Marvel Comics introduced angst and funk into the reading lives of superhero junkies under the slangy, rib-elbowing captions of Stan Lee, the perspective-black magic of penciler-genius Jack Kirby and the quirky, twitchy mind of fellow penciler Steve Ditko.

Spider-Man would be Ditko’s immortal contribution to American pop culture, but where Spidey was more or less constrained by the physics of an indifferent New York City, Ditko’s other brainchild, Doctor Strange, could be pigeonholed by neither gravity nor “reality” itself.

Doctor Strange shared with Plastic Man what amounted to a less than admirable character having a near death experience and deciding to change his ways after being saved and cared for by gentle, spiritual types: but whereas a freak accident gave “Eel” O’Brian the capability to alter his flesh into any manifestation that tickled his funny bone, Stephen Strange could mess with time, with the hereafter, with other dimensions, with the soul.

There was always a lot at stake in “Doctor Strange” stories – not to mention an unforgettable supporting cast. The Master of the Mystic Arts himself thought better than to antagonize “the mindless ones,” whenever possible. Surely the relative obscurity of this particular superhero is the saving grace of the new animated film – the fact that kids won’t be throwing tantrums for an “All-Seeing Eye of Agamotto” anytime soon. Doctor Strange the animated film feels as though it were crafted by a group of “true believers.”

May the hucksters and the rest stay far away from the good Doctor’s brownstone. He has enough worries.

Grade: A

Doctor Strange is currently available.