Comics
Published May 5, 2022

The Book of the Vishanti: Explained

Crack open the ancient spell book that has served Doctor Strange and all of Earth’s Sorcerer Supremes!

When it comes to magic, balance is key. For every light spell used to help the Multiverse, there exists a counteracting dark force set on its destruction. That principle is not only reflected in the magic wielders of the Marvel Universe, but its two major books of knowledge: The Darkhold and the Book of the Vishanti. Where the Darkhold’s pages offer its readers infinite wisdom on black magic, death, and chaos, the Book of the Vishanti represents its opposite. Contained in this all-telling tome are the secrets to life, restoration, healing, and protection.

The cover of the spell book in DOCTOR STRANGE, SORCERER SUPREME (1988) #6.
DOCTOR STRANGE, SORCERER SUPREME (1988) #6

But what exactly is the Book of the Vishanti? How did it come to be? Well, first and foremost, the text exists as the number one source of light magic spells and has often been possessed by the Sorcerer Supreme. Doctor Stephen Strange refers to this book to keep his home realm (and untold other dimensions) safe from all manner of mystical threats. So, let’s page through the book with a highlight on some of its most interesting passages!

THE FIRST CHAPTER: WHO ARE THE VISHANTI?

The Vishanti trio in DOCTOR STRANGE (2015) #383.
DOCTOR STRANGE (2015) #383

In the “before times,” unimaginably powerful beings known as Agamotto, Oshtur, and Hoggoth worked to defend the nascent Earth against magical mayhem. Known collectively as the Vishanti, this trio wanted to maintain a record of their positive spells and began compiling them into one book, the Book of the Vishanti. Much like the Elder God Chthon did when constructing his Darkhold grimoire!

The Book of Light is a living, breathing document in more than a few ways, specifically because it can be added to by mages who have possessed it. The first Master of the Mystic Arts to wield the book after the Vishanti was Varnae, who would go on to become one of the first vampires. Others like the Ancient One, Doctor Strange, Doctor Voodoo, and even Loki have wielded it since.

The book’s first appearance in STRANGE TALES (1951) #116.
The book’s first appearance in STRANGE TALES (1951) #116.

KALUU THE BOOK THIEF

When the Ancient One's friend-turned-Kamar-Taj’s fallen despot Kaluu returned from a self-imposed exile in the dimension Raggadorr, he sought revenge and immediately went after the book in STRANGE TALES #147-150. The Ancient One warned his disciple Doctor Strange that this foe may be able to overpower them both. And Kaluu lived up to his infamous reputation by stealing the Book of the Vishanti right out from under them both!

Kaluu gets his hands on the book.
STRANGE TALES (1951) #148

After examining it, Kaluu sent the book back to the time and place that the Ancient One took it from oh so many years ago. Nearly defeated by Kaluu, Strange and his teacher traveled back in time to retrieve the mystical text. But first, the Ancient One had to face off against the sacred griffin. After banishing the creature to a realm outside of time, the two sorcerers used the book and their own powers to transport Kaluu to Limbo!

THE SPELL OF FIRE AND ICE

Surtur and Ymir enter Earth's realm.
DOCTOR STRANGE (1968) #177

The Book of the Vishanti was once again stolen by Asmodeus, head of the Sons of Satannish in DOCTOR STRANGE (1968) #177-178. The degenerate demon intended to bring chaos to Earth by unleashing Ymir the Frost Giant and Surtur of fiery Muspelheim by way of the Spell of Fire and Ice. However, Strange had placed a protective spell on the book that transported it directly to the Ancient One in the case of tampering.

Asmodeus (revealed to be Dr. Charles Benton, one of Strange’s medical colleagues) managed to lay hands on the book once more and say the words "Thermidorus...Frigibus...Nihilius" before dying. With that, he brought the great combatants to Earth who began wreaking havoc instantly. Strange had to recruit the Avengers to help keep the world safe while he devised a plan to send both Surtur and Ymir back to their respective dimensional prisons.

MONSTER MANUAL

More than a simple repository of spells, the Book of the Vishanti also acts as an antidote and reference guide for any master of the mystic arts. In the first few years of series DOCTOR STRANGE, SORCERER SUPREME (1988) readers learned more and more about the book’s arcane knowledge. The tome chronicles the history of the villain Baron Mordo as well as the many evil secrets held inside the Darkhold, including the vampire-eradicating Montesi Formula.

The Fear Lords assemble in FEAR ITSELF: FELLOWSHIP OF FEAR (2011) #1.
FEAR ITSELF: FELLOWSHIP OF FEAR (2011) #1

Other sections have recounted the mystical nature of voodoo as well as werewolves. Another chapter digs into the Fear Lords, seven powerful beings solely interested in spreading dread and anxiety among mortals including D'Spayre, the Straw Man, the Dweller-in-Darkness, the Lurking Unknown, the fear-eater Kkallakku, and Nox. And those are just the passages that we've seen— many more fill the fabled volume.

A GOOD LIE

Cover to DOCTOR STRANGE (2015) #381.
Cover to DOCTOR STRANGE (2015) #381.

For a time, magic in the Marvel Universe was in danger of being erased by a being called the Imperator who was thwarted by Doctor Strange. However, the villain did succeed in greatly reducing the amount of sorcery in the world. Already feeling low after magic was nearly annihilated on his watch, Strange was stunned to discover that the Vishanti had deemed Loki, God of Mischief, worthy of becoming the next Sorcerer Supreme! Despite his disbelief Strange forked over his artifacts, including the Book of the Vishanti.

But this all turned out to be a ruse orchestrated by the trickster god. Loki used his own magic to make Doctor Strange think he had been ousted, but in reality the god of lies had a master plan. He used a spell called the Exile of Singhsoon to absorb all the magic left in the world in an attempt to restore it to its former levels. Though no one fully believed him, Loki claimed he did this so that Midgard could properly defend itself against upcoming threats like the WAR OF THE REALMS, hell on Earth in Las Vegas, the bringing together of the Infinity Stones, and the Celestials’ Final Host, all of which did come to pass! 

To fully dive into the Book of the Vishanti and other mystical artifacts, head on over to Marvel Unlimited and start studying!

Download the Marvel Unlimited app for iOS or Android devices now for more stories starring Doctor Strange, the Scarlet WitchAmerica Chavez, and more. You’ll also gain instant access to 29,000+ digital comics with new titles available as early as three months after they’re in stores.

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