Of all the early Silver Age Marvel characters, Doctor Strange might be the one that succeeded despite Marvel’s expectations. Stan Lee told fanzine publisher Jerry Bails in 1963, “The first story is nothing great, but perhaps we can make something of him– ’twas Steve’s idea and I figured we’d give it a chance, although again, we had to rush the first one too much.” While I’d disagree that his debut in Strange Tales #110 was “nothing great”, part of what Lee might be referring to here is the fact that Doctor Strange’s debut appearance does not also contain his origin — something that undoubtedly makes for a stronger debut under most circumstances. Marvel even skipped including the character in two issues of Strange Tales before getting to the origin. But from that brief beginning in Strange Tales #110, the character finally got a fleshed-out backstory and origin in Strange Tales #115. A key that has risen in importance just as the character itself has become central to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s a Strange Tales #115 (Marvel, 1963) CGC FN/VF 7.0 Off-white to white pages and a Strange Tales #115 (Marvel, 1963) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages up for auction at the 2021 November 28-29 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122148 at Heritage Auctions.
Although Doctor Strange’s origin has been tweaked substantially over the years, the broad strokes as detailed in Strange Tales #115 have stood the test of time. A gifted surgeon whose ego is the equal of his skills, Stephen Strange’s career is brought to an abrupt end by a car accident that damages his hands. After hitting rock bottom in life, Strange ends up traveling to the sanctuary of the Ancient One, where he ultimately finds a different sort of redemption than he had bargained for. An origin story that’s perhaps all the more powerful because it was not also the character’s introduction, there’s a Strange Tales #115 (Marvel, 1963) CGC FN/VF 7.0 Off-white to white pages and a Strange Tales #115 (Marvel, 1963) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages up for auction at the 2021 November 28-29 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122148 at Heritage Auctions.
Strange Tales #115 (Marvel, 1963) CGC FN/VF 7.0 Off-white to white pages. Origin of Doctor Strange. Human Torch vs. Sandman (his second appearance). Early Spider-Man crossover. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko cover. Ditko art. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $282; VF 8.0 value = $761. CGC census 11/21: 70 in 7.0, 229 higher.