Synopsis for “The Grand Illusion!”
Dr. Strange begins training Clea anew having her try to control the Rings of Raggador while he attacks her mystically. Although Clea fails to maintain to rings, she manages to deflect his attack, Strange’s goal all along. As reward for passing her test, Strange awards her with her very own spell book to transcribe her own magic spells. Going downstairs, Strange walks into a middle of a squabble between Wong and Sara Wolfe over the disclosure of Wong’s purchases to try and get tax credits. Strange defuses the situation by explaining to her that the IRS might not allow ingredients for magic spells as a write off.
Suddenly Strange feels some evil forces at work and retreats to his study with Clea in tow. Consulting the Orb of Agamotto, Strange detects an evil disturbance of Norcross on the North Carolina boarder. The disturbance originates from the Norcross University, a conservative University untouched by modern day Student rights movements. Within it’s hallowed halls a discovery is made: A trunk full of ancient artifacts brought back from the Orient by the University’s founder Dr. James Narcross more than a century ago. Finding an ancient bell inside, Miss Wellesley, a teacher at the school, allows one of her students to ring it, they are instantly mesmerized by the sound of the bell and continue to strike it in their trance like states. It’s chimes would begin to effect the student body around the school.
Flying to North Carolina, Strange detects the bells chimes and tries to enter the school building in his astral form, but finds a mystical barrier barring him from access. Arriving at the school in person later, Strange attempts to appeal to the Dean about the occult forces at work. The Dean finds the whole story preposterous and demands Strange to leave until a brick is hurled through his window. Outside is an uncharacteristic student protest reminiscent of similar protests from the 1960’s.
Detecting mystical forces at work, Strange and Clea leap into action and expel the mystical influences within the students, which turns out to be the mystical being known as Ikonn, a master of illusions. Ikonn explains that he is getting revenge against his followers and is forced to explain himself when Strange uses the Eye of Agomotto against the mystical avatar: That centuries ago while travelling through Tibet, James Norcross found an ancient temple. There people within the temple worshipped Ikonn, and built a bell in his honour. Finding the worshipping of a “false” idol sacrilegious, Norcross would steal the bell and take it back to him to America where he would hide it from the “savages” he stole it from.
Strange is forced to battle Ikonn, however realizes that the creatures powers are increasing. Ikonn explains that with each peal of the bell his powers grow and soon he will be able to change all reality about him. Strange travels to the location of the bell and tries to stop the girl from ringing it anymore, however Ikonn erects a mystical barrier preventing Strange from stopping her. However, Strange finds a new way to cancel out the spell, by casting a counter spell slowing time around the inside of the barrier, Strange interrupts the time between each ring, causing the spell to nullify and sending Ikonn back to his own realm.
Strange would then return to the Dean’s office, casting a spell of forgetfulness on all who witnessed the event. As the Dean continues to explain that he finds the claims preposterous, a student enters and informs the Dean that they have established a student union and has come with a list of demands. Strange and Clea use this as a means to slip away, and Strange comes to realize what Ikonn’s final jest was: To shatter the illusions of the University’s conservative institution by making the students think for themselves on the campus policy.