Wicked 10: Strange Variants

Wicked 10: Strange Variants

BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME

IG@matt.tuck.writer

FB@The Comic Blog

When you’re the Master of the Mystic Arts, you go through some weird times in your life. From the blue Doctor Strange of Counter-Earth to the time he was a werewolf, let’s explore the many phases of the Sorcerer Supreme.

With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness only days away from its premiere, the film promises to give us at least two Doctor Strange variants. Comic fans know there are way more than that. In fact, how about we explore ten right now?

WEREWOLF DOCTOR STRANGE

FIRST APPEARANCE: MARVEL TEAM-UP #80

When it comes to Doctor Strange, there have been lots of odd pairings and imaginings. The comic creators clearly have had fun putting unique twists on his character, and this may be the weirdest. Whether or not it was a good idea is another debate entirely. 

It only happened for one issue, but there was a time when Stephen Strange became a werewolf. Of course, this was in the Bronze Age when Marvel incorporated all the classic monsters into their ranks. At the time, the Comics Code Authority, the governing body that had been censoring anything even remotely scary and/or sexy out of comics since 1954, had loosened its grip on publishers. The CCA began to allow characters who had been published in literary works. This opened the door for Stan Lee and the gang to use Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, mummies, zombies, and werewolves. Boy, did Stan like werewolves. There was Werewolf By Night, Man-Wolf, and a werewolf Doctor Strange.

Longtime readers won’t be surprised this occurred in an issue of Marvel Team-Up. Around this time, the Marvel editors paired established characters with those who could use a bump in popularity. Most of the time, that meant putting Spider-Man with some of the most unlikely allies. Instead of having Spidey and Doctor Strange solve another mystery together, they were pitted against each other. To keep either being viewed as an outright villain, the editors went with a werewolf story. It began when Peter Parker and his date were attacked by the oddly dressed creature. Peter managed to fight him off, and afterwards he spotted what appeared to be the Eye of Agamotto. There’s only one guy who sported that piece of jewelry: Stephen Strange.

Following a little Scooby-Doo mystery solving, it turned out, an evil sorceress had taken a piece of Strange’s soul in an earlier conflict. She used it to curse the Sorcerer Supreme and transform him into a werewolf. Spider-Man, Clea, Wong, and Satana worked together and helped Strange, and the adventure as a werewolf was quickly forgotten.

Since this is Marvel Studios, a production company obsessed with the campy stories from the Silver and Bronze Ages, Kevin Feige could find a way to squeeze Were-Strange into a movie or cartoon. Werewolf By Night will star in the Halloween Special, and this could be the moment Doctor Strange transforms into a dog just for laughs.

DOCTOR STRANGE 2099

FIRST APPEARANCE: SPIDER-MAN 2099 #35

At this point, the 2099 Universe is a mirror of Earth-616. Practically every Marvel superhero has a futuristic doppelganger on Earth-928. Fittingly, we find the 2099 Strange first appearing the pages of Spider-Man 2099 #35. 

Who is the Strange of 2099? She’s not actually a “Strange.” Jeannie adopted the name, and she began performing magic. Later, she would cross paths with the Sorcerer Supreme when Doctor Strange journeyed across time and space, as he is prone to doing. He sent her to Halo City, where should discovered the X-Men’s Exodus had killed one of her friends. From there, she partnered with the 2099 X-Men, X-Nation, and eventually landed in the Savage Land.

With so many 2099 versions of marvel’s mainstays, not everyone can be in the spotlight, and Strange 2099 is mostly overlooked. With the continued allusions and direct references to the world of Earth-928, there’s always a chance we could see her. Spider-Man 2099 is ready to make his star turn in Across the Spider-Verse Part One, and Loki left a 2099 Easter egg in the form of a case file. One way or another, the 2099 characters are coming to the mainstream, and Strange 2099 will almost certainly be along for the ride.

THE NECROMANCER

FIRST APPEARANCE: DOCTOR STRANGE #11

The Necromancer seemed to just appear and then disappear, and hardly anyone makes mention of that odd time. It’s so odd that I would wager we’ll get an Easter egg in Multiverse of Madness. I am talking about the Necromancer, and he was the Stephen Strange of Counter-Earth. Although he wasn’t named until 1992’s Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #46, he appeared on the cover of 1974’s Doctor Strange #11.

Technically, this version of Doctor Strange was created by the High Evolutionary. Actually, Counter-Earth itself was created by High Evolutionary, and it was meant to be near identical to Earth-616. Of course, it didn’t turn out as planned, and this version of Earth had no superheroes. They did have a Sorcerer Supreme sporting a blue mask who shared the same history as Earth-616’s Stephen Strange. The difference was that on Counter-Earth, this Doctor Strange killed Baron Mordo after the villain had murdered the Ancient One. That caused his life to follow a new, darker path, leading to this world’s Doctor Strange becoming an outright villain.

At one point, the Counter-Earth Strange wanted to conquer the Earth-616 by using the Book of the Vishanti, and this does sound vaguely familiar to What If…?’s “Strange Supreme” episode. Eventually, the main Strange defeated the Necromancer by tricking him into using so much of his magical power that the Necromancer exploded. 

With multiple Doctor Stranges appearing in Multiverse of Madness, we could see a version of Counter-Earth appear in the movie. Since there is an evil version of Strange in the film, it has led to theories that he will be revealed as the Counter-Earth Sorcerer Supreme.

ZOMBIE STRANGE

FIRST APPEARANCE: ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #22

The Doctor Strange of Earth-2149 has been under the microscope as of late. While nothing has been confirmed, the MOM trailers have featured what appears to be Strange as a zombie. Of course, anytime zombies are mentioned in the MCU, everyone points toward Marvel Zombies. They already appeared in a What If…? episode, and the zombies are getting their own cartoon in the near future. However, MOM could be their live-action debut. Now that Captain Carter has been confirmed by the latest trailer, it stands to reason that MOM will fully connect the animated Multiverse of What If…? to the larger MCU, and that would usher the Marvel Zombies into live action.

The Doctor Strange of Earth-2149 is a cog in the greater wheel of the Marvel Zombies universe. Like the rest of the Marvel heroes, this Doctor Strange’s history mirrored that from Earth-616. Then came the zombie plague, and Strange was quickly recruited for Nick Fury’s squad. When the team was sent to the frontlines against the zombies, they were infected. These zombies retained their memories, powers, and most intellectual properties, so Zombie Strange could still perform a limited number of spells. Eat that, Walking Dead

The thing to remember about the grotesque Strange we have seen in the MOM trailer is that this may not be Zombie Strange. There are plenty of hints and nods toward one of the doctor’s first villains, Nightmare, being the antagonist in the movie. Considering Nightmare’s power is to concoct apparitions and visions, this may not be real. It also could exist in Nightmare’s dimension, which was referenced in Loki. Then again, since Captain Carter has appeared in the trailer, Marvel may be connecting all its animated content to the MCU via MOM. In either case, it will be fascinating to see where it leads.

SHERIFF STRANGE

FIRST APPEARANCE: SECRET WARS #2

The 2015 Secret Wars event from Jonathan Hickman took heavy inspiration from Game of Thrones. After the Multiverse had come unraveled, Reed Richards and Doctor Doom confronted a group of Multiversal Beyonders. With the Beyonders dead, Doom assumed their power and created Battleworld from the remains of the crumbling universes. Clad in white, God-Emperor Doom molded this new world to his whims. A group of different Thors served as his police force and army, while different heroes and villains commanded the territories.

In Game of Thrones, the king’s top advisor is known as the Hand of the King. In Battleworld, this was a combination of the Hand of the King and the Sheriff of Nottingham. The god-emperor formed this alternate Doctor Strange to his ideals, giving him the title of Sheriff and the Right Hand of Doom. Strange then enforced Doom’s will, doling out punishments for violating Doom’s laws. In one of the more interesting moments, Sheriff Strange sentences Captain Britain to be thrown over the wall that separates Doom’s kingdom from the hordes of zombies, symbiotes, and Utron’s drones.

There has been talk of Marvel Studios adapting Secret Wars for the big screen. Last year, Jim Shooter was answering questions at Megacon Orlando when he told a story on that topic. The gist of it was that someone from Marvel reached out to him about SW, which Shooter created in 1984, and he asked if Secret Wars was getting a movie. You can watch the full segment here.

If we see a Secret Wars adaptation, it will likely be based more on 2015’s version than the original. That could mean Sheriff Strange gets an MCU variant.

SIR STEPHEN STRANGE 1602

FIRST APPEARANCE: MARVEL 1602 #1

Penned by superstar writer Neil Gaiman, the world of Earth-311 was set in, you guessed it, 1602. It was an age that Marvel had not explored, being that they normally stayed with futuristic stories rather than those set in the past. This gave Gaiman and famed artist Andy Kubert a chance to reimagine all the main superheroes, including the Sorcerer Supreme. 

This Strange, however, was not the Sorcerer Supreme. With events unfolding during the Elizabethan era, he served as Queen Elizabeth I’s personal physician. More importantly, this version of Stephen Strange discovered that their universe was crumbling. The trouble was that after Elizabeth’s death, King James VI blamed the world events on all those with superpowers and magic, essentially labeling them as witches. 

Doctor Strange was eventually taken to the moon by the Watcher, who gave him a vision of everything he needed to save the Earth. Only, King James had Strange imprisoned and beheaded. Strange’s wife, Clea, took the disembodied head to North America, where she communed with his spirit. With Strange’s knowledge, Clea saved the world, and her husband was at peace.

STRANGE SUPREME/DISCIPLE OF DORMAMMU

FIRST APPEARANCE: WHAT IF…? #18

When we first saw Strange Supreme in Disney+’s What If…?, collectors scrambled to the auction sites for the character’s first appearance. The problem was that there was no exact correlation between a comic and Strange Supreme. The closest we got was What If…? #18 from 1979.

Obviously being a What If comic, this story exists outside the Marvel-616. It’s a hypothetical title, and that means the stories are hypothetical as well. Sometimes we see characters venture outside the pages of What If…?, but the evil Doctor Strange was confined to this single issue. In it, we see what would happen if instead of following the teachings of the Ancient One, Strange had aligned himself with his greatest enemy, Dormammu. 

As events played out in the Marvel-616, gifted surgeon Stephen Strange was forced to learn humility when his hands were permanently damaged in an accident. It proves to be a positive when the injury sets him on a path of redemption and personal growth. In What If…? #18, Baron Mordo uses dark magic to heal Strange’s hands. He later takes Strange under his wing before introducing him to the true master, Dormammu. 

From there, Strange and Mordo battle the likes of the Ancient One, Wong, and Agatha Harkness. Strange later murders Mordo, and learns the evil nature of Dormammu before turning to the side of good.

BLACK PRIEST STRANGE

FIRST APPEARANCE: NEW AVENGERS, VOL. 3, #2

This has been considered one of the most powerful versions of Doctor Strange. With the origin tied to the Illuminati and the Multiverse, there is a chance that we will see these events unfold in Multiverse of Madness. At the least, I would not be surprised to see the Black Priests make an appearance or get a mention in the movie. 

As the story goes, the Black Priests are magical beings from another dimension. They are tasked with preserving the Multiverse, which they see collapsing. In order to do this, the Black Priests destroy various Earths throughout the Multiverse. Meanwhile, the Illuminati, of which Strange is a prominent member, watches from the shadows. The Illuminati eventually confronted the Black Priests in an attempt to stop their destruction.

In a twist of events, Doctor Strange actually joined the Black Priests’ cause. Seeing their efforts as a necessary evil, he mastered their dark magic and led the group. This would put him into conflict with the Avengers. Strange’s time with the Black Priests came to an end when he charged into the Library of Worlds. The library’s defenses wiped out the Black Priests, and Strange was taken prisoner by Doctor Doom.

There is a very good chance this is the evil Doctor Strange we have seen in the MOM trailers. 

With the Illuminati taking Strange prisoner in the upcoming movie, that makes me curious if it is connected to the Black Priests. In the comics, Doom theorized they were like a self-defense mechanism designed to protect the Multiverse. Being that the Illuminati was founded to preserve Earth-616 but monitor the greater threats to the universe, it could be that a Strange from another dimension has aligned himself with the Black Priests. 

During Strange’s time as a Black Priest, he abandoned the Illuminati when they refused to destroy other worlds to keep the Multiverse in balance. This alternate MCU Strange could be a former Illuminati member who followed a similar path by leaving the council and taking control of the Black Priests. That would make supercharged Black Priest Strange a Multiversal threat worthy of the combined efforts of the Illuminati. The Earth-616 Strange could be a variant on the same course as the Black Priest Strange, and the Illuminati takes him prisoner in an effort to avert the Sorcerer Supreme from his current path that will lead to destruction.

ASGARDIAN STRANGE

FIRST APPEARANCE: DOCTOR STRANGE #384

Some would argue this is the most powerful version of Doctor Strange we’ve ever seen. Whenever you give a master of the mystic arts the powers of an Asgardian god, it’s easy to make the case.

This transpired from the events of Donny Cates’ Doctor Strange run in 2018. The first story arc saw Strange lose the title of Sorcerer Supreme to Loki. With the God of Mischief gallivanting as the most powerful wizard in all the Multiverse, Stephen Strange retired from magic and began working as a veterinarian. When his faithful companion, talking-dog Bats, dies because of Loki’s actions, Strange is sent on a quest to dethrone the resident Sorcerer Supreme.

The quest takes him to Asgard, where he looks to gain some magic from Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Sampling from the tree results in Yggdrasil granting Strange the powers of a Norse God. Dressed in white robes and wielding a staff worthy of Gandalf the Gray, Strange battled Loki and won back the title of Sorcerer Supreme, but not before being consumed by the Void.

DOCTOR STRANGEFATE

FIRST APPEARANCE: DC/MARVEL #10

The 1990s were a time of experimentation in the comics community. One of the most talked about is the Marvel/DC mashup, published under the companies’ joint banner, Amalgam Comics. 

As the giants of the industry, it always creates buzz whenever Marvel and DC work together. Since the 1970s, the two have co-authored various titles, allowing fans the chance to see the likes of Superman and Spider-Man or the Avengers and the Justice League interact. The usual formula was to have the characters clash over a misunderstanding, more or less, before joining forces against the true threat. In the 1990s, DC and Marvel changed things up. They let the fans vote on which heroes should win in the all-star showdowns, something that hadn’t been done before.

When the dust settled, the Amalgam team took things a step further. They combined the DC heroes with their Marvel counterparts to create brand-new characters. Fans were treated to Dark Claw, the mashup of Batman and Wolverine, but the most powerful character to emerge from these combinations was Doctor Strangefate.

The protector of the Amalgam Universe, Strangefate is the uninspired name for a meshing of Marvel’s Doctor Strange with his DC predecessor, Doctor Fate, as well as the X-Men’s Professor X. As both a Sorcerer Supreme and Lord of Order, Doctor Strangefate had godlike, reality-warping powers on par with the Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan. Along with the combined magical abilities of Strange and Fate, he also possessed the Omega-level telepathy and telekinesis of Professor X. In fact, Strangefate proclaimed his real name as Charles Xavier.

Strangefate was credited with the creation of the entire Amalgam Universe. Being the god of this world, he also served as its greatest protector, though he operated from the shadows and remained in his tower in a sort of Watcher capacity.

With all the excitement over Scarlet Witch’s abilities in MOM, Strangefate’s powers exceed even those of Wanda Maximoff. Basically, he can do everything she does along with having the skills of Doctor Strange, Doctor Fate, and Charles Xavier. Manhattan and the Beyonder would be the only characters close to his level, and he may be too much for them. That makes Strangefate easily the single most powerful character in all of Marvel and DC combined.

Will we ever see him in the MCU or the DCEU, for that matter? That is highly unlikely. Given the Multiverse and Marvel’s willingness to work with other studios, anything is possible. At some point in the distant future, I believe we will see the ultimate onscreen MCU/DCEU crossover. If and when that happens, Strangefate could be in the mix, but it would still be a remote possibility. That’s not to say we won’t see him reappear in the comics. There hasn’t been any cross-publisher promotions between the behemoths of the industry since Disney bought Marvel Comics, but I imagine they will work together at some point. That’s when we could see Strangefate make a triumphant return.

Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.


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