Without questions, 2016 has been a banner year for Doctor Strange. Marvel's Doctor Strange hit theaters and instantly put Marve's Sorcerer Supreme into the popular culture vocabulary like never before.
Editor Nick Lowe is the man in charge of editing both of Marvel Comics' Doctor Strange titles, the solo Doctor Strange series by Jason Aaron and lead artist Chris Bachalo, and the team book Doctor's Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme, by writer Robbie Thompson and artist Javier Rodriguez, which sees Strange teaming up with a band of other time-displaced Marvel mystics.
ComicBook.com spoke to Lowe about editing Doctor Strange at the height of his popularity, building a team around him, and what Strange's next challenge will be. Be sure to check out exclusive preview art from Doctor Strange #15 and Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #3 and #4 in the gallery below.
As the editor on Doctor Strange, a character who’s more in the public eye now than ever before, do you feel a certain amount of added pressure in handling his current adventures?
Nick Lowe: I feel pressure whenever I step into editing a book and putting a creative team together. This one was relatively easy because Jason Aaron expressed interest in it and that’s a no brainer. And I wish I could even claim credit for choosing Chris Bachalo, but I can't because Jason brought him up as the ideal Strange artist and I couldn’t agree more.
It's been a joy to get to know the character better because I knew him in passing before I started working on the book, but getting to do a deep dive into his history, into the seminal runs, but especially getting to develop his world further with Jason with Chris has been such a joy. It's such an interesting collaboration because Chris isn't an artist where you can say, "Just draw what's in the script, buddy." There was a lot of back and forth, a lot of collaboration on ideas and concepts, and the constant effort by Jason to put Chris in a position to let his creative mind run free with characters like Mr. Misery and the Empirikul characters and with Zelma, who I really love. It's just so fun. They do such a great job, between balancing the comedy and the serious in the way that the movie did too, I thought. It's really exciting.
I also want to stress how much I'm enjoying Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme. We sent Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #3 to press a couple weeks ago and we're sending issue #4 to press this week, and that issue is one of the most intense 20 pages of a comic I have ever read in my entire life. Javier Rodriguez kicks so much butt on this book and Robbie Thompson has put the most incredible story in front of him. They are also collaborating incredibly.
I feel so spoiled with the two Doctor Strange books we're doing with two of the most imaginative storytellers in the business. I'm a pretty spoiled editor across the board up here. I've been incredibly lucky getting to see these masters at work. I also want to say that the stuff that's happening in Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme is going to have a pretty intense impact on the main Doctor Strange book as well, so I don't want people to fall asleep at the wheel, but it's also just such a great story. It's such a great story and the art is incredible.
In Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #2, Wiccan mentions that Doctor Strange is married in the future timeline he comes from. Are we ever going to find how who Strange is married to?
NL: All good things come to those who wait. Stay patient!
It is also interesting that the Wiccan of Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme is the same Wiccan that appeared as a member of the future X-Men in “Battle of the Atom.” Why did you decide to bring that particular version of the character back?
NL: I can’t remember if that was our suggestion or if Robbie brought him up. I did edit that crossover, so it may have been me. Regardless, I was happy to include the future Wiccan and his awesome Ed McGuinness design. It was Ed McGuinness's idea to put Cloak’s cloak on him. So much fun.
The whole book is fun. It’s so great seeing Isaac Newton. This incarnation is from another book that I edited, so I may have pushed that a little bit, too. I edited the yet unfinished Dustin Weaver/Jonathan Hickman SHIELD book that we will finish come hell or high water soon.
And I'm in love with our two new characters. Kushala, the Demon Rider, who we focus on in Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #3. Her story is incredible and I can't wait for people to see that unfold in issue three. Then in issue four we put a little more focus on The Conjuror! Her name is Nina, and she’s awesome!
That book is an utter pleasure and people will be stunned at what happens there. I loved the idea that Robbie came up with to kill Merlin at the end of issue one. And then there’s the Young Ancient One! I loved having Yao in there before he becomes the one that we know and love. It's such a fun book and to have Doctor Strange in a team book and as the weakest member is pretty incredible, too.
Did you intentionally give the Ancient One a name that is an anagram for his actual name? Yao = Young Ancient One?
NL: [Laughs] That is something I didn't know until this very moment. All that was established long before I took the Strange reins!
Is there a connection between the Demon Rider and Ghost Rider?
NL: Yes. She is the Ghost Rider of the 1880s. She is a Native American woman and she gets really terrifying in Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme when she turns into her Ghost Rider, so we wanted to make sure she had her own unique name as well, so Demon Rider is what we ended up coming up with for that.
Do you find handling Doctor Strange in a solo series versus a team book to be very different?
NL: The things that Jason has done in the Doctor Strange solo book has made the team book a lot more realistic. Strange is a tough person to have on a team book because he is so powerful. He's the one that you can call when the world is about to end so that he can usually come in and wiggle his fingers and everything's solved. With him on a team, when are you in trouble? Never. But with him as de-powered as Jason has made him, that's what made it possible to do this.
That's the fun part is that he's the one we know best, but he's the weakest on the whole team. When Robbie was coming up with the stories for the book we thought that was just such a cool bit and a nice twist on people's expectations. I think it's just been a blessing to have Jason to help us do that because his world has been turned upside down and getting him into a place where he's got a lot to learn again has been really a blessing for the team book.
Doctor Strange’s current storyline, “Blood in the Aether,” has Strange battling one old foe after another. We’ve already seen Baron Mordo, Nightmare, and Satana. Who is still to come?
NL: Up next after Satana, we've got the Orb. The Orb is a personal obsession of Jason Aaron's and he is going to work him into just about every run of any book that he's done with us over here. He may not have shown up in The Hulk, but that's pretty much it. He was in Ghost Rider. I think he showed up in X-Men. I know he was all over Original Sin. He was in Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine. He's basically shown up anywhere Jason has written anything because he is in love with the Orb.
The difference here is that the Orb is terrifying, not hilarious. Well, he’s both. The Orb has one of the Watcher's eyes embedded in his chest from Original Sin. He’s got all the power of the Watcher and none of the ethics. It's trippy to see.
Mr. Misery has more to come, and Baron Mordo. The big one in Doctor Strange #16 is Dormammu. So excited. With Dormammu, I think Jason writes the scariest Dormammu of all-time in this book. It's terrifying.
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