Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange by Deodato.jpg
Doctor Strange as featured in Witches #1 (August 2004). Art by Mike Deodato.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Strange Tales #110 (July 1963)
Created by Stan Lee
Steve Ditko
In-story information
Alter ego Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange
Team affiliations New Avengers
The Order
Notable aliases Stephen Sanders
Vincent Stevens
Abilities Mastery of magic and extended life span
Genius-level intellect
Skilled neurosurgeon and martial artist

Doctor Stephen Strange is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was co-created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, and first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963).

Debuting in the Silver Age of comics, the character has featured in several self-titled series and Marvel-endorsed products including arcade and video games; animated television series; a direct-to-DVD film; and merchandise such as trading cards.


Publication history


The character, co-created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, debuted in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963), a "split book" shared with fellow Marvel character the Human Torch until issue #134 (July 1965), and then super-spy Nick Fury until issue #168 (May 1968). Strange appeared in issues #110-111 and #114 before the character's eight-page origin story appeared in #115 (Dec. 1963).

Ditko drew the feature through Strange Tales #146 (July 1966), and during this period he and Lee introduced many of Strange's allies, such as his eventual lover Clea, who debuted (although not initially named) in Strange Tales #126 (Nov. 1964); and enemies, such as Nightmare in #110, and the flame-headed Dormammu, in #126 (Nov. 1964). "Doctor Strange" stories showcased surrealistic mystical landscapes and increasingly head-trippy visuals that helped make the feature a favorite of college students. Comics historian Mike Benton wrote,

The Dr. Strange stories of the 1960s constructed a cohensive cosmology that would have thrilled any self-respecting theosophist. College students, minds freshly opened by psychedelic experiences and Eastern mysticism, read Ditko and Lee's Dr. Strange stories with the belief of a recent Hare Krishna convert. Meaning was everywhere, and readers analyzed the Dr. Strange stories for their relationship to Egyptian myths, Sumarian gods, and Jungian archetypes.[1]

"People who read 'Doctor Strange' thought people at Marvel must be heads [e.g., drug users]," recalled then-associate editor and former Doctor 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."[2]

Eventually, as co-plotter and later sole plotter, in the "Marvel Method", Ditko would take Strange into ever-more-abstract realms. In an epic 17-issue story arc in Strange Tales #130-146 (July 1965 - July 1966), Ditko introduced the cosmic character Eternity, who personified the universe and was depicted as a silhouette whose outlines are filled with the cosmos.[3] As historian Bradford W. Wright describes,

Steve Ditko contributed some of his most surrealistic work to the comic book and gave it a disorienting, hallucinogenic quality. Dr. Strange's adventures take place in bizarre worlds and twisting dimensions that resembled Salvador Dali paintings. ...Inspired by the pulp-fiction magicians of Stan Lee's childhood as well as by contemporary Beat culture. Dr. Strange remarkably predicted the youth counterculture's fascination with Eastern mysticism and psychedelia. Never among Marvel's more popular or accessible characters, Dr. Strange still found a niche among an audience seeking a challenging alternative to more conventional superhero fare.[4]

From the beginning, stories revealed that Doctor Strange used magical artifacts to augment his power, such as the Cloak of Levitation,[5] the Eye of Agamotto, inStrange Tales #115 (Dec. 1963); the Book of the Vishanti in #116 (Jan. 1964); and the Orb of Agamotto in #118 (March 1964). From the first story, Strange's residence, the Sanctum Sanctorum, was a part of the character's mythos. The trademark circular window divided by three sweeping lines on the front of the residence (actually the protective Seal of the Vishanti)[citation needed] appeared in many Doctor Strange stories. Strange's personal servant, Wong, introduced in #147 (Aug. 1966), guarded the residence in his absence.

Splash page for the "Doctor Strange" story in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). Art by Steve Ditko.

In keeping with Lee's emphasis on continuity, Strange was also quickly established as part of the Marvel Universe, and guest starred in The Fantastic Four #27 (June 1964), encountered the Norse god Loki, foster brother of Thor, in Strange Tales #123 (August 1964), and guest-starred with Ditko's other major Marvel co-creation in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2 (1965).

The series continued with Lee dialoging Ditko's plots through Strange Tales #142, followed by Roy Thomas (two issues) and Denny O'Neil (two issues). Ditko's last issue was Strange Tales #146, with Golden Age artist/writer Bill Everett succeeding Ditko as artist until issue #152, followed by Marie Severin through #160 and Dan Adkins through #168,[6] the final issue before the "Nick Fury" feature moved to its own title and Strange Tales was renamed Doctor Strange.

Lee returned to write the character in Strange Tales #151-157; followed by Thomas (#158-159); and two writers who did virtually no other Marvel work, Raymond Marais (#160-161) and Jim Lawrence (#162-166). The post-Ditko Strange Tales stories introduced another cosmic entity, the Living Tribunal, in issue #157 (June 1967) and the evil Umar, sister of Dormammu, in #150 (Nov. 1966). The title, however, was flagging, with Strange encountering such one-off foes such as Nebulos and Voltorg in Strange Tales #162 (Nov. 1967) and #166 (March 1968), respectively.

The now 20-page Doctor Strange solo series ran 15 issues, #169-183 (June 1968 - Nov. 1969), continuing the numbering of Strange Tales. Thomas wrote the run of new stories (Strange Tales #179 being a reprint), joined after the first three issues by the art team of penciler Gene Colan and inker Tom Palmer through the end. Thomas and Colan attempted to boost sales by revamping Strange and making the character closer to being a superhero. Given a form-fitting blue costume, a full-head mask and a secret identity as Dr. Stephen Sanders, the character teamed with the superheroes the Black Knight in Doctor Strange #178 (March 1969) and Spider-Man in #179 (April 1969), and he battled the X-Men foe Juggernaut in #182 (Sept. 1969). The cancellation with #183 was abrupt (there was a "Next issue" blurb in the last issue), and outstanding storylines were resolved in Sub-Mariner #22 (Feb. 1970) and The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #126 (April 1970).

Thomas recalled in 2000 that he eloped in July 1968 to marry his first wife, Jean, and returned to work a day late from a weekend comic book convention to find that Marvel production manager Sol Brodsky had assigned Doctor Strange to writer Archie Goodwin, newly ensconced at Marvel and writing Iron Man. Thomas convinced Brodsky to allow him to continue writing the title. "I got very possessive about Doctor Strange," Thomas recalled. "It wasn't a huge seller, but [by the time it was canceled] we were selling the low 40 percent range of more than 400,000 print run, so it was actually selling a couple hundred thousand copies [but] at the time you needed to sell even more."[7]

1970s – 1990s

Strange next appeared in the first three issues (Dec. 1971 - June 1972) of the quarterly showcase title Marvel Feature, appearing in both the main story detailing the formation of superhero "non-team" the Defenders, and the related back-up story. The character then starred in a revival solo series in Marvel Premiere #3-14 (July 1972 – March 1974). This arc marked the debut of another recurring foe, the entity Shuma-Gorath, created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Frank Brunner. In issues #8-10 (May-Sept. 1973), in order to stop Shuma-Gorath from entering our reality, Strange was forced to shut down the Ancient One's mind, causing his mentor's physical death. The Ancient One, however, assured Strange this was a necessary sacrifice and his soul merged with the cosmic entity Eternity. With the Ancient One's death, Strange then assumed the title of Sorcerer Supreme.

The Marvel Premiere series segued to the character's second ongoing title, Doctor Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts, also known as Doctor Strange vol. 2, which ran 81 issues (June 1974 – Feb. 1987). During this period Strange met his allies Topaz in #75 (Feb. 1986) and Rintrah in #80 (Dec. 1986). The series ended with a cliffhanger as the Sanctum Sanctorum was heavily damaged during a battle. Among the losses was Doctor Strange's entire collection of mystic books and other important artifacts. As a consequence, Strange was now considerably weaker and several spells designed to protect humanity from vampires and the evil serpent god Set would now expire.

Following the title's cancellation, the character's adventures continued in Strange Tales vol. 2, #1-19 (April 1987 – Oct. 1988), which was again published in the "split book" format, shared with street heroes Cloak and Dagger. This new Doctor Strange series resolved Strange's quest to reclaim his power and missing artifacts, as well as resurrect the Defenders who had died in the last issue of that team's title.

Strange then appeared in another self-titled series, Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme, which ran 90 issues (Nov. 1988 - June 1996). The initial creative team was writer Peter B. Gillis and artists Richard Case and Randy Emberlin, with storylines often written as multi-issue arcs. Strange lost the title of "Sorcerer Supreme" in issues #48-49 (Dec. 1992 – Jan. 1993) when he refused to fight a war on behalf of the Vishanti, the mystical entities that empower his spells. During this time the series became part of the "Midnight Sons" group of Marvel's supernatural comics,[volume & issue needed] and Doctor Strange found new sources of magical strength in the form of chaos magic[volume & issue needed] as well as a magic-fueled robot he used as a proxy.[volume & issue needed] He would also form the Secret Defenders with a rotating roster of heroes, and reunite with the original Defenders. Strange regained his title in Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #80 (Aug. 1995).

Strange appeared – together with original regulars the Human Torch and the Thing – in the one-shot publication Strange Tales vol. 3, #1 (Nov. 1994).

The character was also featured in several limited series, the first being Doctor Strange: The Flight of Bones #1-4 (Feb.–May 1999), with a series of spontaneous combustions by criminals instigated by old foe Dormammu. Strange was the catalyst for the creation of a trio of sorceresses in Witches #1-4 (Aug.–Nov. 2004), A third limited series, Doctor Strange: The Oath #1-5 (Dec. 2006 – April 2007), written by Brian K Vaughan and illustrated by Marcos Martin, focused on Strange's duty as Sorcerer Supreme and the nature of his powers.

Doctor Strange has also appeared in four graphic novels over the years: Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa (1986); Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment (1989); Spider-Man/Dr. Strange: The Way to Dusty Death (1992); and Dr. Strange: What is it that Disturbs You, Stephen? (Oct. 1997).

The character has remained a constant in the Marvel Universe over the decades, appearing on a regular basis in three volumes of the title Defenders,[8] Secret Defenders,[9] and a limited series focused on the Defenders, The Order #1-6 (April–Sept. 2002). Strange appeared in several stories of the superhero team-up titled aptly named Marvel Team-Up[10] and other one-off stories in Marvel Two-in-One #6 (Nov. 1974) and #49 (March 1979), and several issues of Marvel Fanfare,[11] He starred in stories in the alternate universe title What If? #18 (Dec. 1979) and #40 (Aug. 1983). He also appeared, either in person or behind the scenes, with the titular trio of vampire slayers in the 19-issue run of Nightstalkers. (Nov. 1992 – April 1994).

Doctor Strange #177 (February 1969), the debut of Strange's short-lived new look. Cover art by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.

2000s –

Strange appeared as a supporting character the 2000s. In New Avengers #7 (July 2005), writer Brian Michael Bendis retconned Marvel history and established that in the past, several metahumans, including Strange, formed a secret council called the Illuminati to deal with future threats to Earth. In present-day continuity, during the 2006-2007 company-wide Civil War storyline involving the introduction of a federal Superhuman Registration Act, which splits the superhero community, Strange is opposed to mandatory registration. Beginning with New Avengers #27 (April 2007), he secretly shelters in his residence the anti-registration splinter group of the Avengers. The legislation was eventually repealed. Strange then sought out a successor Sorcerer Supreme. After he had considered several magic-users such as Wiccan, the Scarlet Witch, Magik, and Doctor Doom, the Eye of Agamotto chose Brother Voodoo in New Avengers #54 (Aug. 2009). Rechristened Doctor Voodoo, he sacrifices himself in New Avengers vol. 2, #6 (Jan. 2011) in order to stop the powerful mystical entity Agamotto from reclaiming the Eye. The following issue, a guilt-ridden Strange, rejoining the New Avengers, offers the team his servant Wong to act as their housekeeper.

Powers and abilities

Doctor Strange is a master magician, and was the holder of the title of "Sorcerer Supreme" of the cosmos for many years. Eternity, the sentience of the Marvel Universe, has described Strange as "more powerful by far than any of your fellow humanoids",[12] narration has described him as "the mightiest magician in the cosmos",[13][volume & issue needed] and the Stranger considers him on a level with cosmic entities.[14]

Doctor Strange can use magic to achieve virtually any effect he desires, such as telepathy,[15] energy blasts,[16] teleportation,[17] astral projection,[15] the creation of materials (such as food[18] and water),[19] creating planet-wide protective shields,[20] restoring himself from bodily destruction,[21][volume & issue needed] or resurrecting the dead.[22][volume & issue needed]

When casting a spell, the character is often written to be invoking the name of a mystical entity, such as one of the Vishanti (Hoggoth, Oshtur, and Agamotto) or the group the Octessence.[citation needed] These entities usually lend their power to a particular effect, such as the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, that Strange can use to entrap foes.[23]

Strange is capable of stopping and reversing time,[24][volume & issue needed] sealing black holes,[25][volume & issue needed] restoring universes,[13] absorbing power enough to unconsciously destroy any surrounding galaxies,[26][volume & issue needed] growing to the size of and merging with universal concepts,[27][volume & issue needed] and helped to channel the mass of the entire Marvel Universe.[28][volume & issue needed] Among other things, he has defeated the In-Betweener,[29][volume & issue needed] and the Beyonder stated that Strange had him at a disadvantage when in a previously disoriented state.[30][volume & issue needed] Strange has shown he is able to contact others telepathically even if his body is paralyzed.[citation needed]

Strange was also schooled in the use of dark magic by one-time foe Kaluu, using it to temporarily destroy the entity Shuma-Gorath.[citation needed] The use of this magic, however, was both addictive and corruptive and Kaluu had to purge the magic from Strange before it could take full effect.[31]

Since passing the mantle of the Sorcerer Supreme and the Eye of Agamotto to Doctor Voodoo, Strange's magic is not as powerful as it once was.[citation needed] However, he is still a considerably formidable sorcerer regardless.


  • Baron Mordo - Traitorous fellow student to the Ancient One, and disciple of Dormammu.
  • Chthon - Elder God of black magic, written down in the Darkhold.
  • D'Spayre - A Fear Lord created by the Dweller-in-Darkness to embody despair.
  • Dormammu - Strange's archenemy. A higher-dimensional energy being, and god-emperor of his own universe, seeking to turn all life and afterlife into a torture camp enacted to the glory of himself.
  • Dracula - Undead lord of the vampires.
  • Dweller-in-Darkness - Older than the universe and most powerful of the Fear Lords.
  • In-Betweener - The balancing agent between the forces of Chaos and Order, wishing to rebel and ruthlessly rebalance the universe according to its wishes.
  • Kaluu - Immortal archrival of the Ancient One, and the greatest human master of dark magic.
  • Lilith - An ancient demon connected to ancient Atlantis, and mother of the Lilin.
  • Mephisto - One of the most powerful Hell-lords.
  • Nightmare - A fear lord who rules the plagued dreams of all humans, and one of Strange's greatest enemies.
  • Nox - One of the fear lords.
  • Satannish - One of the most powerful Hell-lords, created by Dormammu billions of years ago.
  • Set - Elder God of chaos, and master of the Serpent Crown.
  • Shuma-Gorath - One of the greatest undying many-angled ones. An ancient force older than time, lord of chaos, and a massive universal threat. Responsible for killing Strange's mentor, the Ancient One.
  • Silver Dagger - A former Cardinal in the Catholic Church, who went insane after reading the Darkhold, and turned into a fanatic witch-hunter, believing them an affront to God.
  • Umar - Sister of Dormammu. An entity motivated by hedonism, sadism, and thirst for power.
  • Urthona - An alien sorcerer that sought to usurp Strange's power and position.
  • Xandu - A sorcerer seeking power through the Wand of Watoomb.
  • Yandroth - The Scientist Supreme of his universe, pitting the combination of his technology and sorcerous knowledge against Strange's magic.
  • Zom - The most powerful demon in existence, beyond even Eternity's ability to defeat alone.

Other versions

The character has starred in several alternate universe titles. In the miniseries Marvel 1602 #1-8 (Nov. 2003 - June 2004), Sir Stephen Strange is both the court physician and magician to Queen Elizabeth I. The title Spider-Man 2099 introduces a female version of Strange who shares her body with a demon in issue #33 (July 1995). The miniseries Strange #1-6 (Nov. 2004 – April 2005), written by J. Michael Straczynski and Samm Barnes, with artwork by Brandon Peterson, reimagined the character's origin, allies and enemies in a contemporary setting.

In the miniseries Marvel Zombies #1-5 (Feb. – June 2006), Strange is infected with a zombie virus along with many other heroes. He reappears in the second sequel, Marvel Zombies 3 #1-4 (Dec. 2008 – March 2009)

In the alternate future universe of the Marvel imprint MC2, Doctor Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme, the title being passed to one Doc Magnus. Doctor Strange uses his remaining power to reform the superhero team the Defenders in A-Next #3 (Dec. 1998) and to fight the Norse god of mischief, Loki, Last Hero Standing #4 (Feb. 2005).

The Ultimate Marvel title Ultimate Marvel Team-Up introduced a version of the character called "Stephen Strange, Jr.", the son of the original Doctor Strange, in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #12 (July 2002). The character was killed in battle by the Ultimate Marvel version of Dormammu in the miniseries Ultimatum #1-5 (Jan.–Sept. 2009).

Two months before the debut of the sorcerer-hero Doctor Strange, Stan Lee (editor and story-plotter), Robert Bernstein (scripter, under the pseudonym "R. Berns"), and Jack Kirby (artist) introduced a criminal scientist and Ph.D. with the same surname (called "Carl Strange"). Making his sole appearance in the Iron Man story "The Stronghold of Dr. Strange" in Tales of Suspense #41 (May 1963), the character gained mental powers in a freak lightning strike.

In other media

Collected editions

Various Doctor Strange stories have been collected into separate volumes.

Essential Marvel black-and-white trade paperbacks:

  • Doctor Strange Vol. 1 (1963–1968), collects Strange Tales #110-111, 114-168; December 2001, ISBN 0-7851-2316-4
  • Doctor Strange Vol. 2 (1968–1974), collects Doctor Strange #169-178, 180-183; The Avengers #61; Sub-Mariner #22; The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #126; Marvel Feature #1; Marvel Premiere #3-10, 12-14; December 2005, ISBN 0-7851-1668-0
  • Doctor Strange Vol. 3 (1974–1978), collects Doctor Strange vol. 2, #1-29, Annual #1; The Tomb of Dracula #44-45; December 2007, ISBN 978-0785127338
  • Doctor Strange Vol. 4 (1978–1981), collects Doctor Strange vol. 2, #30-56; Chamber of Chills #4; Man-Thing #4; June 2009, ISBN 978-0785130628

Full-color hardcover Marvel Masterworks volumes:

  • Doctor Strange Vol. 1, collects Strange Tales #110-111, 114-141; September 2003, ISBN 0-7851-1180-8
  • Doctor Strange Vol. 2, collects Strange Tales #142-168; September 2005, ISBN 0-7851-1737-7
  • Doctor Strange Vol. 3, collects Doctor Strange #169-179; The Avengers #61; March 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2410-1
  • Doctor Strange Vol. 4, collects Doctor Strange #180-183; Sub-Mariner #22; The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #126; Marvel Feature #1; Marvel Premiere #3-8; January 2010, ISBN 978-0-7851-3495-4

Full-color trade paperbacks:

  • Doctor Strange: A Separate Reality, collects Marvel Premiere #9-10, 12-14; Doctor Strange vol. 2, #1-2, 4-5; June 2002, ISBN 0-7851-0836-X
  • Doctor Strange: The Oath, collects Doctor Strange: The Oath #1-5; May 2007, ISBN 978-0-7851-2211-1
  • Doctor Strange: Strange Tales, collects Strange Tales vol. 2, #1-19; October 2011, ISBN 978-0-7851-5549-2


  1. ^ Benton, Mike (1991). Superhero Comics of the Silver Age: The Illustrated History. Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Company. p. 63. ISBN 978-0878337460. 
  2. ^ Green, Robin (September 16, 1971). "Face Front! Clap Your Hands, You're on the Winning Team!". Rolling Stone (via fan site Green Skin's Grab-Bag) (91): page 31 of print version. Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Strange Tales #134". Grand Comics Database.  "Indexer notes: Part 5 of 17. First mention of Eternity. Strange would finally find it in Strange Tales #138 (November 1965)."
  4. ^ Wright, Bradford W. (2001). Comic Book Nation: Transformation of a Youth Culture. Johns Hopkins. p. 213. ISBN 0-8018-7450-5. 
  5. ^ The blue "novice" version first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963), with the red "master" version first appearing in Strange Tales #127 (Dec. 1964).
  6. ^ With layouts by George Tuska on #166 (March 1968).
  7. ^ Thomas (interviewer) (Autumn 2000). "So You Want a Job, Eh? The Gene Colan Interview". Alter Ego 3 (6): 13–14. 
  8. ^ Defenders #1-152 (Aug. 1972 - Feb. 1986); Defenders vol. 2, #1-12 (March 2001 - Feb. 2002), and Defenders vol. 3, #1-5 (Sept. 2005 - Jan. 2006)
  9. ^ Secret Defenders #1-25 (March 1993 - March 1995)
  10. ^ Marvel Team-Up #21 (May 1974), #35 (July 1975), #50 (Oct. 1976), #76 (Dec. 1978), #80-81 (April–May 1979); Marvel Team-Up vol. 2, #8-9 (April–May 1998); Marvel Team-Up vol. 3, #3 (Feb. 2005), #11-13 (Oct.–Nov. 2005)
  11. ^ Marvel Fanfare #5-6 (Nov. 1982 - Jan. 1983), #8 (May 1983), #21 (July 1985), #41 (Dec. 1988), #49 (Feb. 1990)
  12. ^ Marvel Fanfare #41 (February 1989)
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ Beyond! #6 (December 2006)
  15. ^ a b Strange Tales #110 (July 1963)
  16. ^ Strange Tales #126 (November 1964)
  17. ^ Strange Tales #162 (December 1967)
  18. ^ Defenders (vol. 1) #18 (December 1974)
  19. ^ Defenders (vol. 1) #6 (June 1973)
  20. ^ Defenders (vol. 1) #8 (September 1973)
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Defenders (vol. 1) #15 (September 1974)
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "ImageShack® - Online Photo and Video Hosting". Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Strange Tales vol. 2, #8-14 (November 1987 – May 1988)

External links

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