Who do you call when supernatural problems need tending to? Why Doctor Stephen Strange of course!
Stan Lee and Steve Ditko debuted the Sorcerer Supreme in the pages of STRANGE TALES #110 back in 1963 and he’s been battling the forces of evil ever since. Dubbed the “Master of Black Magic” in the title treatment, Doctor Strange jumped right into the Marvel Universe by helping out a man hounded by horrible dreams that kept him awake.
After agreeing to help the man, Strange used his astral form to meet with his teacher the Ancient One and then entered the sufferer’s mind. There he met a shackled being who claimed to be the dreamer’s own evil deeds taken shape.
Immediately following the realization, Strange found himself face to face with Nightmare. While the Master of the Mystic Arts dealt with this villain the man awoke with murderous intent. However, thanks to some help from the Ancient One, Strange prevailed over Nightmare and returned to his body to stop his physical assailant.
With Doctor Strange’s second appearance in STRANGE TALES #111 his longtime foe Baron Mordo made his first appearance. He didn’t pop up again until issue #115 of the anthology title because, as the intro box at the beginning of the issue explained, the editors wanted to see how popular the character proved.
At that point, Lee and Ditko laid down the now-famous origin story of a haughty and egotistical narcissist surgeon saw his career go down the tubes after a car crash left his hands too shaky to operate. Embracing a downward spiral into self-contempt, Strange wandered around the city until he heard about an Ancient One who could heal anything.
Refocusing his attention to locating this supposed healer, Strange cleaned up his act and eventually found his quarry on a mountain in India. However, after hearing the doctor’s tale, the Ancient One said, “I cannot help you…for your motives are still selfish.”
Strange intended to leave, but soon discovered Baron Mordo’s plot to kill the Ancient One. The villain cursed the former surgeon so that he could not tell their elder about the plan. So, to prevent the murder, Strange stayed on to study with the Ancient One and keep Mordo’s schemes at bay thus beginning their eternal struggle.
However, the Ancient One released Strange of Mordo’s curse, explaining that he knew about it all along, but that it served as a test that Strange passed. With that approval, he went on to become the Sorcerer Supreme and one of the most interesting and dynamic characters in the Marvel Universe!
Opening the Book of Vishanti
First appearing in STRANGE TALES #111, Baron Mordo quickly became Doctor Strange’s number one enemy during his time in that series and beyond. In that first appearance, Mordo sent his astral projection to possess the Ancient One’s servant in an attempt to kill his former master. Luckily, Stephen attempted to contact the potential victim at that time, failed and sent his own astral form to investigate. Understanding that Mordo’s black magic abilities surpassed his own, Strange resorted to mind games to eventually succeed!
Next time, Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin send Stephen on a pan-dimensional mystery in DOCTOR STRANGE: THE OATH.