Focusing upon the titular character’s desperate search for his long-time friend and manservant, Wong, “State Of Misery” arguably provided its 37,686-strong audience with far more entertainment courtesy of its carousel of super-hero cameos, rather than Jason Aaron’s main storyline concerning Mister Misery’s horribly unsettling plan to implant the “preeminent” surgeon’s former patients with aggressive brain tumours. Indeed, there’s a genuine ickiness to the Alabama-born writer’s suggestion that “the magical being” can cause massive cancerous growths within people’s heads, that can only be off-set by the somewhat humorous appearance of Man-Thing and a pack of ferociously thirsty blood-drinking Nazi Ninja Vampires; “I’ll give you credit for originality in your rogues there, Manny. I guess this is what you get when you’re guardian of the Nexus of all Realities.”
Admittedly, the Inkpot Award recipient’s disagreeable plot twist, which sees the “significant cranial” malformations savagely mutilate any physician foolish enough to make an “initial incision” upon a patient, undoubtedly brings an immense amount of emotional gravitas to this twenty-page periodical’s previously pedestrian pace. But such is the sheer callous ruthlessness with which “The Thing in the Cellar” inflicts the horrendously terminal condition upon its prey, that the entire nauseating sequence debatably must have left a lingering aura of unpleasantness within the minds of this publication’s readers, until the baseball-wielding Sorcerer Supreme is subsequently depicted battering the rather comically-costumed “Undead Reich” to bits after the fanged villains foolishly underestimate “the power of my Man-Thing.”
Equally as enjoyable as Ted Sallis’ alter-ego however, is the inclusion of the Scarlet Witch, Doctor Voodoo, Medico Mistico, and Alpha Flight’s Shaman within Aaron’s script. Understandably, these formidably-powerful magic users are sadly relegated to simply making a fleeting appearance inside The Bar With No Doors, yet their involvement in Stephen’s fruitless search for “the first-born son of Harmir the Hermit” provides a welcome reminder that this particular incarnation of the Master of the Mystic Arts does not defend the Earth from supernatural threats alone.
Whether hired by editor Nick Lowe because his “style owes something to the art of Bernie Wrightson, but with a computer-driven edge” or not, Frazer Irving’s unique-looking illustration work for Issue Seventeen of “Doctor Strange” certainly appears entirely appropriate for such sense-shattering horror-based shenanigans. In fact, the “2000 A.D.” artist’s drawings of Mister Misery warping Samuel Wintergreen’s “pretty brain” with his all-penetrating tendrils is utterly soul-shuddering, and alongside the Englishman’s grotesquely disfigured patients, is undoubtedly the stuff nightmares are made off…