We are under a month away before Benedict Cumberbatch makes his Marvel movie debut as Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Stephen Strange. While Doctor Strange made his first appearance back in 1963 in Strange Tales Issue 110, he is a relatively new character to the mainstream.
We've probably all heard the name Doctor Strange and that it involves magic, a cape, and an awesome mustache. But these are all things that are easy to remember. What about his origin? How did he become Sorcerer Supreme and what does that title even mean? What's his personality like? Does he need his magical items to perform his mystical feats? Even as a big comic book fan I didn't have the answer for some of these questions.
Luckily, I came across Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo's run on Doctor Strange and I now have a new respect and admiration for the character. It is a great series that makes it easy for anybody who wants to know about Doctor Strange to jump right in and be prepared for his upcoming movie in November.
Who Is Doctor Strange?
We all want to know the origin of the character we are reading. But a lot of them have been around so long that telling the story over and over gets pretty tiring for the people who know of them. Jason Aaron had an easy solution; do the complete origin of Strange in the first page of the book and let it lead right into the hero doing battle. In one page we learn that Doctor Strange is in fact a real medical doctor and was once a talented but arrogant surgeon who got into a car accident that ruined his hands. That accident then lead him to the Himalayas where he would not fix his hands, but he would learn the mystic arts that he uses today. Jason Aaron not only explained his origin in one page, but also what his every day life is like in one issue.
Once we get past the origin on page one, we see Strange battling beings from another dimension called soul eaters that latched on to a young boy — a service he does for free. But as Strange is doing battle with them, he believes that a female of their species is hitting on him. What does he do? He casts a spell of "Romantic Divination" to confirm that she was into him.
Of course, once he finds this out they proceed to make out. Later, Strange meets with his group of mystics in a bar that only strong magicians can get into and he tells the tale of how he saved a young boy and made out with a soul eater. One them — Wanda Maximoff — calls him a dog. So within the first five pages we learn that Stephen Strange is a man of integrity, a man who saves children's souls for free, and also that he is also quite the ladies man and, yes, a pig.
What It Takes To Be The Sorcerer Supreme
If saving a young boy from having his soul eaten isn't enough, there are also the people he protects just as he is walking down the street. That isn't a hyperbole. The work of the Sorcerer Supreme is never done. Stephen Strange sees things that the regular every day human cannot. When he walks down the street he sees beings that latch onto people that both help and hurt us. Because of Strange's duties as Sorcerer Supreme, he can't just walk past them. He has to act. And so he does and without so much as requesting a thank you for what he has just done.
What Jason Aaron did was show all the little things he does that aren't Avengers of Defenders kind of jobs. Not everything in the world is a mission that is going to lead to the end of the world or a job that is going to get him fame and fortune. Aaron shows Strange's work is never done. Every minute of the day and around every corner there is a being trying to take over the world or eat the world or whatever inter-dimensional beings do. From being on call 24/7 and having your friends call you a dog because you can't keep a relationship, Aaron explains the toll that being Sorcerer Supreme takes on a man masterfully.
Like everything else in the world, magic comes with a price. Whenever Strange casts a spell, he loses a piece of himself. Not just in the physical sense, but spiritually as well. Doctor Strange has used the magic so much that he can no longer eat normal food. For example, he mentions that pizza turns to ash in his mouth. Strange says, "Imagine living in New York, smelling pizza, and not being able to taste it." He eats things so disgusting that they wouldn't even put on Fear Factor. One of the things had eyes and tentacles. That description alone should be enough to make any reader feel for Strange and the sacrifices he makes to keep the world safe.
Jason Aaron went in and is not only telling a great story, but he is also getting into the basics of being the Sorcerer Supreme and complexities that make Stephen Strange not only a great comic book character, but also a character that should play extremely well with the movie audience.
What's something you're looking forward to seeing in the Doctor Strange movie? Let me know in the comments below.