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Doctor Strange has been casting spells in the Marvel Universe for over five decades, but next month, he'll finally join the big leagues when his first theatrical movie hits theaters in the U.S. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange will explore how the eponymous protagonist went from being a cocky surgeon to one of Earth's magical defenders in the MCU. Although this cinematic universe has already touched on mystical forces in the Netflix shows and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this movie will fully pull back the curtain on magic
Even though there's only a week until the Sorcerer Supreme's big screen exploits, that's still plenty of time to learn about him from his adventures in comics and other media. That's why we've compiled this list of Doctor Strange stories to check out, ranging from the Silver Age to the modern era. Unless otherwise noted, these stories can be found either as collections or at digital sources like Comixology (or in one entry's case, on Blu-ray/DVD/digitally).
Doctor Strange: The Oath
If you ask a hardcore Doctor Strange fan what's the main comic book story to read starring the good Doctor, chances are they'll mention The Oath first. Written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Marcos Martin, this five-issue story arc saw Stephen Strange dealing with one of his former surgeon colleagues, Nicodemus West, who will actually be played by Michael Stuhlbarg in the live action movie. However, while the cinematic Nicodemus has simply been described as a "rival scientist," his comic book counterpart actually wielded mystical forces against the Sorcerer Supreme. The Oath also followed Strange trying to heal Wong from his terminal cancer. As far as self-contained tales go, outside of Strange's origin, The Oath definitely should rank at the top of your must-read list.
Doctor Strange: The Eternity Saga
The early years of Doctor Strange were some of the craziest. Sure, comic book adventures were weird and unusual, but never before had they been so psychedelic. The Eternity Saga is a prime example of this. Original published as Strange Tales #130-144, this tale from good ol' Stan Lee and Steve Ditko saw Doctor Strange meeting Eternity, the leader of all the abstract entities in the Marvel universe. Strange had to find him in order to learn how to defeat Baron Mordo and Dormammu, two of his greatest adversaries who joined forces for the first time. This particular storyline hasn't been collected as its own volume yet, but if you can track down Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 1, you'll find the tale printed within.
Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme
This is the only non-comics entry on the list, but before the live action Doctor Strange movie, this was the Sorcerer Supreme's most prominent appearance in other media (outside of the occasional guest appearance on another hero's animated series, of course). Released in 2007, Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme told the good Doctor's origin for a new generation. As with other media adaptations, the animated movie took some liberties with the source material, like adding a few original characters and having Strange encounter magic before his car accident, but for the most part, it was a neat self-contained tale that gave Stephen Strange a new way to shine. If you want to get a good sense of what Doctor Strange is all about without turning any pages, Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme would be your best bet.
Doctor Strange: Strange Origin
Doctor Strange debuted in 1963, and if you're able to, we recommend you his original origin story in Strange Tales #110. However, that was back in the Silver Age, a simpler time from the comics. Every now and then, it becomes necessary to re-tell a superhero's origin for current readers. For the Sorcerer Supreme, this was recently done in the graphic novel Doctor Strange: Strange Origin, originally called Doctor Strange: Season One. Written by Greg Pak and illustrated by Emma Rios, this is the best story to read if you want to learn about Stephen Strange's earliest adventures without being bogged down by years of continuity. Described as "part Indiana Jones, part Lord of the Rings," Strange Origin is an exciting adventure that will serve as a good comparison for how the movie tackles the hero's first steps into the mystical realm.
Doctor Strange: A Separate Reality
In case you weren't already aware, Doctor Strange's powers don't just come from the spells he chants. He also wields several mystical items, including the Eye of Agamotto. A Separate Reality, written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Frank Brunner, saw Strange and some of his supporting cast being trapped within the Eye. While there, they battled a number of creepy creatures, as well as Baron Mordo. This was also around the time that the Sorcerer Supreme was moving away from traditional superhero adventures and more towards fantastical and horror-focused storytelling. The collected volume contains the Separate Reality storyline and the rest of Engelhart's run, so you're guaranteed a lot of Doctor Strange weirdness within.
Doctor Strange: The Way of the Weird
If you're new to the world of superheroes, it can be a daunting to jump into the comic books, as these worlds are based off decades of continuity. Fortunately, sometimes a company will relaunch a hero's series that serves as a fresh start for old and new readers alike. That's precisely what The Way of the Weird is for Doctor Strange. Collecting the first five issues of writer Jason Aaron's run, this opening arc saw Stephen Strange battling a force that was determined to wipe out all magic in existence. These issues also added a few extra consequences that magic can have when used for too long or improperly. If you want to start following along with the current Doctor Strange comic book adventures, this volume is the perfect jumping-on point.
Doctor Strange Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment
Superheroes teaming up is par for the course, nowadays. Even Doctor Strange, who is generally a loner, has been a member of a few teams in the comics, like the Defenders and Illuminati. What isn't seen as often is a hero working alongside a villain. That's what the Sorcerer Supreme had to do in Triumph and Torment, as he was forced to ally himself with Doctor Doom, the Fantastic Four's greatest enemy. The two of them ventured into the depths of Hell to retrieve the soul of Doom's mother from Mephisto, and while Doom primarily relies on science in his villainous exploits, he proved how capable he can be with magic when necessary. Although we tried to keep the entries on this list primarily focused on Strange, this tale is too good to pass up reading, and few will argue that having Doom as a co-lead worked marvelously.