Comics
Published August 17, 2022

'Strange' Writer Jed MacKay Breaks Down Doctor Strange's Return

Jed MacKay tells Marvel.com all about Stephen Strange's return in 'Strange' #5 and what that means for the series' future.

Doctor Strange lives! In Jed Mackay and Marcelo Ferreira's STRANGE (2022) #5, the Harvestman took off his mask, revealing none other than Stephen Strange underneath. Following his recent demise(s), Stephen became a different kind of Sorcerer Supreme and now obeys another master: Death herself. While he has kept this terrible truth from his wife Clea, who took up his former mantle in his stead, their mutual pursuit of the Blasphemy Cartel brings them ever closer together – and neither of them may be prepared for what happens next.

Speaking to Marvel.com, MacKay explained exactly why Stephen Strange was never destined for a peaceful afterlife. He broke down Strange's new look as the Harvestman, describing it as the "inverse" of his Sorcerer Supreme costume. He also teased the Blasphemy Cartel's endgame, Clea's eventual confrontation with Stephen, Wong's major role in the next issue, and more.

MARVEL.COM: How long have you been planning to bring Stephen Strange back into the fold? Why now?

JED MACKAY: Well, I wouldn't say he's in the fold just yet – but Stephen Strange is certainly back in play, and as we now know, has been since STRANGE (2022) #1. Strange is too great a prize, too much of a busybody to retire into an afterlife, and as Death's own Sorcerer Supreme, we see that he's been working behind the scenes. To what end? We'll have to see.

MARVEL.COM: Stephen has a new look! Tell me about working with Marcelo Ferreira to create his Harvestman alter ego.

JED MACKAY: I had some idea of what I wanted the Harvestman to look like, and Marcelo, in typical fashion, created something better. We were looking for something that would be the inverse counterpart to the Sorcerer Supreme – the grim raiment of Death, in contrast the rich panoply of life that magic, and the Sorcerer Supreme, represents. Deathmask, keys and lock, tattered cloak and scythe... Marcelo took the shell of an idea and came up with something iconic.

MARVEL.COM: Just how quickly are we going to learn more about this sinister deal between Stephen and Death?

JED MACKAY: Well, in the Mighty Marvel Manner, next issue cuts away to follow Wong following the other prong of our mystery: who are the Blasphemy Cartel? We'll return to the Sorcerer Supreme and the Harvestman in STRANGE (2022) #7, though!

MARVEL.COM: How worried should we be about the mysterious leader of the Blasphemy Cartel?

JED MACKAY: Pretty worried! Director None has an endgame – and it's not going to be great for the world. We'll see a little more of where he and his organization came from in STRANGE (2022) #8, as we ramp up for the big showdown!

MARVEL.COM: Stephen drew a line in the sand with Death over Clea. How far would you say he’s willing to go to protect her, perhaps even from himself?

JED MACKAY: We'll see the answer to that question as well in #7, because Stephen as the Harvestman begs the question: why? Why would you keep that a secret from the one you love most in the world?

MARVEL.COM: On the other hand, Clea has proved she’ll go to extraordinary lengths to get Stephen back. At this moment in the story, how prepared is she to learn he was in front of her the entire time?

JED MACKAY: Extremely unprepared, as it turns out. Clea and Stephen, as magicians, share a common trait: they always think they know what's going on. Magicians are accustomed to forbidden knowledge, having access to sources of information no one else does, and Clea and Stephen are each at the tops of their respective games. But it's a cold realization that perhaps there is something that you've been unaware of...

MARVEL.COM: Moon Knight offered Clea an interesting perspective on gods and death. What led you to choose the Fist of Khonshu as her partner for this critical issue? 

JED MACKAY: Well, I'm also writing MOON KNIGHT (2021), so I didn't have to clear a cameo with anyone else, haha. But also, it just made sense – Moon Knight's unique perspective as a multiple-resurrectee at the behest of an insane moon god was the perfect catalyst for Clea to make that intuitive jump, to fill in the missing puzzle piece.

MARVEL.COM: What are you most excited for readers to see as this arc comes to a close?

JED MACKAY: I mean, come on. We all want to see what happens when Clea confronts the Harvestman – and knows his name.

Don't miss Stephen Strange's return in MacKay and Ferreira's STRANGE (2022) #5, on sale now!

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