Published March 15, 2017

Sorcerers Supreme: A Traitor Within

Robbie Thompson explains why Isaac Newton can’t be trusted!

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When you possess the power a team of Sorcerers Supreme does—as the characters in DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME do—sometimes the only thing that can really stop you comes from within. With this group, that proves the case, and the problem goes by the name “Isaac Newton.”

The philosopher-turned member of the Shield secret society-turned Sorcerer Supreme found himself seduced by his own power and the promise of still more to come, turning his teammates. We located writer Robbie Thompson holed out in his stronghold and asked him all about the betrayer in their midst. From a writer’s perspective, what made you decide that a traitor within the Sorcerers was needed for the story?

Robbie Thompson: When editor Nick Lowe and I first talked about building a team of Sorcerers from a different era, we wanted to make sure each had their own agenda for joining Merlin’s crazy group. In order to inject conflict within the group, not all those agendas could be noble! We wanted to have a real wild card in the group, and make sure that readers were suspicious of everyone’s motivations as the first arc unfolded.

Inspired by “The Dirty Dozen,” where they’re all wild cards, we talked a lot about Telly Savalas’s character—who was the wildest of all of them—and how we could work that dynamic into our group and have a ticking time bomb that would go off in [issue #4]. Newton isn’t as psychotic as Archer Maggott, but he’s getting there! What about Newton made him the ideal candidate to turn against the Supremes?

Robbie Thompson: Nick was the editor of the S.H.I.E.L.D. book that featured Newton and when he sent me those issues to re-read, Newton in that book felt like he was perfectly positioned to be a big force in our story, and specifically a force of evil. Newton is arrogant and brilliant which is a lethal combination, and of all of the Sorcerers assembled, he’s there for the most selfish reason: he never cared about The Forgotten, or any of his fellow Supremes.

He only cared about what gave The Forgotten such immense power, and he wanted that power for himself. While it has been clear since the S.H.I.E.L.D. limited series that Newton loves power, what else—if anything—motivated him to turn on his team? How is he rationalizing his betrayal?

Robbie Thompson: As you say, Newton loves power, but I think what motivates him actually comes from a pure place which is that he’s arrogant enough to believe not only that he deserves this much power, but that he can control it. He believes he can and should be a god. We’ll see pretty quickly that while he can wield this power to great effect, it’s much more than he, or anyone, can handle.

Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #7 cover by Javier Rodriguez Everyone loves Newton’s sidekick, The Mindful One. How is he being affected by Newton’s dastardly decision?

Robbie Thompson: I love Mindful!

He is so much fun to write, and Newton’s betrayal has put him in a really tough spot. He’s continuing to evolve and become more mindful to his new teammates—especially Kushala, who is the one who sees the most potential in Mindful. But Mindful is fiercely loyal to Newton, without whom Mindful would be nothing more than a mindless drone. He’s going to have to choose sides pretty quickly, and we can only hope he’s evolved enough to make the right call! Within the team, how has this betrayal affected each of the remaining members?

Robbie Thompson: I think it’s ultimately the thing that’s going to unite them, and also put Strange into more of a leadership role. They all had reasons to join Merlin’s quest to take down The Forgotten, but it was mostly for selfish reasons, outside of Nina. Now they can truly unite against a common enemy who has taken so much from them. How much do we know about why Newton has come to the present day Marvel Universe? What can you tease for readers about his motives?

Robbie Thompson: Newton is coming to the present to find a magical object he needs but also because he knows from Strange that magic is weak in Strange’s time—he’ll be even more powerful in that era and be able to wreck more havoc. One of the obstacles Newton encounters in the modern day is the Avengers. How over their heads are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?

Robbie Thompson: As you can see at the end of #6, things go pretty poorly for the Avengers! But they actually know more about what’s powering Newton now than they realize, and can help the Sorcerers turn the tide—if they can survive! For people who haven’t checked out the SORCERERS SUPREME yet or who have fallen behind, why is #7 the issue to jump in on?

Robbie Thompson: [SORCERERS SUPREME] #6 technically launches the new arc in a Choose Your Own Adventure style romp, but #7 is the perfect jumping on point as it launches our new arc in earnest, as Strange and company have to battle an insanely powered Newton. As you’ll see at the very end of #7, though, there’s more to the power that Newton is wielding than he understands and that revelation is what “powers” this second arc.

Join the fight against Isaac Newton in DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #7, coming your way April 12!