Stephen Sanders seems to be promptly forgotten (as is the masked costume,
thankfully) within the stories in this volume, but is never explicitly
written out. (The cancellation of Dr. Strange's title was likely a factor.)
Was there ever an explanation what happened to this ID? Maybe Eternity can
only make temporary changes...
Yes, there was. I believe it was in the second story of 1971's "Marvel
Feature" #1, which also had the debut of the Defenders. It was only
later, in 1972's Marvel Premiere #3, that Doc would regain a solo
Some reference links:
Basically, the Ancient One reversed Eternity's doing.
> Bill Svitavsky escreveu:
>> Was there ever an explanation what happened to this ID? Maybe
>> Eternity can only make temporary changes...
> Yes, there was. I believe it was in the second story of 1971's
> "Marvel Feature" #1, which also had the debut of the Defenders. It
> was only later, in 1972's Marvel Premiere #3, that Doc would regain a
> solo feature.
> The story in Defenders #1 fills in the details.
MARVEL FEATURE #1, actually.
Read an ASTRO CITY story for FREE, at:
Ehh. Seeing as it's the first Defenders story, it's a natural slip.
> The story in [Marvel Feature]#1 fills in the details. Dr. Strange,
> having giving up his magic powers returns to his old home in Greenwich
> Village to discover that an imposter has taken his place. After he is
> defeated by the imposter, the Ancient One comes to Strange and tells
> him he must regain his life and his powers and not to run away again.
> The imposter turns out to Baron Mordo, who Strange defeats. So the
> past life or Saunders is gone. Let me know if there is anything else
> you need to know, I have all those Marvel comics from that era
The story with the battle against Mordo is in the Essential volume I've
been reading, but the story didn't seem to me to be clear about wiping
out the Sanders identity. The Ancient One restores Dr. Strange's powers,
and tells him they can "nevermore be discarded", but I don't see any
specific references to the documented identity of Sanders being erased.
The Ancient One, in fact, initially addresses Strange as "Stephen
Sanders". Strange makes a couple of comments to Mordo and Wong that could
be interpreted as a deliberate resumption of his true name - "This is no
longer a powerless Stephen Sanders whom you now face. This is Doctor
Strange..." and "I have once more picked up the mantle of Doctor Strange
and I can never again put it down" - but I see no indication of anybody
undoing Eternity's alteration.
Is it possible the Ancient One's fix is shown in the Defenders story in
that issue, which isn't included in Essential Dr. Strange v. 2? Or was it
just something that had to be inferred until the Murdoch Adams business
made it explicit?
> Is it possible the Ancient One's fix is shown in the Defenders story in
> that issue, which isn't included in Essential Dr. Strange v. 2?
Possible, I suppose, but no -- it's not there.
> Or was it just something that had to be inferred until the Murdoch
> Adams business made it explicit?
Pretty much. Dr. Strange passed into other hands than Roy's, and they
were largely uninterested in the whole Sanders thing, since it hadn't
achieved its purpose anyway (boost Doc's sales by making him more
superhero-y). No real surprise that it was picked up by Ralph Macchio
and Roger Stern, two history-minded creators.
This happened in Strange Tales with the Human Torch. In Fantastic
Four comics Johnny lived with the other three at the Baxter Building in
New York and everyone knew who they were. In Strange Tales, starting
with issue 101, he lives alone in Glendale, and Johnny Storm is his
secret identity. The opening description informs us that the community
knows that the Invisible Girl is his sister but not that he is the
Human Torch. Four friends, who we never meet, also know his identity.
This is counter to the continuity in the Fantastic Four and was a bit
confusing.The identity issue faded away by issue #113 as part of Marvel
formula #7: "If it doesn't work, just forget about it."
After reading the Dr, Strange stores, I processed them differently than
you. I just assumed that when the Ancient One restated his mission,
Dr. Sauders and that terrible costume were just gone.
> I just went threw Marvel Premiere # 3-14 (7/72-3/74) and Dr. Strange
> 1-10 and the Saunders thing is not mentioned there. It is, I believe,
> part of the Marvel formula: If it doesn't work forget about it.
> After reading the Dr, Strange stores, I processed them differently than
> you. I just assumed that when the Ancient One restated his mission,
> Dr. Sauders and that terrible costume were just gone.
Many thanks to you and Kurt for satisfying my curiosity on this. I think
we're all glad the weak attempt at making Dr. Stranger "superhero-y" was
dropped quickly - I was just wondering whether it had been clearly written
out or if it just fell into the "Let's never speak of this again" category.
The thing about the Sanders ploy that strikes me as particularly odd is
that by that point, Marvel had had plenty of successes that broke from the
traditional secret ID formula. The FF are the obvious example, but plenty
of the other classic Marvel heroes (the Hulk, X-Men, arguably even Iron
Man) didn't exactly lead the sort of double life usually associated with a
secret ID. So I'd say this approach wasn't just inappropriate to the
character, it was something of a deviation from the Marvel style. But I
suppose it makes sense in view of Roy Thomas's appreciation for Golden Age
heroes and of desperate sales circumstances where anything was probably
worth a try. (I personally would have gone with more gorillas.)
> 'Dr Strange: Gorilla Magician' might have worked, though his costume
> would've looked weird on a gorilla. Then again, DC had a 'Mod gorilla
> mobster' appear in one of their 1960s comics, and a gorilla dressed
> as a Mod is just as disturbing.
No gorillas that I know of, but in 1976 they _did_ introduce Dr.
Stranger Yet, who just happened to be a warthog.
Everything is better with gorillas.
But in listing the phases of Dr. Strange they leave out Saunders.
As you know Dr. Strange was cancelled many times. It took about 6
issues before sales figures came in at that time to see if the strip
was going well. It is probably true that sales were down and they
tried for a change. They usually don't make radical changes if the
strip is going well. So in issue 183 they tried to make him a
super-hero and it failed.
May I bring up something else? Bill wrote: (the Hulk, X-Men, arguably
Man) didn't exactly lead the sort of double life usually associated
In that era they actually did. The Hulk being the exception (In Tales
to Astonish #77, Rick Jones reveals his identity and in issue #87 the
world watches on TV as it happened)
Iron Man, that is Tony Stark, led a "Bruce Wayne" playboy life.
His dual identity created the traditional problems of him not being
around when Iron Man was. Iron Man was truly a tragic character.
As often as he was pictured powerful and victorious, he was shown
helpless needing rest and a recharge. It was quite a contrast. He could
actually not be a playboy, although that what was his image. He had to
wear his Iron Man chest armor all the time to keep alive. This would
make an intimate relation impossible and give away his secret identity.
In their first 66 issues, the X-Men had traditional secret identities
and worked to keep them. Many stories began with them trying to just
be regular folks, which of course, never happened. It was after 1976
that a great many changes happened.
Finally, the Fantastic Four were not the first to work without a secret
identity. At the beginning of his career, in 1960, Ralph Digby (In
Flash Comics) the Elongated Man did reveal himself to the public
making him the first superhero to do so, but he still pore his mask.
But Digby was always a minor character, a filler, in the DC Universe,
never appearing in his own comic so there was not much impact. I guess
it is not a stretch for both Digby and Reed Richards not to have secret
identities. Or maybe it is.
There's a letter printed in Defenders #38 asking why Doc isn't called
Sanders any more, to which the reply is:
"One of these days, the two Steves - Gerber and Englehart - are going to
have to get together with neo-editor Gerry Conway and decide just what Dr.
Strange's civilian appellation really is. As Gerber understood it, the
"Sanders" name went up in smoke with Doc's very transitory super-hero phase
a number of years back. Steve G. just kinda likes the idea that Dr.
Strange's "secret identity" is Dr. Strange."
Who says it's only nowadays that Marvel just ignore inconvenient old
> May I bring up something else? Bill wrote: (the Hulk, X-Men, arguably
> even Iron
> Man) didn't exactly lead the sort of double life usually associated
> with a
> secret ID.
> In that era they actually did.
Admittedly I have a better knowledge of DC in that era than of Marvel, but
I still have a general impression that Marvel had a tendency to play looser
with secret ID's. Granted, most of these heroes had secret identities at
the time, but my impression is that they were less inclined to lead double
lives than DC & other companies' heroes.
The X-Men's secret IDs were as students at the Xavier School for the Gifted
- the exact nature of the school was a secret, but it was public knowledge
who attended there. This isn't much different from Dr. Strange's pre-
Sanders identity; it was no secret where Dr. Stephen Strange lived, but
most people didn't know that he was a Master of the Mystic Arts.
As for Iron Man, unless I'm mixing my eras he was already spending a lot of
his time defending Stark Industries, and perhaps was known as Tony Stark's
bodyguard. While Superman hspent a lot of time defending the Daily Planet
and Green Lantern taking care of Ferris Air, these other heroes' adventures
were never as bound to self-interest as Iron Man's. IM and Tony Stark
already had the same agenda and base of operations.
I might be splitting hairs here, but it seems to me that there was already
enough of a pattern among Marvel secret identities that they could be
abandoned (as with the Hulk) without much altering the basic structure of
the stories. If Clark Kent were to be publically known as Superman, it
would fundamentally change the character and his adventures. This is
equally true of Peter Parker, but not for many Marvel heroes; Scott Summers
known to be Cyclops would stay pretty much the same.
Iron Man was always defending Stark Industries, usually from the
communests. However, his character was very much intergrated into the
script. Seator Bryd for years was going after Stark, not Iron Man and
the removal of the dual identities would have very much changed the
As the X-Men grew older, starting in issue 31 perhaps, there was a
return to their private lives and secret identities. Scott's brother
was introduced and they started telling the Orrigins which was
basically all about their secret identities.
But I think it is right to assume that the DC heroes were more
concerned about secret identities. DC often went too far with the
secret identity concept. Bruce Wayne's Bat-Hound, Ace had one. He wore
a mask, I presume, so that the other dogs would not guess his identity
and go after his family. Don't ask, don't smell.
I think Strange had multiple identities some time in the 1990s? One of
them may even have been named Sanders...
Welcome to racmu.
"... respect, all good works are not done by only good folk. For within these
Trials, we shall do what needs to be done."
--till next time, Jameson Stalanthas Yu -x- <<poetry.dolphins-cove.com>>
It's ignored, but it isn't washed away. It seems that there is nothing
precluding a Dr. Strange as Steven Saunders filing his taxes somewhere, right?
Dr Strange just doesn't open the mail addresssed to that name anymore.
Was it revealed somewhere that Steven Saunders was another person? Like how they
fudged around with Eric Masterson and who he 'really' is?