Comics
Published December 8, 2022

How Doctor Strange Died

Ahead of Stephen Strange's return next year in 'Doctor Strange' #1, rediscover the mystery of his death from 'Death of Doctor Strange' and the fallout of it in 'Strange.'

The Marvel Universe boasts many practitioners of the mystic arts, but few are more masterful than Doctor Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. Since his introduction, the hero has used his gifts to defeat some of the Multiverse’s deadliest villains. However, in Jed MacKay and Lee Garbett’s DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE (2021), the Sorcerer Supreme met an untimely end… but that murder is only part of the story. Here’s what you need to know about Doctor Strange’s death, and what has happened since then.

How the Sorcerer Supreme Died

In THE DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE (2021), an unknown assailant murdered the hero in the Sanctum Sanctorum and posthumously removed his hands. This person also stole the Eye of Agamotto and the Cloak of Levitation, replacing them with fakes. Strange’s allies—Wong, Bats, Doctor Voodoo, and Zelma Stanton—soon discovered their friend’s body and immediately launched an investigation into his death. 

Karl Mordo and his disciple, Kaecilius, also arrived to the crime scene soon after. When the heroes accused Mordo of the murder, the villain claimed he wasn’t the culprit. In fact, he wanted revenge on Strange’s killer for taking away the chance for him to murder the Sorcerer Supreme himself. 

This murder mystery got even stranger when a younger version of the Good Doctor showed up. As it turned out, Strange had partitioned off seven days of his life to create a temporal remnant that would manifest after his death, leading this young Strange to appear at the scene. Additionally, Strange’s wife, Clea, returned, as the mindwipe he’d previously performed on her as part of his deal with Mephisto was undone by his death. 

To make matters worse, Strange’s death also disrupted magic on Earth and weakened the barrier between the dimensions, allowing the Warlords and Sorcerer Supremes from other worlds to come to Earth and establish new strongholds. This was more than a mere invasion, though; these Warlords and Sorcerer Supremes were fleeing the Three Mothers, a trio of powerful beings who sacrifice those with magical energy to a monstrous being called the Peregrine Child. Together, the Three Mothers and the Peregrine Child proved more than a match for the magic users of Earth—as well as the Avengers and the X-Men.

When the investigation began in earnest, Strange and his team confronted Mordo, who was in possession of the real Eye of Agamotto and Cloak of Levitation, and accused him of taking them off the Sorcerer Supreme’s dead body. However, that was merely part of an attempt to frame the villain for his rival’s murder. This revelation allowed Strange to surmise that whoever killed him must have wanted to also hurt Mordo.

Strange, Clea, and Illyana Rasputina, AKA Magik, confronted the Warlords, Mordo, and Kaecilius in Antarctica at Umarria. There, the Sorcerer Supreme revealed that Kaecilius had struck a deal with the Warlords to borrow some of their power to kill Doctor Strange, thus allowing them to go to Earth and flee the Three Sisters. Kaecilius framed Mordo, as his master didn’t help him escape the Purple Dimension when Strange trapped him there. 

A battle ensued between Mordo and Strange. Initially, Mordo seemed poised to win, as he’d grafted the older Strange’s hands to his arms, giving him immense power. However, the younger Strange used a healing spell to essentially restore the older version of himself from those hands, overwriting Kaecilius in the process.

The two Stranges and their allies then dealt with the Three Mothers and the Peregrine Child. As part of their plan, the younger Strange entered the Peregrine Child’s stomach and detonated the magical energy inside, while the Three Mothers were scatted to different dimensions by a team of other sorcerers. 

Still, the older Strange’s resurrection was short-lived, as Death proved unwilling to give up the Sorcerer Supreme so easily. After kissing Clea and entrusting her with the mantle of the Sorcerer Supreme, he disintegrated.

After Doctor Strange’s Death

Following Strange’s death, Clea became Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. Although she did want to resurrect Strange using magic, that method proved insufficient due to Death’s desire to keep him. 

Ever since she took up the role of Sorcerer Supreme, Clea’s biggest threat has been the Blasphemy Cartel, a mysterious group that recently devastated the Shrouded Bazaar, a magical marketplace under her protection. Making matters worse, the group began resurrecting dead heroes and villains as their first line of offense.

At the site of those confrontations with the resurrected dead, Clea encountered the mysterious Harvestman, a servant of Death who warned her against attempting to resurrect Strange. Soon, though, Clea discovered the Harvestman was, in fact, her deceased husband.
 

Following his demise, Strange had struck a deal with Death to put an end to the revenants and stop a rebellion in her kingdom in exchange for being restored to life. Due to their opposite natures—with the Harvestman being tied to death and the Sorcerer Supreme tied to life—the estranged husband and wife found themselves unable to even touch each other. Plus, after the revelation, Clea made clear she was angry with Strange for his lack of transparency regarding his return.

With some help from Jean Grey, who restored some conspicuously missing memories, Wong revealed to Strange and Clea that the Blasphemy Cartel is actually the remnants of the Wizard Alchemy Necromancy Department, AKA W.A.N.D., the former magical division of S.H.I.E.L.D. Following the group’s dissolution at the end of SECRET EMPIRE (2017), the Blasphemy Cartel used a special weapon to erase its existence from memory. The group’s leader, the mysterious Director None, went a step further and erased his very identity. 

Together, the combined might of Strange, Clea, Wong, and former W.A.N.D. director/Blasphemy Cartel target Pandora Peters might just prove strong enough to thwart the villainous group. However, when Strange does return to life, he’ll have a hoary host of problems to deal with, including Clea’s anger at him for his actions as Harvestman.

For the next part of the story, check out STRANGE (2022) #9 by Jed MacKay and Marcelo Ferreira, on sale Dec. 21, and don’t miss the first issue of DOCTOR STRANGE (2023) on March 22.

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