Doctor Strange is a
fictional comic-book sorcerer and
universe. Created by writer-editor
first appeared in
Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). Additionally, the name had been used for
a different Marvel character two months earlier.
Dr. Stephen Strange is the
Sorcerer Supreme of
responsible for defending it from mystic threats. He is a master of the
mystic arts, using his abilities to battle evil magicians and other
villains. He is also often consulted by other superheroes on supernatural
||Strange Tales #110 (July 1963)
||Dr. Stephen Strange
||Sorcerer Supreme; Stephen Sanders; Captain Universe
||Victor Strange, Baron Blood II (brother,
(interdimensional companion, wife)
||Able to wield magic to an almost infinite number of effects,
commonly including mystic bolts,
After debuting in Strange Tales #110 and returning in the next issue,
the 9- to 10-page feature "Dr. Strange" skipped two issues and then returned
permanently with #114 (Nov. 1963). Steve Ditko's
surrealistic mystical landscapes and increasingly head-trippy visuals helped
make the feature a favorite of 1960s college students, according to
contemporaneous accounts. Ditko, as co-plotter and later sole plotter, in the "Marvel
Method", would eventually take Strange into ever-more-abstract realms that
nonetheless remained well-grounded thanks to Stan Lee's reliably humanistic,
opera dialog. Doctor Strange shared the "split book" Strange Tales
with solo adventures of
Fantastic Four member the
Torch (whose feature had begun in issue #101), and, beginning with #135,
with its replacement feature, "Nick
Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.".
While Lee and Ditko themselves interacted less and less as each went their
different creative ways, Doctor Strange's storyline culminated with what
historians consider one of modern comics' great moments: the introduction, in
issue #146 (July 1966), of Ditko's grand and enduring conception of
Eternity, the personification of the universe, depicted as a majestic
silhouette whose outlines are filled with the cosmos. It was a groundbreaking
creation at a time long before such cosmic conceits were commonplace, and
Ditko's final bow on the feature.
"Doctor Strange" continued to the end of the book's run, when the "Fury"
feature was spun off into its own title and Strange Tales was renamed
Doctor Strange with issue #169 (June 1968). Note: This is the title
as given in the book's postal indicia; Dr. Strange's various series have
confusingly changed their cover-logo titles much more than most series. See the
Bibliography for details.
Doctor Strange's first namesake comic book, written by
with art by
penciler Gene Colan,
lasted only until issue #183, by which point in the low-selling series Strange
was wearing a full-face cowl in an effort to more resemble a Marvel
That look was short-lived and subsequently abandoned.
Strange's next series began in the 1970s showcase title Marvel Premiere,
which spun-off the solo title generally listed as Doctor Strange: Master of
the Mystic Arts. (The original 1968 comic had also used that subtitle for
time, though not in the indicia.) An acclaimed early arc by writer
Steve Englehart and penciller/co-plotter
Brunner, beginning in Marvel Premiere featured the death of Strange's
One, and led Strange to meet
Reflecting that era's trend toward "cosmic" characters and stories a trend
ironically begun in the Lee-Ditko '60s stories this turn away from more
traditionally occult, supernatural stories helped propel the soon-to-be-spun-off
series through 81 issues, under various teams.
Through 1987-88, the character returned in Strange Tales Vol. 2,
#1-19, appearing in 11-page stories in this "split book" shared with the feature
and Dagger". This was followed by Strange's third solo title, generally
listed as Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme, which lasted 90 issues from
1988-96. Doctor Strange also appeared in various miniseries and two graphic
novels, and in major recurring roles in the 1970s feature and later comic book
The Defenders and in the 1990s comic book
Dr. Stephen Strange was born on
Pennsylvania. A few months later the Stranges moved to a farm in
There Stephen was brought up alongside his brother Victor and sister Donna.
He became an accomplished but arrogant surgeon until he suffered subtle,
though profound, neurological damage in an automobile accident in 1963. Unable
to continue his profession and too hubristic to accept subordinate medical
assignments, he became unemployed and destitute. Learning of a hermit called the
One who could possibly cure him, the desperate Strange ventured to the man's
Himalayan abode and asked for aid. The Ancient One instead offered to take
on Strange as an apprentice. Strange refused, but could not leave immediately
due to a sudden blizzard.
While staying for the duration, he witnessed the Ancient One's apprentice,
Mordo, secretly attack the teacher with mystically summoned entities, which
the old man easily dispelled. Strange, his skepticism eroding, confronted Mordo
about the treachery; Mordo responded with restraining spells that kept Strange
both from warning the Ancient One or attacking Mordo physically. Amazed by these
magic, alarmed by Mordo, but frustrated by the mystic restraints, Strange
underwent a change of heart. Deciding the only way to stop Mordo was to learn
magic himself in order to challenge Mordo on his terms, Strange accepted the
Ancient One's offer. Pleased by Strange's acceptance for unselfish reasons, the
Ancient One removed the mystic restraints, explaining he was well aware of
Mordo's treachery, but preferred to keep Mordo close in order to control and
possibly change him. Strange studied magic under the Ancient One for seven years
and returning to the
United States in the 1970s.
Silver Age Strange
Based in his "sanctum santorum" mansion in
Greenwich Village neighborhood, Strange used his new abilities to fight such
mystic enemies as recurring nemesis Mordo; the flame-headed otherdimensional
with whom he clashed often; and Strange's first recorded foe upon returning to
Nightmare. He encountered such cosmic beings as the
Living Tribunal, and the personification of the universe itself,
Eternity, as well as numerous superheroes and even, at one
New Year's celebration, longtime family friend
the author (who allowed his likeness to be used in Doctor Strange Vol.
#180, May 1969). On one journey to Dormammu's realm, Strange met and eventually
fell in love with Clea,
the tyrant's human-appearing niece.
When the demon Asmodeus briefly impersonated him, Strange donned a
superheroic-looking full-face cowl and a "secret identity" as Dr. Stephen
Saunders from Vol. 1, #177 through the final issue, #183 (Feb.-Nov. 1969).
Death of the Ancient One
When the demonic entity
Shuma-Gorath (first mentioned in Marvel Premiere #5, Nov. 1972) tried
to cross into the Earth's dimension from within the mind of the Ancient One (#9,
July 1973), Strange was forced to sacrifice his mentor in order to save
humanity's collective soul (#10, Sept. 1973). After his mentor's death in
which the Ancient One became "one with the universe" and a lingering presence
Strange inherited the mantle and power of Sorcerer Supreme of
After taking his lover Clea as his disciple (Marvel Premiere #12, Nov.
1973), one of his first tasks as Sorcerer Supreme was to confront Death. After
proving himself worthy, Strange was granted the immortality befitting his new
role. (As Sorcerer Supreme, he is near ageless and immune to dying from natural
causes. His predecessor, the Ancient One, had lived for over five centuries.)
Defenders and Nighstalkers
Also during this time Doctor Strange gathered the
Namor the Sub-Mariner and the
Silver Surfer to form the sporadically summoned superhero "non-team", the
In a 1982-83 arc (Doctor Strange Vol. 2, #56-62), Strange successfully
invoked the "Montesi Formula" that eliminated all
the Marvel Universe. Though this was considered permanent at the time, Strange
in the early 1990s found it necessary to organize, in Defenders fashion, a group
vampire hunters dubbed the
Blade and vampiric private detective
Hannibal King. The three were told they were formed to fend off
supernatural threats, and only later learned it in fact to prepare for the
weakening of the Montesi Formula and the expected return of
the time vampires indeed came back, throughout various Marvel occult comics in
the mid-1990s, Strange had been temporarily usurped as Sorcerer Supreme by the
His position restored shortly afterward, Strange, by the mid-2000s, then
served chiefly as a supporting character to whom Marvel superheroes might turn
for matters concerning magic and the supernatural. Other times, he directly
intervenes in crises. In one instance,
S.H.I.E.L.D. psionic personnel were hunting the
Wraiths with help of
Rom the Spaceknight, and were being killed by the enemy's wizards. Strange
appeared of his own accord to give the psionic personnel improved resistance to
Powers and abilities
Dr. Strange is the Sorcerer Supreme of
Earth; he has
unparalleled mastery of the mystic arts, which he uses to defend his reality
from otherworldly threats; his primary magical patrons are a group of entities
known as "the Vishanti." The Vishanti are a trinity of godly beings comprised of
Hoggoth, and Oshtur. Although he has, on rare occasions, called upon the power
of the demon Dormammu,
he no longer does so. He holds an M.D. in neurosurgery, although his ability to
perform such delicate tasks has been compromised due to his accident. Stephen is
also an accomplished martial artist.
Dr. Strange's powers are all magical and take several forms. Several main
- Personal abilities. As a result of his mystic training, Stephen is capable
of a great many abilities such as astral projection, telepathy, hypnotism etc.
These are put in a separate category because he seems to perform these functions
as a telepath would, not needing to manipulate magic to do it. These abilities
can be amplified by mystic energy (as against
and/or the Eye of Agamotto (done countless times) to afford Stephen incredibly
powerful psychic abilities.
- Universal sources. By manipulating the ambient mystical energy of the
universe, Dr. Strange can perform a great many functions. Commonly this is seen
as mystic bolts, transmutation, telekinesis, standard shields, etc. He can also
use this mystical energy to cast spells of a near infinite variety. These spells
seem to be quicker to perform but lesser in power than spells using divine
The canon suggests that virtually every human is capable of learning and
harnessing magic considered simply a form of energy in the Marvel universe
through training; however each person has a different potential. The Ancient One
saw in Stephen an incredible potential, quite likely the greatest on Earth.
- Divine sources. Dr. Strange can channel energy from countless mystical
beings in countless dimensions to empower his spells. This can take the form of
standard spells ("Crimson Bands of Cytorrak") or just stating what he wants to
occur and channelling some being to make it happen. It is unknown at this time
what debt, if any, he incurs by invoking the powers that be. There is no quid
pro quo, though some entities will feel he is obliged to heed their call
when they need help in their conflicts as did the Vishanti.
- By sheer force of will "take" the power of another entity. This does not
require the use of a spell. He used this ability against Arioch and Shuma-Gorath
during the Strange Tales Volume 2 run. The fact that Stephen can do this is a
testament to his incredible will-power and strength of mind. This is considered
black magic and as such he rarely employs this. Also when taking the powers of
celestial entities he absorbs the mind and assumes their duties and roles in the
dimension in which they exist. If his will falters, he can lose all sense of
Strange's own power is often amplified by the numerous magical artefacts that
are in his possession or by artefacts that he uses in the course of his
adventures. The two artefacts he carries with him at all times are the Eye of
Agamotto and the Cloak of Levitation.
- The Eye of Agamotto is a powerful and valued artefact that has many
functions. Using the Eye, Strange can see through any lie, deception or
illusion, and free others from their own illusions. It is often used to amplify
his mind's eye, giving psychic abilities that rival the most powerful of
telepaths. It is also often used to play back an area's past events and open
dimensional portals. Evil can hardly withstand its light and it is often used as
a weapon of last resort.
- The Cloak of Levitation allows him to fly without using any magic. It
responds to his thoughts as if it were part of him. Dr. Strange has used it many
times as a "third set of hands" to attack a foe when his own body has been
incapacitated. The cloak is nearly indestructible. It often escapes damage
during even the most violent confrontations.
Other artifacts include the Amulet of Agamotto, which functions much like the
Eye, the Orb of Agamotto, which he uses daily to monitor the surrounding
dimensions for trouble, the Wand of Watoomb, which amplifies his power, and the
Book of Vishanti, which contains some of the multiverse's most powerful and
secret spells and counter spells. There are countless other artifacts that he
owns that can be brought out in times of need.
Note that some other (non-human) sorcerers, such as Dr. Strange's former
have an additional source of power. Clea naturally generates mystical energy,
which she can then use (or, it is assumed, 'lend' to supplicants calling on
her). When the Vishanti asked him to fight as a soldier in the War of the Seven
Spheres, and refused to allow him to call upon them when he declined, Dr.
Strange briefly tapped into this type of energy by immersing himself within the
Earth's mystical Gaian aura. However, this energy source was exhausted in his
service to the Vishanti during his service in their five thousand year war. His
refusal prior to the deal resulted in the Vishanti abandoning him in his role as
the Sorcerer Supreme. After doing without the Vishanti's help in protecting
Earth, he finally acceded to their demands that he fight for them, but only if
they promised to return him to the place in time when he entered their service,
and not 5000 years hence at the conclusion of the battle.
For a brief period, research from the Vishanti library led Dr. Strange to tap
into catastrophe magic by invoking a
syzygy of all
the planets, but this source of magic was limited and he ceased using it
specifically as a source of his power.
The mansion where Dr. Strange lives, his Sanctum Sanctorum, is located at
177A Bleecker Street,
New York, which was the actual address of the apartment building in which
the writer of the series lived at the time the story was published. The mansion
is almost a magical entity unto itself now that Dr. Strange has imbued it with
all sorts of spells mostly protective, but some can be pro-active. It has been
used as a way to attack Dr. Strange several times, by Umar most notably.
Doctor Strange's magic has shown the ability to effect even the most powerful
of entities, leading many to believe Dr. Strange is Marvel's most powerful
Co-creator and longtime original scripter Stan Lee wrote many
alliterative exclamations and incantations that Dr. Strange would utter. Lee
and later writers often created characters and storylines based on these
casually created phrases.
This list is
incomplete; you can help by
- "By the Flames of the Faltine!"
- "By the Sons of Satannish!"
- "By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!"
- "By the Ruby Rings of Raggador!"
- "By the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak!"
- "By the Vapors of the Vishanti!"
deus ex machina
There have been many arguments that Dr. Strange is simply a plot-device.
"...you can place Dr. Strange in peril but it never really seems like much
because at any moment he can cast a spell of crimson bands of what have you and
he's out. There are no rules to his universe and from a storytelling perspective
that's problematic. When you look at imaginary situations, worlds like the world
of Toy Story or even Roger Rabbit have rules of their universe clearly define.
Heck in Roger Rabbit it's very clear how to kill a toon, so the viewer gets the
feeling that the characters can be placed in peril and have their backs placed
against the wall. This is exactly what I'm looking for in regards to our magic
characters. Rules that govern them. How do you kill Doctor Strange? How do you
In the Marvel canon, there are no clearly defined limits of what Dr. Strange
can or cannot do. The stories themselves contradict one another. Dr. Strange is
shown easily altering memories in one story, then stating that his magic cannot
do so in another. In some appearances he can stand against something as powerful
Infinity Gauntlet, and in others he appears defensless against simple
physical attack by another person.
Mordo A dark sorcerer and frequent threat. He had a change of heart prior
to dying, but then reverted to his antagonism.
A fallen Faltian being. When outcast, he chose to take a form of pure mystical
energy to maintain most of his Faltian essence. He took over the Dark Dimension
from the Mindless Ones and consistently tries to expand into other dimensions
through conquest. Dormammu is a being of immense power and one of Strange's most
Umar A fallen Faltian being. Sister of Dormammu, she choose to take a
lesser and more conventionally human physical form in order to experiment with
physical pleasures. She is the mother of Clea.
Nightmare Ruler of the dream dimension, father of Dreamqueen and
inspiration for Gaiman's
Though he is a threat to Strange and to humanity, his existence is necessary,
since without Nightmare humanity would go insane.
- Shuma-Gorath A vastly powerful extradimensional being of chaos magic, and
the ruler of thousands of realms. It ruled the Earth ages ago. Unable to be
destroyed, its essence is taken on by its supplanter. Shuma-Gorath crossing over
into our dimension would be disastrous, and Dr. Strange has been willing to make
the ultimate sacrifice to stop it.
Death Personification of Death in Earth's dimension. It was in Dr.
Strange's fight against Death that he proved himself worthy to be Sorcerer
Supreme. Death has claimed that when Stephen finally falls in his duty she will
take him; however, it is more likely he will become one with Eternity, as have
the Sorcerer Supremes before him.
Satannish One of the demon rulers of the dead. Strange's duties have
occasionally led to confict with this being.
Mephisto One of the demon rulers of the dead, originally introduced as a
Silver Surfer foe, but who has since become a major entity in story arcs
here and in
Rider and other Marvel series. Strange's duties have occasionally led to
confict with this being.
Major supporting characters and allies
Doctor Strange as supporting character
Dr. Strange is often used as the all-in-one solution to the many
world-altering events that occur in other character's comic books. Prominent
Uncanny X-Men #188-191, the ancient wizard
magically transformed NYC into an approximation of his own ancient time.
Everyone in the city, save for Strange and a handful of others, forgot who they
were and assumed roles appropriate to such a reality. The spell was broken and
proper reality was restored by Dr. Strange and
- In Micronauts #35 Dr. Strange was instrumental in helping The Micronauts
defeat ancient demons from Earth's past. As he kept the Demons at bay Commander
Arcturus Rann rushed the Keys to the Enigma Force to the tomb of Prince
Wayfinder...the creator of the Microverse. After opening the Tomb, Strange and
Rann encountered the Sword in the Star who merged them into a single entity,
Captain Universe in order to save the rapidly deteriorating Space Wall
between Earth and The Microverse.
Infinity Gauntlet, Dr. Strange recruited the heroes to stop
Thanos, was one
of the few heroes to survive Thanos' decimation of his opposition, and was
responsible for rescuing the few survivors in the final battle against Thanos
Nebula. Strange was one of the few people to remember that these events had
Guardians of the Galaxy #30-33 Dr. Strange brought Vance Astro back to the
26th Century where Charlie-27 was about to be murdered by a Badoon Captain
Universe named L'Matto. After a long standing battle which was appearing to be
in L'Matto's favor suddenly took a 180 degree turn when Aleta became the New
Starhawk and with Dr. Strange's help, defeated The Captain Universe empowered
L'Matto and then exorcised The Uni-Power from L'Matto's body and returned to the
20th Century with it where they parted ways with Strange going back to his
studies and The Uni-Power heading off to find a new host.
- In House of M, Dr. Strange and
Scarlet Witch from imposing her will on the entire mutant world. Driven
insane by her powers, the Witch turned almost all mutants into ordinary humans.
Only a few who were shielded by Dr. Strange's spell and Frost's psychic powers
were protected and retained their abilities.
Doctor Strange in other continuities
- In the
1602 miniseries, Sir Stephen Strange, the court magician of
Queen Elizabeth I, senses that there are unnatural forces at work.
Marvel 2099, the Sorcerer Supreme of earth is a young woman who calls
herself "Strange". She secretly shares her body with a monstrous demon.
- In the
Ultimate Marvel Universe, Dr. Strange is Doctor Stephen Strange, Jr..
His father is Doctor Stephen Strange, Sr. According to Clea, Strange Sr.'s
former student and ex-wife, the elder Strange mysteriously vanished (he suddenly
"wasn't there anymore") twenty years ago. Clea tried to raise her son away from
magic (and still refuses to discuss it any detail with her son), but ultimately
Stephen, Jr., discovered his father's secrets. He currently studies with the
Ultimate version of Wong and supports himself as a
new age guru who helps the
elite and powerful find their own personal salvation. He has had several run-ins
In each case, Ultimate Dr. Strange has bemoaned his lack of knowledge in things
mystical and usually only barely saves the day with a last desperate, untried
Appearances in other media
- Dr. Strange and the Fantastic Four are mentioned in the song "Superbird"
on the album "Electric
Music for the Mind and Body", by
Country Joe and the Fish (Vanguard VSD 79244; released January 1967).
Strange is also mentioned in
song "Cymbaline" on the album
More (released July 27, 1968), and in
T. Rex song
"Mambo Sun" on the album
Electric Warrior (released September 1971).
- Dr. Strange appears on the cover of Pink Floyd's album
A Saucerful of Secrets (released June 29, 1968), and on the covers of
Stewart albums Past Present and Future (levitating into a dimensional
portal) and Modern Times.
- Allusions to Dr. Strange appear in
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968). Wolfe himself made a cameo
appearance in Dr. Strange Vol. 1, #180 (May 1969).
- Doctor Strange (1978), a
pilot for a possible
television series, aired on the
CBS network. Peter
Hooten played the title role.
- Dr. Strange appeared in a 1996 episode of the
Spider-Man: The Animated Series and in the sixth episode of
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, "7 Little Superheroes".
Venture Brothers character Dr. Orpheus is an obvious spoof of Dr. Strange.
Jean-Luc Godard's film
Sympathy for the Devil (1968), the camera pans across a Dr. Strange
comic in the leftist bookstore.
- In the movie
Spider-Man 2, a Daily Bugle employee suggests "Dr. Strange" as a
potential nickname for the main villain, who later becomes
Octopus. J. Jonah Jameson temporarily considers the name before remembering
that "It's taken".
Previous Doctor Strange
Only two months before the debut of the sorcerer-hero Doctor Strange, Stan
Lee (editor and story-plotter),
Robert Bernstein (scripter, under the
"R. Berns") and
Don Heck (artist) introduced a criminal scientist and
Ph.D. with the
In their story "The Stronghold of Dr. Strange", in
Tales of Suspense #41 (May 1963), he was one of
antagonists. After gaining mental powers in a freak
strike, this Dr. Strange established a
field-protected island base staffed with corrupt scientists and
mercenaries. He attempted world domination, but was thwarted by Iron Man and
by Strange's own estranged daughter, Carla.
Silver Age story was reprinted in Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #4
(Aug. 1966) and the hardcover collection Marvel Masterworks: Iron Man from
Tales of Suspense Nos. 39-50.
Note: The series' subtitles and the varying use of "Doctor" and "Dr.", is per
both each series' indicia and their varying cover logos.
Series and miniseries
- Strange Tales #110-111 & 114-168 (July-Aug. 1963 & Nov. 1963 - May
- Doctor Strange Vol. 1, #169-183 (June 1968 - Nov. 1969)
- Doctor Strange a.k.a. Doctor Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts
#169-175; Dr. Strange #176-181; and Dr. Strange: Master of Black Magic
- Marvel Premiere #3-14 (July 1973 - March 1974)
- Doctor Strange Vol. 2, #1-81 (June 1974 - Feb. 1987)
- Dr. Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts #1; Doctor Strange: Master
of the Mystic Arts #2-50; and Doctor Strange #51-81 (Note: #30, 34,
36-37, 40, 42-46, 48 missing subtitle
- Dr. Strange Annual #1 (1976)
- Doctor Strange Classics #1-4 (March-June 1984; reprints only)
- Strange Tales Vol. 2, #1-19 (April 1987 - Oct. 1988)
- Doctor Strange Vol. 3, #1-90 (Nov. 1988 - June 1996)
- Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #1-4, and Dr. Strange: Sorcerer
Supreme #5-90 (Note: Following issue #4, subtitle appears only sporadically)
- Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme Annual #2-3 & Doctor Strange:
Sorcerer Supreme Annual #4 (1992-1994)
- Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme Special (1992)
- Doctor Strange: The Flight of Bones #1-4 (Feb.- May 1999)
- Witches #1-4 (Aug.-Nov. 2004)
- Strange #1-6 (Nov. 2004 - July 2005)
- X-Statix Presents Deadgirl #1- (Dec. 2005 - )
One-shots and graphic novels
- Giant-Size Dr. Strange #1 (1975; reprints only)
- Marvel Graphic Novel #23: Dr. Strange: Into Shambhala (1986 graphic
- Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment (1989 graphic
- Doctor Strange & Ghost Rider Special #1 (April 1991; reprints only)
- Spider-Man / Dr. Strange: The Way To Dusty Death (no number; 1992)
- Dr. Strange vs. Dracula #1 (March 1994; reprints only)
- Dr. Strange: What is It that Disturbs You, Stephen? (no number; Oct.
- Doctor Strange Special Edition #1 a.k.a. Dr. Strange/Silver Dagger
Special Edition #1 (March 1983)