By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth! Quite some time ago, Benedict Cumberbatch was announced as the lead for Marvel's Dr. Strange. Then a couple days back, the very first trailer dropped. Ever since then, Cumberbatch and Dr. Strange fans have been in a constant state of giddiness because, as far as anyone can tell, Cumberbatch nailed it.
But who is Dr. Strange exactly? While comic book fans totally know who Strange is; the good doctor has gotten involved with almost all of Marvel heroes because his power set allows him to be Marvel's own little deus ex machina, casual fans might not have any idea.
Real name: Dr. Stephen Strange
Height: 6'2 1/2
Weight: 180 lbs
Aliases: Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, Master of the Mystic Arts, Master of Black Magic, Black Priest
Group affiliations: Avengers, Defenders, the Order, Midnight Sons, Illuminati
First appearance: Strange Tales #110 (1963)
Known allies: Spider-Man, Daredevil, Avengers (so pretty much everyone), Hulk, Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider, Iron Fist, The Ancient One, Namor, Nighthawk
Wingardium leviosa, bitch? BY THE VAPORS OF VALTORR!
Origins: Dr. Stephen Strange was a very gifted neurosurgeon. He was as arrogant as he was talented. He was on top of the world at the height of his career until one day, he met an accident that destroyed his hands. He could still use them, but he was incapable of the precision required of a neurosurgeon.
Oh how tables have turned, you snooty bastard!
He was ruined. Dr. Stephen Strange tore through all his resources finding a solution for his hands. In desperation, he embarked on a journey through Tibet after hearing that a mystic who lives in the mountains can work miracles.
There, The Ancient One found Dr. Stephen Strange to be worthy of their secrets after proving himself by thwarting a fellow student's attempt at The Ancient One's life (and since this is comics, we find out eventually that this was the Ancient One's test all along). After his tutelage under The Ancient One, Dr. Strange became this realm's Sorcerer Supreme.
Powers: It's actually pretty hard to accurately describe what Dr. Strange's powers are. He's pretty much the Marvel Universe's walking plot device. When something needs to be explained away - enter Dr. Strange. If something needs to be solved without compromising another character, here comes Dr. Strange to magic everything away.
But just for clarity, according to Marvel.com, his powers are:
Doctor Strange is one of the most powerful sorcerers in existence. Like most sorcerers, he draws his power from three primary sources: the invocation of powerful mystic entities or objects, the manipulation of the universe's ambient magical energy, and his own psychic resources. Strange's magical repertoire includes energy projection and manipulation, matter transformation, animation of inanimate objects, teleportation, illusion-casting, mesmerism, thought projection, astral projection, dimensional travel, time travel and mental possession, to name a few. The full range of his abilities is unknown. Doctor Strange's powers are sometimes less effective against strictly science-based opponents, although he can overcome this limitation with effort.
So, I guess, in a word - magic.
It's magic. I ain't got to explain shit.
Essential Reading: Before diving into the film, here are a few of my favorite stories featuring Dr. Strange that you should really check out.
Creative team: Brian K. Vaughn, Marcos Martin, Alvaro Lopez, Javier Rodriguez
Synopsis: Are you familiar with the Hippocratic Oath? In today's terms, it's essentially the oath doctors take to abide by ethical standards and to do everything they can to save their patients. In this story, Dr. Strange has to balance his oath taken as a physician and as the Sorcerer Supreme. It's fantastic read, especially since it's pretty much an isolated Dr. Strange story.
Creative team: Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven
Synopsis: The main thing that I love about the Illuminati is that the they've pretty much shaped the way the Marvel Universe works up to this day - their impact is still very much felt. The brightest minds came together because they believe that they're the only ones who are capable of deciding what is best for humanity. Because of this group, a lot of great stories had legs on which to stand. You should read Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, too, while you're at it.
Dr. Strange and Doctor Doom Triumph and Torment
Creative team: Roger Stern, Mike Mignolia, Mark Badger
Synopsis: Dr. Doom and Dr. Strange travel to hell to rescue Dr. Doom's mother. It's a fantastic adventure, showcasing both Dr. Strange and Dr. Doom's relationship, as well as the deepest and seediest parts of Marvel's hell.
Dr. Strange Season One
Creative team: Greg Pak, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire
Synopsis: Marvel's Season One series is a retelling of origins. It's great if you want to read a modern Dr. Strange origin.
The Eternity Saga
Creative team: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Synopsis: Imagine, if you will, the physical embodiment of Eternity, and how well he would fit into the world of Dr. Strange. Even though this arc was written in the 60's, it pretty much reads the way a modern epic would - it was 16 issues long back when a story would last half a comic book! It has everything you would expect from a Dr. Strange tale - mysticism, intrigue, magics, insurmountable odds, and fantastic characterization!
Apart from those titles, you should really check out some more recent Dr. Strange stuff - his role in New Avengers just blows me away. I've always felt Dr. Strange is at his best when he's interacting with other characters in the Marvel Universe.
What's your favorite Dr. Strange story? Leave a comment and tell us all about it!