Dennis O’Neil: Strange Tidings
Doctor Strange and I go way back. He was the first superhero Stan Lee asked me to write when I was a fuzzy newbie, just beginning a long stretch of years in the comic book business, working as an editorial assistant at Marvel. Maybe there’s some synchronicity here: I’d fooled around with magic as a kid and here I was writing about a magician. And more: this conjurer lived in Greenwich village, notorious hotbed of art and creativity and nonconformity, all of which were of powerful interest to me.
And now, more than 50 years later, along comes the Doctor Strange movie, and a satisfying afternoon in the multiplex it is, not least because one of my favorite actors hits all his marks. It is also, no surprise here, a box office success, the fourteenth in a row for the Mighty Marvel Movie Manufacturers.
But, for the moment, let’s not laud the Master of the Mystic Arts. Maybe later. Maybe as early as next week.
Why not now?
Do you know what day it is? Look outside: it’s a beautiful autumn Tuesday. Bright sunshine, crisp air, glorious foliage. The kind of day that gives me reason to live where I do. 140The date, when I exist, a bit earlier than when you exist, unless you’ve traveled into the past and have taken up residence in my computer, is November 8. Ring any bells? Yeah, voting day.
One of those turning points that jolts America every so often, I think, the end of the longest and nastiest political campaign in our history. Listen, I’m no flag waving naif. I know that the past was not glorious and our founding fathers were not noble. (After all, the venerated Thomas Jefferson paid contemporary journalists to write bad stuff about his rival for the presidency, John Adams.) But mostly they got the job done. After the ugly ordeal that ends today, regardless of who was pronounced the winner, it will no longer be possible to believe that politics is, in any way, about good governance. It is about money and power and ego and the squirmy satisfaction of vanquishing the enemy – that is, the guy who sits across the aisle and attends a different caucus.
Abraham Lincoln made his rivals members of his cabinet. Probably couldn’t happen today.
I don’t think that all politicians are Uncle Scrooges. I’ve had a pleasant conversation with one senator and worked on a charitable project with another and I can think of several more who seem to be genuine altruists. But because of how the system has evolved, it seems that even the best politicos spend more energy on fund raising and getting reelected than on dealing with the intricacies of an increasingly complicated civilization.
The current congress is, by virtually every standard, the worst in history.
So let’s let Doc Strange rest, wrapped in his cloak of levitation, while I go upstairs and eventually turn on the television and, I don’t know…try to decide if I’m depressed?