Doctor Stephen Strange, once a talented surgeon, is the greatest sorcerer that this dimension (of the Marvel comics universe) has to offer.
Once upon a time, there was a skilled surgeon named Stephen Strange. And with that skill came great arrogance. And no doubt lots of sex, what with his awesome 70s porn star mustache.
But then-tragedy! A car accident damages his hands, turning him into the surgical equivalent of Uwe Boll. He tries to find a cure, eventually seeking out the help of an old mystic hermit in Tibet (not unlike Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins). The hermit is known as "The Ancient One," because he is over 500 years old. So he should be called "The Really Old One," but let's face it, that doesn't sound as cool. The Ancient One is a master sorcerer with an apprentice, the Baron Karl Amadeus Mordo. Stephen finds out that Mordo is plotting to destroy the Ancient One! He tries to warn the old one of the Baron's plans, but Mordo counters with a restraining spell. Not that it mattered, since the Ancient One knew of the plot all along.
Stephen Strange, with no surgical career to return to, agrees to become the Ancient One's good apprentice, pissing the Baron right off. The two students quickly form a rivalry (not unlike the rivalry between the magicians in The Prestige). In addition to having to deal with attacks from Baron Mordo, Dr. Strange also faces off with many other bad guys, demons, monsters, and telemarketers. One such foe is Nightmare, the demon that lurks the Dream Dimension, attempting to trap people while they sleep. On occasion, Dr. Strange will travel to this dimension to rescue people (not unlike James Cobb did in Inception). Another foe, the flame-headed Dormammu, hails from the Dark Dimension. He rules with his army of mindless ones, constantly attacking Dr. Strange. But it's all good, because Dormammu's niece, Clea, is hot and the Doctor wants to be all in her business with his magic.
A Cracked take on the art of Bret Blevins
And those are just some of the enemies he's made. There are also demon-like characters such as Lilith, Zom, Shuma-Gorath, Set, Satannish, the Dweller-in-Darkness, D'Spayre, and Chthon; and some who are sorcerers in their own right, like Dormammu's sister Umar, Morgan le Fay, Kaluu, Erlik Khan, Yandroth, Urthona, Tazza, and Silver Dagger.
The mystic doctor also has several tools at his disposal:
Dr. Strange resides in his magically fortified home which he calls his Sanctum Sanctorum, because, let's face it, it sounds fucking awesome. His servant Wong (no relation to David of Cracked fame), a descendent of cultic monks from Kamar-Taj, also lives in the Sanctum Sanctorum. On occasion, the doctor is visited by various Marvel superheroes who know where the good parties are.
Marvel superheroes love a practical joke as much as anyone.
Also, in addition to having the beautiful Clea as a student, there was another apprentice in Dr. Strange's tutelage: the minotaur-looking creature named Rintrah. He learned well, eventually earning the doctor's cloak of levitation. But then he died. (Which in Marvel comics means the artist got tired of drawing him, so maybe the character will pop up again some day.)
Not bad for a guy that's over 5000 years old. Five thousand years? That's right: he had to take a 5000-year hiatus to help fight in the War of the Seven Spheres alongside the Vishanti. After that, he returned to Earth's dimension, where (fortunately) only a few months had passed. Who's ancient now, bitch?
In June 1951, Marvel comics began the series "Strange Tales," a series which featured work from artists/authors such as Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby, involving characters like Fin Fang Foom and Nick Fury. The series was the premiere horror/science fiction/superhero anthology for Marvel. But then, in issue #110, Lee and Ditko introduced Doctor Strange, a sorcerer who would eventually become a "Master of the Mystic Arts." The stories are filled with trippy psychedelic art-amazingly predating the Beatles' invention of Eastern Mysticism.
He's about to become a real Nowhere Man.
Starting with issue 114, Doctor Strange became a regular character (although Strange Tales was a split book, meaning that the Doctor had to share space with the likes of the Human Torch and Nick Fury). This continued until issue # 169, when the sorcerer got his own series, named "Dr. Strange," (except the first issue was numbered 169, because that's how magicians roll, baby) running until the final issue, # 183, in November 1969. The series ended, but Dr. Strange teamed up with the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner in The Defenders.
This was not the end for Doctor Strange, however. He was featured in Marvel Premiere # 3 in 1972, and then in June 1974, he started another series: Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts. More psychedelic art and fanciful realms! The title ran every other month for 81 issues, before ending in February 1987. Shortly before that series ended, Dr. Strange also appeared in the Secret Wars II series, in which he fought the Beyonder and sadly got killed. But he got better just in time for a brand new series: Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, beginning in November of 1988. This series ran for 90 issues during the time when Marvel was drunk with crossover fever. The series had multiple crossovers with Ghost Rider, Morbius, the Nightstalkers, Count Chockula cereal, and a highschool Geometry textbook. After such shenangians, the series ended in June of 1996.
This series had better sell, or I'll destroy you Strange!
Since then, the character has appeared in various Marvel titles, such as The New Avengers, The House of M, and Civil War. As of now, Doctor Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme, having relinquished that title to Brother-cum-Doctor Voodoo, a character that first appeared in Strange Tales #169-right where Dr. Strange left off. (Yeah, that made us all pee our pants too.)
Being the hip sorcerer that Dr. Strange is, it's little surprise to see him pop up across the cultural landscape. One of the greatest is the cover of Pink Floyd's Saucerful of Secrets album. Some of the images came from an early issue of Strange Tales.
Scottish musician Al Stewart also made use of the Mystic on two of his albums (Past, Present, and Future, and Modern Times). Paul Roland has a whole song devoted to Dr. Strange on his Gaslight Tales album. Several musicians have mentioned Dr. Strange in passing in their lyrics: Pink Floyd's Cymbaline and T.Rex's Mambo Sun. Since musicians have used Dr. Strange's image and name in their work, shouldn't turnabout be fair play? Marvel thought so, and in 1990, they used the image of a musician on issue #15 of Dr. Strange Sorcerer Supreme. And who personifies the mysticism of Dr. Strange better than Amy Grant? (Well, apart from just about every artist in the field of progressive rock.)
Vishanti watching over me, every step I takeÃ¢ï¿½Â¦
Unfortunately, no one thought to ask permission first. Consequently, Amy Grant sued. Not for copyright infringement, though. She sued because she was worried that any association with mysticism, the occult, or comic books might harm her Christian image. (Years later, after divorcing her husband and marrying country star Vince Gill, she no doubt looked back and laughed at the irony.) Marvel settled the lawsuit, while Grant's savior, Jesus Christ, responded by saying, "Verily, by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, I would have killed to be on the cover of Dr. Strange!" While the choice of Amy Grant might have seemed, well, strange, it should be noted that these were the other options the art department had come up with.
In retrospect, Marvel made the right call.
Dr. Strange has appeared in two movies. The first was a 1978 made-for-tv live-action film that, contrary to all appearances, was NOT a porn film.
Bow-chicka-wow-wow Actually, no.
What the movie lacked in acting, is also lacked in special effects, dialog, and audience appeal. But fear not: you can still view it on youtube. But adding comments has been disabled, so you'll actually have to watch the video. The second was the 2007 animated film which met with much more acclaim. (By which we mean, it currently has a 62% approval rating at RottenTomatoes, versus the 26% for the 1978 film.) Marvel is currently working on a new movie, to be released in 2012. However, with Marvel having been purchased by Disney, you can image what that might do to the film. (And if you can't, don't worry: we here at Cracked can.) To prepare for this movie, we plan on breaking out some past Dr. Strange merchandise: 7-11 cups, legos, and Dr. Strange underoos.
Or, as we like to call it, Project: Score with Megan Fox