This week on The Wednesday Club, hosts Matt Key and Amy Dallen were joined by Alan Kistler to talk all things Strange. Stephen Strange, that is.
If you’ve been intrigued by Strange after watching his solo movie outing last year, and you’re ready to learn even more about his mystical world, follow The Wednesday Club hosts as they go even farther down into the rabbit hole of Marvel magic to give you their top comic picks.
With a name like Strange, it’s no surprise that the sorcerer’s origins aren’t quite what you’d expect from a major Marvel character. Dr. Stephen Strange first appeared in Strange Tales #110 in 1963, but you won’t find his name or the character on the cover. “There is no way for you to know that this is the debut of the character that would change Matt Key’s life,” Amy joked.
Doctor Strange’s origin story itself isn’t even told until Strange Tales #115, which echoes the film version but then diverges into a plot by Baron Mordo to assassinate The Ancient One.
Beyond Doctor Strange’s first appearances (which you can find on ComiXology), the hosts discussed a list of Strange picks that will help you dive into the amazing and slightly daunting universe of the Sorcerer Supreme.
The Sorcerer Supreme has to save a very important life in this collection of the five-issue miniseries Doctor Strange: The Oath. This standalone story is a great place to start if you’re not familiar with the considerable lore surrounding Doctor Strange, said Matt.
“It’s a straightforward, very accessible book,” he continued. “You get to see Doctor Strange at his best, you get to meet Wong.
“It essentially tells the story [that] Doctor Strange is shot by a cursed pistol that belonged to Hitler… So he goes to visit Night Nurse. The scene that you get in the movie where he appears to Christine Palmer in his astral form and is telling her ‘I would suggest putting the needle here,’ comes directly from the first issue of The Oath.”
(Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, Marvel Comics)
Stephen Strange with an eye patch and blonde hair? That really happened in this trade paperback that collects Doctor Strange stories from Strange Tales (1987) #1-19. After destroying all of his magical artifacts in the Sanctum Sanctorum out of necessity, including the Eye of Agamotto, Stephen turns to black magic with devastating results.
“[It’s] another great thing about Doctor Strange,” said Alan. “There’s constantly an idea of consequence, which is great for narratives.”
(Peter B. Gillis, Bill Mantlo, Larry Alexander, Richard Case, Dan Lawlis, Terry Shoemaker, and Chris Warner, Marvel Comics)
In this unlikely team-up, Strange and Doom enter Mephisto’s dimension. “It’s a great story,” said Alan. “[Strange] had been using the title of Sorcerer Supreme for a while, because The Ancient One had died and he inherited it, but it’s in Triumph and Torment that he has to go through a test that actually earns him it legitimately. He has to face off against other sorcerers–Doctor Doom being one of them.”
(Roger Stern and Mike Mignola, Marvel Comics)
Doctor Strange’s current adventures in the Marvel multiverse are another fantastic starting place to peek into to his weird world. “If you just want to jump in, it’s fantastic,” said Matt. Starting with an opening scene shown from both a passerby’s point of view and then Doctor Strange’s, Matt found the book compelling from the start.
“Any character [Jason Aaron] goes on, he just turns up the volume, he kicks it into overdrive,” said Alan.
“A sense that nothing is off-limits is very good in a Doctor Strange writer,” agreed Amy.
(Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo, Marvel Comics)
Need even more Strange-ness in your life? Other recommended books included A Separate Reality and Doctor Strange’s involvement in World War Hulk, and, for DC Comics/Vertigo’s take on the mystical arts, check out Neil Gaiman’s The Books of Magic.
Hang out on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel every Wednesday afternoon to catch the next magical episode of The Wednesday Club and chat comics with fellow fans.
What’s your favorite book starring The Sorcerer Supreme? Tell us in the comments.
Images: Geek & Sundry and Marvel Comics