Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Golden Age Throwbacks: Doc Strange

Let's continue our roll call of Nedor superheroes from the Golden Age of Comic Books who are now in the public domain with the next member of the Golden Age Throwbacks: Doc Strange. In many ways, Doc Strange is similar to the other heroes we have examined so far (i.e. his powers, beautiful girlfriend and male teenage sidekick) but with two notable differences. First off, unlike most superheroes of the time and even many today, Dr. Hugo Strange does not have a secret identity and goes by his real name (although he prefers to be called by the nickname 'Doc'). In addition, the Doc Strange stories feature less of the "one-off" stereotyped (and expendable) Axis Powers villains we have previously seen but instead present themed, sometimes reoccurring nemeses with more fully developed personalities and motivations such as Electru, the Faceless Phantom and the Emperor.

Origin: None
Real Name: Dr. Hugo Strange
First Appearance: Thrilling Comics #1 [Nedor Comics February 1940]

Prowess  4
Coordination  3
Strength  4
Intellect  5
Awareness  3
Willpower  4

Stamina  8
Determination  3

  • Aerial Combat Expert
  • Criminology
  • Martial Arts Expert
  • Science Master (Chemistry)
  • Ability Boost Device 8 (Strength) - Alosun Distillate
  • Flight Device 7  - Alosun Distillate 
  • Invulnerability Device 4 - Alosun Distillate
Virginia Thompson
  • Connections: Virginia Thompson (Fiancée)
  • Sidekick: Mike Ellis
  • Epithet: America's Champion
  • Motivation: Dedicated to crushing and defeating crime
  • Identity: Brilliant Scientist
  • Enemy: Axis Powers
  • Enemy: The Faceless Phantom
  • Enemy: The Emperor
  • Enemy: Electru
  • Weakness: Needs to regularly drink Alosun distillate for powers to work
Point Total: 50

Mike Ellis
Real Name: Mike Ellis
Notable Stats:
Ability Boost Device 7 (Strength) - Alosun Distillate;
Flight Device 7  - Alosun Distillate
Notable Aspects: Connections: Doc Strange

Crime's Mightiest Menace!
Dr. Hugo 'Doc' Strange was a brilliant American scientist committed to finding a way to defeat crime, so he developed a powerful serum called Alosun by distilling atoms from the sun. By ingesting this Alosun distillate, Doc Strange was given the the powers of super strength, invulnerability and the ability to leap great distances. After years of developing the Alosun distillate, he was finally able to field test his discovery when he crossed paths with the Faceless Phantom who was attempting to steal a powerful Delta Ray Gun capable of stopping battleships. Doc Strange was engaged to Virginia Thompson, the daughter of the Delta Ray Gun's inventor Professor Thompson, and became involved when her father was kidnapped by the Faceless Phantom. Behind the skull mask, the Faceless Phantom was the secret identity of Commissioner Baxter who had developed his own secret super strength formula, but it was not as powerful as Doc's Alosun distillate so Doc was able to defeat him and rescue Virginia's father. Afterwards, Virginia often accompanied Doc Strange on his adventures.

The Faceless Phantom later returned with an improved super strength formula to rival the Alosun serum that had previously defeated him, but Doc had also been busy improving his own distillate and now had improved super strength and the ability to fly! The Faceless Phantom did return with one new power however - the ability to disappear in a cloud of purple mist. Doc Strange was able to use his expertise in chemistry to determine that the Faceless Phantom was using an ancient Egyptian chemical called 'Kalodin' to cause him to vanish and developed a reagent to counter its effects from an ancient manuscript. Doc Strange was finally able to defeat his enemy in battle once and for all when the Faceless Phantom, unable to fly like his rival, fell from an airplane.

Later on in his adventuring career, Doc Strange met a young orphan named Mike Ellis who idolized him. Wanting to be just like his hero, Mike dressed exactly like Doc (although he added a green cape - his own heroic touch) and persistently followed him around. Doc Strange was reluctant to allow Mike to join him as his sidekick as he didn't have any super powers, but eventually relented. At first, Doc wouldn't allow Mike to drink the Alosun distillate as he felt he was too young, but eventually Doc Strange came to believe his ward could handle both the responsibility and physical demands, and Mike gained super strength and the ability to fly just like his mentor. Mike Ellis along with Virginia Thompson accompanied and assisted Doc Strange on his many adventures over the years.

In addition to battling threats from the Axis Powers during World War II, Doc Strange had several arch enemies. Electru was an eight-foot-tall gang leader who could shoot electrical bolts from his fingertips. The Emperor was a mad Asian genius bent on destroying the United States and World domination.

Doc Strange vs. The Faceless Phantom
Doc Strange was originally created by writer Richard E. Hughes and artist Alexander Kostuk and first appeared in Thrilling Comics #1 (February 1940) published by Nedor (a.k.a. Standard) Comics.


  1. Jaerdaph,

    Any chance of 'fleshing out' Doc Strange nemeses, Electru, the Faceless Phantom and the Emperor?

    Great work, apropos.

  2. Hi Fabrício,
    I'm planning to do some villains as well eventually. I've been taking notes on them as well, although there isn't nearly as much background to go on beyond a few original comic appearances. In addition to Doc Strange's foes, there are some other interesting villains like The Little Führer (Hitler's diminutive "Mini Me" from American Eagle), the Gremlin (a supernatural foe of the Fighting Yank) and Blitz (a frozen ice age Nordic man uncovered and revived by the Nazis also from the Fighting Yank). These would be mostly stats with a few factoids as there isn't much to go on since most of these villains were one-shots and they usually came to their final end by the end of the issue, recurrence and coming back from the dead being a later trope in comics.

  3. So I'm looking at Doc Strange's Point Total of 57 which sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the Point Totals of the Nedor heroes I've previously statted up (Fighting Yank 48, Pyroman 45, American Eagle 48). In retrospect, I think I'd drop Leaping 7 as his improved Alosun distillate gave him the ability to fly instead of just leap in later issues, which would bring his Point Total down to 50 (and boost his starting Determination up to 3).
    Normally I don't like to limit myself too much when building NPC ICONS characters without using the random character generation with a straight jacket of 45 points (or whatever) like the point buy system in the book, but I think in this case it's a reasonable exception to make. I like to take existing characters and build something in the ICONS Character Folio from scratch based on their descriptions and actions in the actual source comics as well as my own personal interpretations and impressions of the character. 42 to 52 points seems to be a good range for Point Totals and most of the randomly generated characters I've seen fall within this spread. Sometimes "game balance" and "good story" can be opposed to one another. Sometimes, but not always.

  4. Jaerdaph,

    But Doc Strange was the most powerful (as far as I understand) of Nedor heroes. So powerful that Alan Moore based Tom Strong on him (both were present on Moore's 'Terra Obscura' set of stories).

    I love reading your blog. It's one of the very few that deals with Icons/superheroes.

  5. Thanks, Fabrício! Be sure to check out my blog roll to the right -> there's a few more blogs that sometimes feature ICONS as well that I enjoy reading (The Warlock's Homebrew, My Dice Are Older Than You) if you haven't discovered them already. Lots of past goodies in their archives too.

    Doc Strange is pretty powerful and was one of Nedor's better sellers (I think the Fighting Yank and the Black Terror were the most popular). If keeping the Leaping in addition to Flight feels right, by all means please feel free to add it back in. I did make one more change to Doc Strange - I added a new Quality, Identity: Brilliant Scientist. I played ICONS yesterday afternoon with a buddy of mine who pointed out that I tend to ignore the Identity Quality in my character builds, and since I had an "extra" slot here (for a total of five Qualities), I decided to add it in. Identity is really cool with a lot of in-game potential (Mild Mannered Reporter, Billionaire Playboy), and I can't believe I've neglected it for so long.

  6. There are so many things to take into account when translating a character into Icons' form that it's perfectly normal that you can neglect some thing or other.

    I'm going to see if I can find the blogs you mentioned. Thanks!