explain why his joints move or stay together. They just do, by magic. Its Deus Ex Machina, but not so much so that it lays outside that which can be suspended with disbelief when you accept that a flaming skeleton can run around beating on demons.

About the only thing a person can do with strictly magic characters, beyond the interpersonal drama between them and supporting characters, is gradually increase the shock value of what they are capable of doing with Magic beyond that which they are already capable of doing. Then its only a matter of time before the boundaries are pushed beyond that which people will accept.

You canna break the laws of physics, Captain! Of course you can.. with MAGIC!

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I’m with Lister Sage on this. You don’t have to go much farther than your run-of-the-mill D&D games to see basic limits on magical power. A neophyte wizard can pop off a couple of magic missiles and he’s done. A veteran spell caster can turn himself into a bear or shoot bolts of lightning or fly. A grand master can summon an entire Mansion from nothing, teleport to the other side of the world in an instant, and commune with Angels, Devils, and Gods.

There is a very clear line between what a wizard can and cannot do and a clear distinction of when he can do it.

So long as Doctor Strange has a traditional bevy of spells to pull from, or so long as all his spells follow some inherent restraints people accept that these are things Dr. Strange can just do, in the same way that they accept Spiderman can cling to walls and Hulk can leap a hundred miles. The moment Strange just starts pulling solutions out his ass – “Oh no, a nether demon is attacking South Dakota. I cast ‘kill nether demon’ and win. Oh no, gremlins are stealing all the world’s cotton candy. I cast the ‘recovery cotton candy’ spell and go back to my lab – he becomes boring and trite.

You have to know where Strange’s limits are or you never worry he won’t succeed. So you have to sit down and spell out – at some point – what Strange can and cannot do. And, since Strange does magic – and he does it so well that he’s gained the title “Sorcerer Supreme” – you eventually have to sit down and spell out roughly what magic can and can’t do.

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Huzzah! When you stopped doing “I should write the Legion” I was pretty sad about it. Now this comes along, and I’m glad.

Were you to actually write Dr. Strange, I would read it.

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Can’t think of anything more boring than sitting down and spelling out what Strange can and can’t do. How ’bout just not writing stories that include “recovery cotton candy” spells? This character’s almost fifty years old. He’s never needed these kinds of explicit restrictions before.

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He’s almost fifty years old and yet hardly anyone has heard of him. I’ve seen the idea before, the one about how Dr. Strange is a flawed character who is essentially a Deus Ex Machina for everyone other comic. One of the most memorable instances was in Astonishing X-Men, where they had to actually come up with an explanation for why Dr. Strange COULDN’T be a Deus Ex Machina, so the X-Men could actually save the world themselves.

Also, yeah, if Runaways ends, Nico is an awesome character to add to Dr. Strange’s group of interns.

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Yes, you SHOULD write Dr. Strange.

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What d’you mean, hardly anyone has heard of him?

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Generic Lad said on April 2nd, 2009 at 6:10 pm

And of course Sir Humphrey’s great-grandson, Jeremy, while having no electrical abilities, still runs around screaming, “More Power!!!”

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NCallahan said on April 2nd, 2009 at 6:19 pm

plok:

While I agree that, giving his age, Dr. Strange probably doesn’t need to be rebuilt from the ground up, there’s still a lot that can be done with a “defining magic” story. Hellblazer does it all the time, and Books of Magic (both the mini and the monthly) was about it. What it comes down to is, a good magician story is about a scientific adventurer — magic is what you get when you take a philosophical system and follow the logic as if it was objective fact. Which is, to say, good magic stories are about alternative science. So “learning about magic” is equivalent to exploring philosophy, only as it unfolds in front of you, like a scientist trying to restart the Earth’s core or isolate a deadly zombie virus.

That said, even if you don’t have an issue devoted to laying the law down word for word, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t aid the story if the writer has his own notes to follow. If you read ‘The Light Ages’ or ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell’, there’s a definite logic that the supernatural events follow, but the protagonists and the readers have to learn them as they go. Even if Dr. Strange does have well-defined powers (better defined than I think Bendis gives him credit for), this is the essential element that sets his stories apart from Spider-Man or Captain America.

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Zifnab: Comic books aren’t governed by a set of rules that can be checked and even in D&D the DM can always drop a dragon corpse on top of characters for whatever reason they like.

Magic, by itself, is rarely containable in comic books. Considering how many reality altering changes that have recently occurred via magic, this should be painfully obvious. A character that has specific abilities powered by magic, like The Juggernaut, can be managed. But a character who simply “wields magic” by itself, like Doctor Strange, is doomed to inevitable cases of Deus Ex Machina.

Dekar: People have heard of him. He’s just not quite as popular as some of the more mainstream characters. There was a movie made of him back in the 70’s (I think). It reeked of bad television pilot, but it still exists.

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Craig Oxbrow said on April 2nd, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Well, darn.

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Zenrage: I don’t agree with you assertion that Strange HAS to be a Deus Ex Machina. Granted, I’m not all that familliar with the character, but I liked what Vaughn did with him in the Oath and what Waid did with him in his FF run (I know Waid has his detractors, but so what). Dr. Stephen Strange has a really great orgin story (egomanicial doctor with a god-complex humbled! Learns magic!) that’s relatable. That’s just not true of Ghost Rider.

Besides, he isn’t Ghost Rider or Juggernanut and that’s what makes him cool. He’s not a magical being, he’s a really smart guy who learned how to do this. Ghost Rider might be the bitchinest Gibson Guitar with a custom neck and airbrushed flames on the front, but Dr. Strange is Eric Clapton.

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Cookie McCool said on April 2nd, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Or you could just write The Adventures of Dr. Strange as a Bear. Imagine the hijinks he would get into trying to get his head out of the hunny jar! Excellent idea, Zifnab, I would hella subscribe to that one.

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Sofa King said on April 2nd, 2009 at 7:26 pm

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LurkerWithout said on April 2nd, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Will you be bringing back Strange’s last apprentice? I liked that big horse looking dude. I should hit wiki and find out what the hell Marvel did to him…”

Rintrah. Hell yeah. I miss him, he was pretty awesome. There’s no reason the Sorcerer Supreme must be human, after all.

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NCallahan:

While I’d definitely quibble with the “alternative science” definition, I totally agree about the learning-as-we-go thing, and the writer having his own notes — man, it’d be mean of me to say the writer can’t have his own notes, wouldn’t it? — and of course it is all about storytelling logic.

Which I think is almost as much as to say it’s about what the writer thinks magic ought to be…past writers of Dr. Strange have seldom treated magic as just another set of superpowers (heck, even Bendis doesn’t do this!), but have often brought their own interest in esoterica along with them to the story. Not that this is a requirement! But I imagine it helps more with writer’s notes than a list of Dos and Don’ts would. Anyway I don’t want to read the list of Dos and Don’ts!

And, thanks for reminding me I need to read “Jonathan Strange…” again! Off to the library I go.

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solid snake said on April 2nd, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Would Stephen possibly try to recreate the accident that cuased it to happen so that he could hold such power? And what if he became obsessed with doing so at any cost?

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MGK:

If you are looking for obscure Marvel magician characters, there is always Dakor the Magician (http://www.geocities.com/jjnevins/dakor.html) and Magar the Mystic (http://www.geocities.com/jjnevins/magar.html).

Isn’t Golden Age fun?

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Christian said on April 2nd, 2009 at 10:26 pm

I’d steal ideas from the old Mage: The Ascension game…

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malakim2099 said on April 3rd, 2009 at 1:08 am

Sadly, they won’t give us a good Dr. Strange comic, and instead feed us tripe like this instead.

Blah.

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This is interesting–it reminds me of 60s Lee/Ditko Doctor Strange, back when he would frequently meet with other heroic magic-users who were nowhere near on his power level, but who were useful as a sort of “early warning network”. If it was a minor matter, they’d handle it on their own, but if it was a big deal, they knew when they were out of their league and went to the Doc.

They helped him when Doctor Strange was on the run from a Dormammu-backed Baron Mordo, IIRC, in one of the all-time classic Strange arcs.

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John: You seem to be on some bizarre tangent about the person behind the tool having anything to do with the Deus Ex Machina of the tool itself.

Doctor Strange is the Iron Man of the Mystical realm. Without his “armor”, Doctor Strange is just a guy, who as you say, who knows how to use the craft. Just like Tony Stark is, without his armor. But the difference is, Tony Stark’s armor is a construction of science, engineering and technology and as such holds inherent limitations. Doctor Strange’s magical abilities do not.

Doctor Strange’s abilities are purely Deus Ex Machina and no different than the joints of Ghost Rider or the energy blasts of Spawn or the fiery breath of the Demon. The significant difference is, and the point I’ve been making over and over again, is that while an individual weapon that is powered by magic has limits (an amulet of fire would rarely emit a freezing blast), wielding magic, by its own vague definition, has no limits.

Having a character wield magic would be like saying Tony Stark wields Science and then allowing this vague definition of Science to include all branches of Science including the superscientific abilities of Galactus, Thanos and so on.

The Deus Ex Machina involved has less to do with how the character interacts with people (and thus relating to its audience) than it does with the limitations of the tools at its disposal.

Magic has no limitations and as such, Deus Ex Machina is only an inevitability. Sure you can remove the magic from Doctor Strange and eliminate the certainty of DEM, but then you’d have all the excitement of Tony Stark without the Iron Man armor or Batman without his belt, car or gadgets or fighting abilities.

Or to use your musical reference, John, Doctor Strange without his magic would be Eric Clapton reading his lyrics in a straight monotone voice. Sure the audience could still relate to it, but its not very entertaining and barely worht the price of admission, now is it?

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Zen, I think we’re going to have agree to disagree here. I’ve read enough of your posts to know that you’re almost always opinionated and entertaining, but almost never convinced of an argument you don’t agree with. And, hey, that’s not an insult, that the internet.

But, honestly, you’re arguing semantics. Do you really think that in the Marvel Universe “science” has any less a vague definition or any more limitations than “magic?” Because I don’t think I’ve seen a law of physics that Tony Stark or Hank Pym haven’t happily violated. The mere existence of the term “super science” in the 616 suggests otherwise.

And while we’re on the subject of semantics, I know part of my reaction to your argument is that “deus ex machina” is a loaded term. Yes, it’s a legitimate dramatic term, and it might even sort of fit for some Dr. Strange stories, but in the modern conception it means “lazy writing,” and it seems like you’re trying to frame the argument such that any comic book about a magic user is going to be bad BECAUSE of the use of magic. That may not be what you’re saying, but that’s what I’m hearing.

I’ve read stories where Strange has limitations, either through his access to magic, or because the consequences of using some types of magics are too great to reasonably contemplate. Isn’t that where the drama lies? And you’re cheating a bit there with “Iron Man without his armor” or “Batman without his fighting ability” (or Punisher without his guns, or Superman without his powers, or whatever). Cause I’ve read stories like that, just like I’ve read stories where Strange has lost his powers, and they still find a way to win, because they’re heroes.

Finally, let me explain my Eric Clapton, because I got so wrapped up in the punchline I don’t think I explained it well. Eric Clapton can do anything with a guitar. With a few esoteric motions of his fingers (see what I did there?) he can make you dance or yell, he can make your blood pump or your tears flow. He can do all sorts of things with different tunings, or foot pedals or whammy bars, but no matter how awesome he is (and he’s pretty awesome) he’s still limited by the tools and abilities he has access to. He might be able to make his guitar sound like vaguely like a human voice but he can’t make his guitar recite a Shakespearean sonnet. However, he’s so talented and creative he can make you feel the same way and get the same idea of that sonnet across through his music. And he can do so many things that you don’t expect you might think his abilities are without limit.

And Strange without his magic is EC without a guitar. He can still write music, or sing or tell stories of hanging out with the Beatles, just like Strange knows kung-fu, and is a brain surgeon, and has a life time of experience working with supervillians. And, yep, I’m pretty sure that’s entertaining and I’d be willing to pay for that.

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In addition to what John said, I’ll just say: What holds the bones of Ghost Rider’s form together, despite the lack of sinew or muscle as humans understand them? Zarathos. The guy’s bonded to a demon, and his Ghost Rider form channels the energies which Zarathos would otherwise use to manifest a physical appearance in the mortal world. See? Magical, but explainable.

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“Magic, by itself, is rarely containable in comic books. Considering how many reality altering changes that have recently occurred via magic, this should be painfully obvious. A character that has specific abilities powered by magic, like The Juggernaut, can be managed. But a character who simply “wields magic” by itself, like Doctor Strange, is doomed to inevitable cases of Deus Ex Machina. ”

Unlike every single other thing in comics?

Can’t the Hulk stop time, by like, punching it really hard?

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Dan: You’re thinking of Supermanboy-Prime.

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Jon Quixote said on April 3rd, 2009 at 6:56 pm

One of the “interns” should totally be an apparition confined to the stairwell of the Sanctum Sanctorum, L’esprit D’escalier. He/she/it would solve any mystery, provided it happened three or four issues ago.

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John: I’m saying any character that wields a vague definition of magic is doomed to inevitable cases of DEM because of that vague definition of magic.

But I’m also saying that when Magic is explained or limited, then it ultimately loses part of its Magic, or at the very least, its mystique.

Dan: By the pure fantastic nature of comics, Aunt May could stop time by punching it hard enough (According to the Marvel RPG, she could kill Galactus with a butter knife). But magic lends itself to lazy writing more so than any other comic book ability because of its undefinable nature.

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No, the undefinable nature of magic exposes lazy writing. And lazy writing is never an inevitability, it’s always someone’s fault.

Zenrage, do you not know that there were several decades worth of perfectly good Dr. Strange stories already in the can, before anybody started talking about this big deus ex machina problem?

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invisiblemoose said on April 4th, 2009 at 12:13 am

A little late, and it took me all of two minutes to make, but whatever. I still think this would rock.

http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb10/invisiblemoosenz/okaysothiswouldjustrock.jpg

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HA!

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I love everything but two things:

1) “Dr Strange is House with wizards”. This is cool, except House is rubbish. I loved the show but after a dozen episodes, whenever House said, “Egad! I’ve solved it!” (in my head he says “Egad”) I’d look at the clock. If there was more than ten minutes left, I’d shake my head and say, “No, old bean. You haven’t.” (for some reason, I’m terrifically British in my memory.) But I get the principle. The principle of “Strange as House” is really good. I’m just being nitpicky.

2) To continue the nitpicking – I don’t like the name Zzzax. It’s like those alien names with seventeen apostrophes, “ZOMG! It’s the Yul’g’f’n’a’r”’r!” I think you can do better.

But other than that… you sir, would have my $2.99 (or whatever comics cost these days).

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Lister Sage said on April 4th, 2009 at 4:14 am

Bass: Zzzax is a pre-existing Marvel character.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zzzax
So unless MGK wanted to change his name there’s nothing else he can do.

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Dan Brown said on April 6th, 2009 at 10:47 am

“But I’m also saying that when Magic is explained or limited, then it ultimately loses part of its Magic, or at the very least, its mystique.”

This certainly didn’t seem like the case with BKV’s The Oath, but it’s a POV thing.

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