Sanctum Sanctorum

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This article is about the fictional building in the Marvel Universe. For the Latin phrase, see Sanctum sanctorum.
Sanctum Sanctorum
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
In story information
Type House

The Sanctum Sanctorum is a fictional building in the Marvel Universe.

Publication history[edit]

It first appeared with Doctor Strange in his debut in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963).[1] The details of the building have varied by artist, with one reviewer noting for example of Marvel Premiere #3 (July 1972) that "[n]ot since the heady days of Ditko for instance, did the doctor's sanctum sanctorum appear in such scrumptious detail, laden it seemed, with the heavy odor of burning incense".[2]

Location[edit]

The Sanctum Sanctorum is a three-story townhouse located at 177A Bleecker Street, "in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village",[3] a reference to the address of an apartment shared in the 1960s by Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich.[1] In the comics, the building was said to have been built upon the site of pagan sacrifices, and before that Native American rituals, and is a focal point for supernatural energies.

Images of the Sanctum Sanctorum and its real life facade can be seen on the Watha T. Daniel Library Blog as well as the DE/VL Design Blog.

Architecture[edit]

The building's depiction has varied over the years but some elements remain consistent. Notably, that there seems to be more space inside than there would seem to be from outside.[1] Some corridors form labyrinths, and the arrangement of rooms seems to change by itself. The house holds many powerful magical items, some of which have an innocent appearance. Some are dangerous, such as a radio which is fatal to the touch. The basement contains storage, a furnace, and the laundry. The first floor contains living rooms, dining rooms, and the general library. The second floor holds living quarters for Strange, Wong, and any guests they may have. The third floor of the building is specifically the Sanctum Sanctorum, for that is where Strange has his meditation room and occult library, where he keeps the Book of the Vishanti, and his repository of ancient artifacts and objects of magical power, such as the Orb of Agamotto.[1] The Sanctum consistently has a circular window with four swooping lines; this design has stayed with the building despite the window's destruction on many occasions. The design is actually the Seal of the Vishanti found in the window of Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum; it protects the Sanctum from most supernatural invaders, also called "Window of the Worlds," or the Anomaly Rue.[4] Certain members of the New Avengers appear to acknowledge this. Chemistro, a super-villain member of the Hood's army, though possessing no such power to directly break that of the Vishanti's, was able to change the chemical composition of the wood that held the seal to break it.[5] In one story Baron Mordo was able to transport the house to another dimension.[6]

Residents[edit]

Its main residents, apart from Strange, have been his lover/apprentice Clea, his manservant Wong, and the apprentice sorcerer Rintrah.

The Sanctum Sanctorum became the headquarters of the New Avengers for a time, having been magically disguised as an abandoned building designated as a construction site for a future Starbucks cafe. The run-down disguise extends to the interior of the building as so needed, undetectable by even the Extremis armor of Iron Man.[citation needed]

The building has formerly served as headquarters of the Defenders as well.[1]

Defenses[edit]

After constructing the house, Doctor Strange cast a permanent, intricate spell of mystical force to protect it. Despite this, it was seemingly destroyed in a siege by mystical forces, during the Midnight Sons storyline, while various heroes such as the Nightstalkers, Ghost Rider, and Johnny Blaze were hiding inside.[volume & issue needed]

During the World War Hulk storyline, the Sanctum was partially invaded by the forces of the alien Warbound, its defensive enchantments and illusions shattered by Hiroim.[7]

After using unacceptable dark magics in the fight against the Hulk, the Sanctum is invaded by the Hood's army as mentioned before. The fight devastates the Sanctum, though the villains are defeated. Doctor Strange is forced to retreat when the battle allows the government-sanctioned Mighty Avengers to take over the Sanctum. Brother Voodoo is called in neutralize the remnants of the defensive magics.[5]

On at least one occasion, Doctor Strange has destroyed the defenses of the Sanctum to avoid their exploitation by a foe.[8]

Other versions[edit]

Marvel Zombies[edit]

In the 'Marvel Zombies' continuity, a handful of heroes try to find help and information at the Sanctum. Wong is slain there by a zombified Doctor Druid, who is then killed by Ash Williams. Some of the semi-living books in the house provide vital assistance in the zombie-resistance effort.[9]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

In the 'Ultimate Marvel' continuity, a taxi propelled by great force is enough to pierce the defense of the house. The top-floor window sigil is shattered, along with the 'prison' for a large amount of monsters. These are let loose, followed by Dormammu. The Sanctum is demolished in the process. Strange does not survive the resulting fight with Dormammu.[10]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • The Sanctum Sanctorum first appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "Enter Dormammu." It is heavily featured in other episodes.

Film[edit]

Video games[edit]

  • The Sanctum Sanctorum serves as the heroes' headquarters for a third of the game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. They move there from Stark Tower after learning of Loki's involvement in Doctor Doom's master plan (because he, disguised as Mandarin in Atlantis, managed to sidetrack the heroes' team from getting to Doom). From there, the player can access Murderworld (which first appears as a thinly-disguised Doom Castle, courtesy of a diversion spell by Baron Mordo) and Mephisto's Realm. If the player has Doctor Strange on their team, they can enter his room.
  • The Sanctum Sanctorum is also featured in The Incredible Hulk as a landmark.
  • The Sanctum Sanctorum also appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man video game as a landmark.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Sanderson, Peter (2007). The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City. New York City: Pocket Books. pp. 24–27. ISBN 1-4165-3141-6. 
  2. ^ Pierre Comtois, Marvel Comics in the 1970s: An Issue-by-Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon (2011), p. 106.
  3. ^ Gina Renée Misiroglu, David A. Roach, The Superhero Book: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Comic-book Icons and Hollywood Heroes (2004), p. 183.
  4. ^ Strange Tales #110 (1963)
  5. ^ a b New Avengers Annual #2
  6. ^ Strange Tales #117 (1964)
  7. ^ World War Hulk #3
  8. ^ M. Keith Booker, Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels (2010), p. 156.
  9. ^ Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness #3 (July 2007)
  10. ^ Jeph Loeb (w). Ultimatum 1-5 (January - September 2009), Marvel Comics