Let’s start off by saying that the content of this book is FIVE STARS – We’re talking Steve Ditko at the height of his creative abilities, with some of Stan Lee’s best scripting. The angst of Spider-man isn’t here (except for a tad of it in the story reprinted from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2), and instead we’ve got the most arcane and cosmic stories since the early days of Doctor Fate and Stardust the Super Wizard.
I’ve given this particular incarnation of the book – the newest printing from 2015 – three stars because of the many unforgivable and easily preventable coloring errors throughout the book. The colorist just didn’t seem to care what they hell they were doing. That’s a damn shame, given the scarcity of this book; I know if I had bought a copy of the first printing (which gray markets for $200-400) and it had the same abominable errors, I would have been incredibly annoyed.
This volume reprints all the Doctor Strange tales from Strange Tales, up until the climax of his hand-to-hand battle with the Dread Dormmammu. Doc’s origin is here, as well as the first appearances of the Ancient One and Baron Mordo, and the unnamed denizen of the Dark Dimension who would later be known as Clea. Thor also makes a cameo, and there’s Spider-Man joining the Master of the Mystic Arts for their first battle with Xandu.
If you like Ditko’s work, like cosmic stories, or simply enjoy classic Marvel Comics, this is a great way to experience all of that. Just beware that the presentation is not as nearly as pristine as it should’ve been.