With just a few short words of dialogue, the duo of Dr. Stephen Strange and Spider-Man have already cemented their legacy as one of the most popular pairings in the 13-year history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“I’m Peter, by the way.”
“Oh, we’re using our made-up names. Um, I’m Spider-Man then.”
Or perhaps you were smitten by the are-we-buddies-now rapport in the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer.
“I’m sorry to bother you, sir.”
“Please. We saved half of the universe together. I think we’re beyond you calling me ‘sir.'”
“That feels weird, but I’ll allow it.”
It’s clear from the start that these two have on-screen chemistry, and that chemistry is going to be tested quickly based on the events of the latest MCU trailer. But what about the origins of Dr. Strange and Spider-Man teaming up? What comics can we point to when we want to find the origins of this unlikely relationship?
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2
If you thought you were done buying ASM Annuals after you invested in the first Sinister Six with Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, well not so fast my friend. Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2 features the first meeting between these two when they meet to hunt the villain Xandu (also a first appearance).
The two work together to retrieve the Wand of Watoomb, which is supposed to allow its wielder to create doorways to different universes and timeframes. Sound familiar?
This book from 1965 hasn’t yet seen the typical spike one might expect from such a foundational moment in comic history that is translated directly to the big screen.
The highest grade that sold this past summer was a CGC 7.0 which went for $348 at Heritage Auctions. That was only $73 more than the same copy sold in October 2020 on eBay.
Further down the scale, a CGC 4.5 sold for $150 on eBay in August. Not much higher, however, than the $130 it demanded back in April. What this tells me is this is clearly a buying opportunity.
When you have a Silver Age (1965) Spider-Man with his first appearance with a major Marvel hero, this is more than just a minor key. I can only imagine this book will gain traction over the next few months and should increase in value substantially.
Marvel Team-Up #21
Apparently, the duo couldn’t get enough of each other after fighting Xandu the first time, so they team up again nine years later to do it again in Marvel Team-Up #21. This time, Xandu is trying to steal yet another artifact from Dr. Strange (when will these villains ever learn?), and he mind-controls Spider-Man to help him do it. Eventually, saner heads prevail and the unlikely team drives Xandu out once again.
Talk about a bargain on this one! If you can locate one of the roughly 60 CGC copies of this book that exist today, you can have it for almost a song. In January 2021, a 9.4 copy of this book sold for just $125! A 9.2 sold for only $60. This surely won’t last for long. I just bought a $10 raw and Fine copy for myself on eBay, and there are another dozen copies available at various prices. If nothing else, it should be a fun read to dive back into the Dr. Strange and Xandu story again.
To some, this one-shot from Marvel counts as the true first meeting between the pair, although it was published in 1998, 33 years after Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2. This series of flashbacks which were called the Untold Tales of Spider-Man, which were published in the mid-to-late 1990s, looked back at some Peter Parker/Spider-Man stories untold in previous comics.
Essentially, this book ret-conned the duo’s first meeting where they meet earlier than 1965 to battle Baron Mordo, Dormammu, and many of the Sinister Six. Wait a minute. I’m sensing a common thread here. Wong appears in this book. So does Aunt May and MJ. Ditto for J. Jonah Jameson. We may be onto something here. We are not sure exactly what source material is used for the upcoming movie, although many have speculated the “One More Day” storyline from 2007-2008 might be close. But if there is a story arc that involves each of the characters listed above – it might just be this book.
The sales data on this book is non-existent as there are not enough CGC copies to register a census. However, a quick scan of eBay shows you can have a raw copy in excellent condition for under $10 right now. Grab one while you can.
This famous storyline from the landmark issue Amazing Spider-Man #500 has a very interesting synopsis from the Marvel wiki page:
“Lost in time, Peter is faced with a tough decision. He watches as his future self, surrounded by armed men and women telling him not to move. He also watches his younger self the day that he was transformed forever into Spider-Man, and wonders if he should help the future or the past versions of himself….the current version of Peter is confronted by Doctor Strange, who had just found Peter. Doctor Strange tells him that he must follow his voice to return to the present.”
Those who have read this issue know there is much more to it as well. Spider-Man travels through time and dimensions, battling Electro, Dr. Octopus, Lizard, Kraven, Mysterio, Sandman, Scorpion, Green Goblin, Rhino, and others before Dr. Stange helps to pull him out of it and set him on a course-corrected path to happiness.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like it could easily be a movie plot?
There are about 1,100 of these on the CGC census, with 9.8s going for roughly $125. This could be something, or it could be nothing. But it checks the boxes of Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, multiple dimensions, Sinister Six villains, and Stephen Strange serving as a mentor or guide to a better path. Just keep that stored away in your memory in case this book gains any traction.
The Pantheon of Movie Pairs
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see more of this relationship unfold on-screen in a few months. Beyond just chemistry on screen, there is so much more to the partnership of this pair that has flowed through the pages of Marvel comics over the years. So much to be explored and so much opportunity to do it with the multiverse in full effect.
What are your Spider-Man and Dr. Strange theories for the movie? What are you hoping the duo will accomplish together? Let me know in the comments!