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.