Doctor Strange: Where Do I Start?

In the dark corners of the comic universe, there exists a power older than superpowers and stronger than any mutant’s might; that power is magic. And chief amongst the wielders of magic from Marvel Universe to any other is Dr. Strange. Created in 1963 by the same team that brought Spider-Man into being, Dr. Strange became known as the Sorcerer Supreme of the mystic arts of magic and carved out a niche as the standard-bearer for all-things magic in the Marvel Universe.

But as anyone who’s tried to master the magical arts like myself (and every other kid in the modern world) can tell you, Dr. Strange is a hard soul to pen down. He’s carried his own series only briefly over this 40+ year history, working primary as part of a team like the Avengers or Defenders or with standalone stories or stories in anthologies. But nonetheless, after consulting with iFanboy HQ’s photocopied version of the Book of Vishanti (don’t ask) we have five stories to get you started with Dr. Stephen Strange.

Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange, Vol. 1: Where else to begin but the beginning, with the first stories of the Sorcerer Supreme in Strange Tales. This hardcover compendium collects his two-part origin story as well as twenty-seven issues’ worth of other stories told in the mid 90s by the stunning team of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. These’s stories show Lee’s trademark alliterations at their apex, and Ditko’s art does more than match up for Lee’s words and creates the definitive work of the artist’s career. These stories are also available in the cheaper Essentials format, but Ditko’s art loses a lot by that line’s black-and-white printing.

Marvel Fanfare, Vol. 1:This collection of the iconic 80s anthology titles has just two short Dr. Strange tales, but they’re well worth the cover price. Both stories show Dr. Strange going up against upstarts and usurpers to the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme, showing how he can act on the defensive and strike back. These two stories, by the dream team-up of Chris Claremont, Marshall Rogers & P. Craig Russell will give you new depths to Dr. Strange’s character as well as dreams of what more these creators could do with him.

Doctor Strange: The Oath: The most recent of our five picks this week, this story by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin was critically acclaimed from day one, and with good reason. This story mixes Dr. Strange’s former life as a doctor with his current path as the Sorcerer Supreme as he sets to solve the mystery of his own attempted murder as well as the life of his confidante and friend, Wong.

Doctor Strange: A Separate Reality: Sadly out of print, this volume is still available on the second-hand market and worth the time to track it down. In this story, Dr. Strange faces the death of his mentor the Ancient One and receiving the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. Soon after, he’s on the hunt for a time-traveling warlock who’s traveling back in time in an attempt to absorb all of the magic that ever existed. Writer Steve Englehart and artist Frank Brunner were at the top of the game in this 70s story, and it’s no doubt that when and if a Marvel movie is made of Dr. Strange then this will be one of the stories brought back to life.

Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment: Arguably one of the most overlooked gems in Marvel’s immense library, this story by Roger Stern, Mike Mignola and Mark Badger pits Dr. Strange in the unlikely role of savior as he’s tasked by the Vishanti to assist Dr. Doom in rescuing Doom’s mother from Mephisto. As you can guess, Dr. Doom takes over the book to some extent, but Dr. Strange carves out a place for himself like a surgeon as an ally and adversary to Doom.


  1. I can’t wait until they do one of these for Machine Man.

  2. I really appriciate that the out-of-print stuff is included in this article, since why should it be off our radar just because it isn’t available at the moment?

  3. The only exposure to Doctor Strange I have had is from BKV’s Oath mini-series & let me just say that that is one fine book to get started on Strange. I hope Marvel moves forward with somekind of short film or (fingers crossed) a full length feature film, & let it be directed by Guillermo Del Toro, b/c if anyone can transfer the strange out of Doctor Strange comics onto the big screen, it would be him.

  4. An older Strange run that has been recently reprinted is Into The Dark Dimension Premiere Hardcover collecting Dr. Strange #68-74. Good stuff!

  5. Sorry, it’s not out until June 22. Go Ditko!!!

  6. This is great! Dr. Strange is one of those 2nd tier characters that i’ve always loved, but haven’t been able to find a lot of stuff recently. That Dr. Strange, Dr. Doom thing sounds amazing. 

  7. The Oath was incredible. And a lot of people’s first exposure to Martin.

  8. I want a Ditko Dr. Strange Omnibus!!!

  9. BKV’s Oath was excellent. I really enjoyed the JMS mini too and it’s well worth a look.

  10. @wallythegreenmonster  Triumph and Torment is amazing. It does tilt more toward being a Doom story (as any story with Doom has a tendancy to do) but Strange is great and has some fantastic moments.

  11. I’m with everyone that The Oath is a must read.  It’s strange (excusing the pun) that aren’t any stories about Steve that stand out and known in compare to his marvel allies runs.

  12. As a kid I spent alot of my money/time reading Doctor Strange’s back catalogue, and I think you’ve covered the best of it Chris. Well done. 

    I would add, in terms of out of print material, one of those 1980’s Marvel Graphic Novels called Into Shamballa. It has fantastic water color art and a really long, satisfying story, almost like an illustrated novella. If you’re a big (early) Tony Harris fan, then I would look into Doctor Strange: The Flight of Bones, as his art is really great in there. It’s one of those early Marvel Knights minis they released in the early 2000’s, and follows Strange as a detective, of sorts. If you find random issues in the bargain bin, pick them up, if just for the art. 
    As for newer material, if you’re really enamoured with the whole notion of Doctor Strange stories being pretty much all about 60’s-70’s psychadelia, then I would check out Spider-Man: Fever (don’t worry, it’s a team up book), as it’s pretty much a crazy homage to the psychadelic landscapes Ditko pioneered in the 60’s.    

  13. Also, I think I speak for alot of the iFanbase on this one, but I desperately need one of these guides for the Legion of Super Heroes. If ever a super-hero comic series deserved, and needed, a guide on where and how to get started, it’s the Legion.

  14. @RobotZombie  –yeah Dr. Doom is a favorite as well so thats not the end of the world. Book appears to be out of print which is a bummer. 

  15. I’m digging the really early stuff as well. Essential Doctor Strange volumes 1-3 currently in my collection. Need to find Volume 4

  16. Just finished reading a volume of Madman last night and I was struck by how much I’d LOVE to see Mike Allred do a Dr. Strange mini.  Anyone else think that’d be awesome?

  17. @360Logic: I’d recommend the newly re-released “Great Darkness Saga Deluxe Edition”. Really good for the classic Legion. Also try the “Lightening Saga” crossover between the JSA and JLA written by Johns and Meltzer, and follow that up with John’s “Superman and the Legion of Superheroes” and “Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds.” That should give you a pretty good overview of the LOSH.

  18. Mark Waid wrote a pretty good Dr Strange story with art by Emma Rios called Strange: The Doctor is Out.

  19. Most of the older stuff is on the MDCU, the more recent stuff is spotty

  20. @colossusofrhodeisland: An Allred Doctor Strange has been a dream of mine for years. Make it happen, Strange Tales Vol.III!!!

  21. i read and loved triumph and torment and the oath. but theres a series i cant find from which i have a few issues from called the flight of bones that seemed very interesting. dr.strange has way too much stuff out of print.

  22. I really, really loved The Oath but didn’t like the JMS series at all (glad it’s not on the list).  The Waid series was decent and I’ve got some of the old 70s stuff in Essential format.  He’s a character that can be really interesting, and I did like his appearances in New Avengers.  Sometimes however, you do get the impression that newer writers like the idea of Strange but don’t actually know how to write him a compelling story.

  23. The first 30 issues or so of Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme is some fantastic stuff.  One of the highlights of the late 80’s and early 90’s, with Roy Thomas and Jackson Guice really telling some good stories.

  24. Anybody who loves Dr. Strange would do well to check out the original Defenders series. One of my favorite team books ever, with Strange playing a big role as the closest thing the “non-team” has to a leader.

  25. I have a hard time with Dr. Strange, nothing against the character or the writting, but ever since watching the venture brothers when I read Dr. Strange’s lines in my head he sounds like Dr. Orpheus.