Summaries are tricky, treacherous things. I loathe writing them and, on occasion, I wince when reading them. They should reveal enough plot to tease, yes, but be mindful of shedding too many details. Summaries are at once a burlesque show and a tight-rope act, and every now and again I come across one that thoroughly entertains, one that seduces and sells. There’s no set criteria for what works; nothing that’s guaranteed to hook me. Let’s take the book that prompted this post as a for instance: the summary sold me on it because it is glorious in its absurdity. I would have read it no matter what, sure, because Doctor Strange. But, here:
“A window-crashing, high-flying, globe-traveling, ghost-battling adventure from the earliest days of Doctor Strange’s training in the mystic arts! Part Indiana Jones, part Lord of the Rings, this brand new tale of how a selfish arrogant surgeon collided with a hot-headed martial artist to become the greatest team the mystic arts have ever seen! If only they can stop hitting each other and figure out how all this magic stuff works anyway…”
Let’s just take a moment to wrap our heads around an Indiana Jones/Lord of the Rings mash-up. Imagine it: Indy and the Ents! Gimli and the Mines of Hey, That Alien Just Killed More Orcs Than You! Got that all worked out? Alright. Now let’s appreciate the beauty that is that last line, because that, right there, is the money-maker, folks; the reason why I could not, in a million years, pass this book up even if I were of a mind to:
“If only they can stop hitting each other and figure out how all this magic stuff works anyway…”
“If only they can stop hitting each other”…!!!
I can’t. I just can’t with that. I mean, raise your hand if you simply must see this happen. What, with the cape and the…the…extra long, swishy belt! *supports held high, wildly waving arm with hand at elbow*
(Don’t even try to tell me it’s not going to be like Vicent Price possessed by Curly from The Three Stooges. I won’t believe you.)
After that imagery smacks you in the face, consider this quote, taken from Wikipedia’s Doctor Strange entry, if you will:
“People who read ‘Dr. Strange’ thought people at Marvel must be heads [e.g., drug users],” recalled then-associate editor and former Dr. Strange writer Roy Thomas in 1971, “because they had had similar experiences high on mushrooms. But … I don’t use hallucinogens, nor do I think any artists do.”
Again, I can’t. (But now I know why I get strange looks every time I start giggling after saying, mock-serious, Eye of Agamotto. But I digress. [Which is maybe an omen that I should wrap this up because, on reflection, I think I might be the only one delighted by the possibilites of this Doctor Strange reboot. Seriously, though, the slapstick potential is, like, huge. Undeniable. Even if it's not the intent.]) Now that this post has gone completely off the rails – and I’m not even sure how it happened (Yes, I am. It was the Eye of Agamotto. Does it to me every time, gosh darn it.) – let me bring this baby back around…
Three cheers for sublime (or trippy – whatever works!) summaries!