Published February 14, 2019

5 Times Doctor Strange Had to Fight Without Magic

Prep for next week's 'Doctor Strange' #11 with a look at the Sorcerer Supreme's past!


There's no denying that Doctor Stephen Strange is one of the most powerful magic users in this dimension; he’s the Sorcerer Supreme and Master of the Mystic Arts for cryin’ out loud! But what happens when you strip this hero of his most powerful artifacts, like his enchanted Cloak of Levitation and magical amulet?

Do his powers cease to be? Or do the absence of these objects merely create annoying hindrances that briefly stop his ability to channel the Mystic Arts to their fullest? Next week, in DOCTOR STRANGE #11, the concept of magic debt rears its head once again, so we're taking a look back at the subject.


Now relive a few moments Doctor Strange had to survive without magic, his mystical artifacts, or his fancy title. Away we go!


After being cast into a seemingly desolate dimension, Strange and Clea were nearly devoured by plant-like beings that would seem more at home in a Salvador Dalí painting. Before Strange could be wholly eaten, he uttered a spell that freed him. There was only a single moment of respite, however, because Stephen was let go at a great height without his Cloak of Levitation.

Just as all seemed lost, the Sorcerer Supreme unleashed the Eye of Agamotto, which created a path of fire upon which he could walk without being burned. As it turned out, Asmodeus, leader of the Sons of Satannish, was not able to strip that particular object from our hero.

Doctor Strange (1968) #177

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Back at Satannish HQ, the Cloak and amulet vanish without a trace, but it was a small comfort for Strange who, without the Cloak, could not soar out of the desert-like dimension with Clea. Luckily, it was revealed that the Sorcerer Supreme hid the true Cloak of Levitation in a graveyard far away from prying eyes. Of course, the Eye of Agamotto was able to locate it and return it to Strange just in time before he could totally transform into a trippy plant from another universe.

His powers fully restored, Strange returned to Earth and confronted Asmodeus, who was trying to trick the Ancient One into giving him magical knowledge. In the end, the Satannish cult leader was revealed to be Strange’s former medical colleague, Dr. Benton, who unleashed Ymir, the first giant, and Surtur, a fiery demon, with one final spell.


During a battle with a demon named Khat, Strange’s ability to cast spells failed him when his hands began to shake like they did in the days after his car accident. Khat then talked about how Strange had no powers, only “the knowledge of spells and the training to use them.” Stephen began to lament that the demon was right, giving Khat a chance to rip the Cloak of Levitation to shreds.

Doctor Strange (1974) #77

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Strange’s moment of weakness proved to be a ruse, however, and he was able to defeat Khat, banishing the evil entity back to the pite of fire from whence he came.


During the WORLD WAR HULK storyline from Greg Pak and John Romita Sr., Strange once again lost his ability to cast spells when the Hulk crushed his hands. Yes, you read that right. After the Hulk returned to Earth to seek revenge on those who sent him off into space (and onto Sakaar), Strange attempted to reason with the Jade Giant.

World War Hulk (2007) #3

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He was able to coax out Bruce Banner and admitted that he was originally on board for tricking the Hulk, who was just too dangerous to stay on the planet. It seemed like Strange was going to be able to mitigate the situation, but then Banner transformed and the Hulk broke the doctor’s hands. Unable to cast a spell, Strange had no other choice then to open a special box, which allowed him to channel the powers of the extra-dimensional demon known as Zom, something that Wong strongly advised against.


In NEW AVENGERS #54, Jericho Drumm (otherwise known as Brother Voodoo) came into possession of the Eye of Agamotto, which turned him into the new Sorcerer Supreme. While still technically a Master of the Mystic Arts, Strange willingly gave up the title and the responsibilities that came with it. Along with the Eye, Brother Voodoo also got the Cloak of Levitation and some mystic texts that would help him come into his new position.

New Avengers (2004) #54

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Parker Robbins (AKA the Hood) was possessed by a fiery demon and was wreaking havoc in search of the Eye of Agamotto. Strange was able to perform a defensive spell to keep the Hood (possessed of a fiery demon) at bay, but it was Voodoo who performed an exorcism that returned Robbins to his human form.


Loki once became the Sorcerer Supreme after Strange lost to the Asgardian God of Mischief in a mystical tournament. (He didn’t really lose; the Vishanti just decided to choose him over Strange.)

As Stephen himself said, the title doesn't care much for adjectives like “good” and “evil.” At first, Strange wasn’t too upset about Loki taking over the Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village. In fact, he was actually impressed at how well the deity was adjusting to his new post.

After abdicating the position of Sorcerer Strange, Strange decided to go back to practicing medicine…sort of. He became a veterinarian! He also grew a pretty sweet retirement beard.

Doctor Strange (2015) #381

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Despite the protestations of Wanda Maximoff (AKA Scarlet Witch), Stephen refused to get back into the magical game. Her side of the story seemed to indicate that Stephen was bitter that he’d lost the title and gave up the world of mysticism after the shame of losing to Loki was just too great.

When he learned that Loki was trying to learn the Exile of Singshoon (basically the nuclear launch codes of the magical world), Strange went to confront the new occupant of 177A Bleecker Street, but was easily defeated. After he unceremoniously threw Stephen out of his home and slammed him into a car, Loki remarked, “I keep forgetting you’re just a mortal.. You used to be so much bigger than this.”

Depleted of his magical reserves, the Doctor enlisted the help of the Sentry, traveled to Asgard, stole some magic, summoned the Void, helped defeat the Void, and finally got his title back. 

Read DOCTOR STRANGE #11 at your local comic shop next Wednesday, February 20!