Strange Days Ahead
‘Strange’ creators Jed MacKay and Marcelo Ferreira kick off a dangerous new era in the realm of Marvel magic with Clea stepping up to be a different sort of Sorcerer Supreme!
It’s been a tumultuous year in the world of Marvel magic, with the DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE, longtime Sorcerer Supreme, and subsequent ascension of his former wife, Clea, to the role. As readers saw in STRANGE (2022) #1, available in comic shops now, this Master of the Mystic Arts brings a very different attitude to the role, which could suit her well or prove her undoing in dealing with supernatural threats old and new.
In the wake of STRANGE #1, we summoned writer Jed MacKay and artist Marcelo Ferreira for a conference about Clea and the dangerous new status quo sprouting up around her, plus inquiries on Wong, Doctor Doom, the mysterious Harvestman and much more!
When did you come on board for this project, Jed?
JED MACKAY: I came on board for DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE when I was looking for a new job. I'd cleared a few projects off my plate and had to find something new to fill my schedule. I'd just finished writing the Doctor Strange section in our BLACK CAT (2020) “King in Black” event arc, and thought it would be fun to work with the Sorcerer Supreme given that there was no currently running series or announcement of a new one. I emailed [Editor] Darren [Shan] and got the okay—only to be told that we were going to kill Doctor Strange! And then after that, our plans dovetailed into what would become STRANGE #1!
Marcelo, how did you join up and what was already in place when you came onto the project?
MARCELO FERREIRA: I think it all started back when I did [one-shot] DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE: SPIDER-MAN with Jed. That is when we worked together for the first time. I had just finished my run on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) when I got invited to do that issue, which ended up being a great experience. And after that I got invited by Darren Shan for some more Doctor Strange, an ongoing series. Only this time I learned that it was Clea who was taking the mantle, and the title would be STRANGE. I said “yes” immediately, because working with Jed previously was such a great experience, and the premise of STRANGE sounded really exciting!
How early in the process for DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE was Clea taking over discussed?
JED MACKAY: It wasn't until later in the process that we settled on what we wanted to do at the end of the series; we had left it somewhat open, with plans for different directions depending on what we decided. However, once we began to talk about what our options were, it became pretty clear that Clea as Sorcerer Supreme was the most exciting avenue that we had open to us and went with that.
Why does Clea as Sorcerer Supreme make for such an interesting premise with this new series?
JED MACKAY: Clea is a longtime Doctor Strange supporting character, but she's had little opportunity to shine on her own, and I find it a very interesting thing when a character that is most frequently a supporting member of the cast is permitted to take the entire spotlight (see Black Cat, Taskmaster, etc). Clea's interesting to me in that she's not human; she certainly looks it, and has certainly acted like it, but in reality there's a remove between her and the rest of the world that has been interesting to explore.
In terms of defining the look for Clea, how much input did you have, and how much came straight from Marcelo or in collaboration?
JED MACKAY: Not much from my end, as most of the groundwork was already there; we had the great "casual" Clea look that Lee Garbett had designed for [DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE], and then using the Alex Ross Sorcerer Supreme design from EARTH X had us off to the races.
How does bringing in Doctor Doom so early on establish that Clea is a different kind of character? How will we see her relating to the rest of the Marvel Universe as the series progresses?
JED MACKAY: Well, with the office of Sorcerer Supreme apparently up for grabs, it was only a matter of time before Doom turned up to sniff around. Clea and Doom's interactions set the tone for the book: Clea isn't a blushing ingenue, she's a character with a pedigree going back only a couple years after Stephen Strange himself debuted. She knows the movers and shakers of this world and is not interested in taking any grief off any of them.
Marcelo, was it fun getting to draw Doom?
MARCELO FERREIRA: Absolutely! Loved it. If there was anything bad about it, it was that he showed up only for a few pages. I hope Jed still has in store other big guns from Marvel for me to draw in the coming issues—we'll see. I surely hope so!
Why is Wong so crucial to the story you’re trying to tell and what is unique about his relationship to Clea?
JED MACKAY: You can't have a Strange story without Wong. He's the partner of the Sorcerer Supreme, and he's the heart and soul of the whole Bleecker Street operation. Wong's relationship with Clea is an old one; by the time we come to see them working together in [the first] issue, they've known each other for years and have that comfortable familiarity of old roommates.
Talk to me about the creation of the Shrouded Bazaar. Where did this idea come from and will we see more of this and other new locations in the issues to come?
JED MACKAY: In the earliest iteration of my ideas for Doctor Strange, before we, well, killed him, I had wanted to look at the supernatural half-world of Manhattan, something that Doctor Strange would be a part of. The idea of hidden magical neighborhoods where arcane beings could be themselves and congregate was one that seemed a natural fit for the world of Doctor Strange.
How did the Bazaar develop visually?
MARCELO FERREIRA: Jed gave me a general description about this marketplace full of magical beings and things and gave me free rein to go crazy. That was a pretty fun one!
What hints can you give us about the Blasphemy Cartel?
JED MACKAY: The Blasphemy Cartel are magical gangsters, humans with a lot more juice than they should have. Where do they get their tools, intel, and training? Well, that's a question that will be answered down the line.
Marcelo, where did their look come from?
MARCELO FERREIRA: Again, my starting point was Jed's suggestion: they should look like regular black ops, army guys, fully hooded and not showing their faces, and they should all look more or less the same, except for the numbers on their foreheads. And they use firearms... and magic! Most of the stuff you'll see in the book comes from Jed’s vision that I take and give my own input. Pretty collaborative between us, which is great.
How will the fact that Clea is of Faltine blood—that she’s a warlord—impact her approach to the job? As we have already seen in STRANGE #1, she’s much more ruthless than her predecessor. Is there any wiggle room for Wong to have an influence on her in that regard?
JED MACKAY: It will be an ongoing source of contention. Clea lives by the standards of the Dark Dimension, a place that is intrinsically more brutal than Earth, and that clash of cultures will inform her actions as Sorcerer Supreme.
With the resurrection of Thunderstrike at the end of issue #1, what can you tell us about what’s to come with Clea’s quest and other dead heroes she might encounter?
JED MACKAY: Wait and see, really. It would certainly appear that costumed heroes (and villains) are coming back from the dead, and coming back wrong...
Finally, anything to say about the Harvestman, both in terms of story teases and/or artistic influences?
JED MACKAY: The Harvestman will be an ongoing thorn in Clea's side, dedicated to the whims of Death, and we will see how she deals with that! After all, you cannot kill that which is already dead...
MARCELO FERREIRA: Harvestman was just my kind of character: dark, weird, but also powerful. As always, Jed gave me some thoughts about him and I guess we nailed the final design in two or three rounds of sketches. For me personally he is a challenge, because I have to convey his emotions while he wears a metal mask that doesn't move. But since I love a good challenge, it only adds to the fun of drawing this cool villain.
Read STRANGE (2022) digitally or in print at your local comic book shop. Be sure to ask your local shop about their current business policies to observe social distancing or other services they may offer, including holding or creating pull lists, curbside pick-ups, special deliveries, and other options to accommodate. Find and support your local comic book shop at ComicShopLocator.com or by visiting Marvel.com/LoveComicShops.
For digital comics, all purchases in the Marvel Comics app can be read on iPhone®, iPad® and select Android™ devices! Our smart-paneling feature provides an intuitive reader experience, ideal for all types of mobile device and tablet users! Download the app on iOS and Android now!
The Hype Box
Can’t-miss news and updates from across the Marvel Universe!