Doctor Strange is launching once more, but figuratively with a new #1 issue and also literally into space. That's right, the new Doctor Strange series will feature Marvel's Master of the Mystic Arts leaving Earth behind to explore the vast reaches of space. The series, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Jesus Saiz, picks up not too long after the close of Donny Cates and Gabriel Hernandez's recent run with Doctor Strange disconnected from his mystical powers. The Eye of Agamotto has closed, and Strange has decided to travel into space, with some help from his friend Tony Stark, to seek out new solutions to the pressing magical problems of the day.
While the image of Doctor Strange against a star-strewn background isn't difficult to conjure, the Sorcerer Supreme's adventures among the stars have been relatively limited to date, especially when compared to his fellow Avengers and Defenders. For as often as Stephen Strange strides between realities and into other dimensions, it's not a regular occurrence for him to blast off to visit Jupiter or other solar systems altogether. That connection seems to be a long time coming though when you consider Doctor Strange's place in the Marvel universe. While Waid and Saiz's upcoming run promises a whole new world(s) of adventure, it also feels like an inevitability that this pair of excellent creators finally decided to make real.
A Top-Tier Superhero
Part of this comes as a long overdue recognition of Doctor Strange's incredibly powerful position within the Marvel universe. For decades he has primarily existed within his own series and stories, or as a member of less popular teams like The Defenders. None of this is meant to disparage the incredible creators who have worked on Doctor Strange over the years, or the many classic stories they have told. The original Doctor Strange comics plotted and drawn by Steve Ditko remain some of the absolute best work from the entire Silver Age. They reimagined how landscapes could be drawn and what antagonistic forces could be fought in a superhero comic. However, the character of Doctor Strange was never a top seller for Marvel Comics, and his placement within their pantheon of heroes reflected this. Instead of being an A-list title or leader in the Avengers, he remained a force to be called upon in the midst of events.
Yet his central role in stories like The Infinity Gauntlet also reveals that he has always been one of the great powerhouses among Marvel Comics superheroes. While Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Hank Pym, and others would often join forces to confront the most startling scientific threats to face the universe, it was common for Doctor Strange to stand alone against literal gods and metaphysical forces. His ability to imagine impossible solutions and discover ancient powers allowed him to handle many of the greatest foes in all of Marvel Comics, ranging from Dormammu to Nightmare. The truth is that Doctor Strange has always been an A-list hero ready to roam the galaxy, but is only now getting the opportunity.
With Friends and Family Abroad
It's not like Doctor Strange has lacked connections to the stars either. The Defenders, his most iconic team membership, was co-founded by the Silver Surfer. That original foursome, also including The Hulk and Namor, brought together all of the most dangerous elements of Marvel Comics with the combination of four very different and very powerful superheroes. This has led Doctor Strange to battle cosmic entities like Xemnu the Titan in the pages of The Defenders, but almost always on Earth. While it appears that Doctor Strange is taking off on a solo mission in the pages of his new series, there can be little doubt that he'll encounter both old allies and enemies along the way.
Strange also has more familiar connections among the stars. Although he has regularly been able to battle his greatest foes from the comfort of his Sanctum Sanctorum, they are known for roaming his galaxy far away from Earth. He has a notable connection to both Umar and Dormammu through his past love interest Clea, their daughter and niece, respectively. Both have made incursions beyond Earth in Marvel Comics, destroying other elements of reality that were not as well guarded by a mystic protector. It's almost certain that Strange will find them or other past foes and familial connections amongst the stars, and not expecting his appearance so far away from home.
Ready to Take Center Stage
Taking Doctor Strange out to the stars makes perfect sense given his immense power and all of his existing connection to the cosmos. However, the real reason that this big move feels inevitable is the characters path in both movies and comics over the past several years. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are already aware of Strange's enormous potential and have watched his spells warp time itself. Anyone coming to comics from the Marvel movies would expect cosmic adventure, especially after seeing Doctor Strange travel to Titan in Avengers: Infinity War.0comments
Even more significantly are the consequences of the characters most recent adventures. During the Jason Aaron run, Doctor Strange was stripped of almost all his magic as the Empirikul destroyed the most powerful artifacts and conjurers on Earth. With very few resources remaining to him, he continued and fought even more devilish fiends during Donny Cates run with the character. Despite his past glories, Doctor Strange is in need of new sources for power and Earth is fresh out. The only place left to look is the stars.
That's why this transition in a brand new Doctor Strange #1 is so exciting. After decades spent battling threats to the entire cosmos and forging friendships with alien travelers, Doctor Strange is finally dedicating himself to being a superhero that regularly travels beyond Earth. In spite of a few exceptions, like Infinity Gauntlet, Strange has almost always been a homebody, something Waid and Saiz seem determined to change. It's an exciting shift in the dynamics of one of Marvel Comics' most powerful characters, and one that will hopefully reverberate through many series to come.