Let’s face it, Doctor Strange is a weird dude. With his mystical powers, trippy origin story, and mind-bending cosmic adventures, it’s easy to feel a little intimidated by the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s newest cloaked hero. Add to his inherent strangeness the fact that he was created around the time that comics were just a drug fuelled trip through the 60s and you have an idea just how strange Doctor Strange can be; especially outside of the theatre.
To celebrate Doctor Strange’s cinematic release we’re taking a look back at his appearances in the comics and picking out the weirdest, most insane, silliest, and downright nonsensical moments in his history. Sure, the mirror dimension might be the trippiest thing you’ve seen on the big screen in a while, but that’s got nothing on some of the adventures that Stephen Strange has been up to in his six decades of existence. So sit back, meditate, repeat your mantra, and get ready to say WTF. Here’s the 15 Most WTF Things Doctor Strange Has Ever Done.
15. Played Baseball with a Demon
Filling the pages of one of Doctor Strange’s more recent comics was a story of heartbreak and loss. You see, the good Doctor had just lost his position as Sorcerer Supreme and the Eye of Agomotto was taken from him after he abused dark magic. Lacking powers and the will to carry on, in Strange: The Doctor Is Out Doctor Strange finds himself battling evil with a group of human souls counting on him to free them from demonic possession. So what does Strange do? He plays baseball, of course.
Without magic Stephen Strange for some reason is forced to participate in the good old game of baseball if he wants to defeat the demons that have possessed the opposing team. What follows is a game where the Lord High Incubus of Games and Chance – Tul’uth – cheats as much as he possibly can (without resorting to steroids). Just as Doctor Strange is about to strike out for the last time, his apprentice uses magic to keep the ball in play and Doctor Strange of course hits the game winning home run.
14. Fought a Giant Rabbit and Hookah Smoking Caterpillar
If you’ve ever thought that comics could use some more Alice In Wonderland-style madness then The Silver Dagger arc in Doctor Strange is just for you. Written in the 1970s at a time when LSD and marijuana was flowing throughout all the comic book offices of America, the storyline follows Doctor Strange at odds with an assassin named The Silver Dagger who is somehow connected with and fighting for the Catholic Church.
Created by Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner, the story features many Alice In Wonderland homages and starts off with a giant bunny as Doctor Strange finds himself trapped inside the Orb of Agamotto. It’s here that a massive caterpillar smoking a hookah makes an appearance and ends up having a nice little sit down with our titular hero. Meeting Death and other Marvel heroes along the way, Strange eventually finds a way out and reverses The Silver Dragger’s plan by trapping him inside Wonderland – er, we mean the Orb of Agamotto – for eternity.
13. Strangled by His Cape Until His Head Exploded
With Marvel’s Ultimate imprint they were allowed to get away with some pretty wild stuff that you definitely won’t see popping up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe any time soon. Following Stephen Strange Jr., Doctor Strange’s son from an alternate universe, the comics painted this new Doctor Strange as one who doesn’t exactly know what he’s doing.
Not as adept at magic as you’d expect Doctor Strange to be, he finds himself fighting famed villain Dormammu in the Dark Dimension only for things to quickly go south. Without his fighting skills or intelligence to outwit his longtime foe, Strange ends up dying; but not in a traditionally dramatic comic book way. No, Doctor Strange eventually meets his demise by being strangled with his own cape. Pathetic and played as a gross out gag, it’s more a sad moment in Doctor Strange history than anything, especially when you look at the panels themselves and see the Sorcerer Supreme’s head swell up like a blueberry and explode in the most Violet Beauregarde way imaginable.
12. Fought Inside the Sun
Originally featured in a comic book called Strange Tales, the tales of Doctor Strange were exactly that. So it’s no wonder that the original writers and artists took creative liberties with the character, often exposing him to some of the most experimental storylines in the history of the medium. One such example is Doctor Strange’s epic fight with Baron Mordo and Dormammu, both of whom had enough of the doctor and intended to get rid of him for good.
So in issue #132 of Strange Tales Doctor Strange’s spirit ventured onto the surface of the sun and started fighting Baron Mordo. When that wasn’t weird enough, he actually went inside the sun for the final epic showdown. Surrounded by atoms and simple yet complex art that showcases a location no one could ever possibly imagine, the issue features some of Steve Ditko’s most unique artwork in one of the most important battles in Doctor Strange’s history.
11. Declined a TV Interview and Sought Revenge on the Journalists
If there’s one thing to know about Doctor Strange it’s that he’s one of the more arrogant characters in the Marvel Universe. Sure, you could argue that Tony Stark is up there, but Strange has had his experience both as a world famous doctor and a universe-famous sorcerer in assholery. And that’s why you shouldn’t be surprised when you hear about the weird and petty game that Stephen Strange played with a group of TV journalists that he didn’t want to talk to.
Asked to appear on a news program and discuss the existence of magic, Doctor Strange declines, but isn’t happy just leaving it at that. Feeling slighted and all-powerful, Strange allows the journalists to play with an ancient magic artefact on live TV that he pretty much knows is going to suck them into another dimension. So when it does and they find themselves face to face with an evil villain named Tiboro, Strange reluctantly shows up, defeats the bad guy, and wipes the minds of the journalists. It all ends up being rather tedious for him, but it makes one thing clear; don’t ask Doctor Strange to do something he has no interest in.
10. Got a New Look to Escape Eternal Capture
It’s always fun to see comic book creators pass off changing the character as a story-related move, and that’s exactly what happened here. Faced with declining sales of a character that the mass public didn’t quite understand, Gene Colan and Roy Thomas were tasked with creating a new look for Doctor Strange. Instructed to make the character look more like a superhero, the duo came up with a storyline – and a new look – that people have largely chosen to ignore over the intervening time.
The story went like this; Doctor Strange got exiled into another dimension and was cursed to live there for eternity. Using his, um, “intelligence,” Doctor Strange realizes that the curse won’t affect him if he changes his appearance, so he dons a new costume, turns himself blue, and returns to the real world. Unfortunately for creators, what few fans Doctor Strange did have didn’t appreciate the new look, and the Doctor changed back to his old self within seven issues.
9. High-Fiving Tony Stark Because They’re “Facial Hair Bros”
While many of the stories on this list are strange because of how big and self-important they tried to be, this one is so little and insignificant that it ends up being a hilarious point in Doctor Strange’s history. Overlapping with the Marvel Universe in the way that every character does at some point or another, Doctor Strange found himself on the pages of The Invincible Iron Man #3 in 2015. Knowing at that point that the character would be featured in his own Marvel Cinematic Universe film and perhaps wanting to drum up interest for the character, Marvel took a note from Robert Downey Jr.’s comedic portrayal of Stark and added a throw-away line for the ages.
In the comic, Tony Stark notices that he and Doctor Strange have almost identical facial hair. Not one to let things go, Stark calls Doctor Strange his “Facial Hair Bro” and gets super excited by the coincidence. But since Doctor Strange is all business and perhaps more arrogant than Stark, Strange finds none of this amusing and wants desperately to get back to work. It’s a nice little moment reminiscent of the social awkwardness that all humans go through at some point, and it’s nice to see it happen to two heroes who have at one point or another saved the world from extinction.
8. His Catchphrase…
The less said about this the better, if only because there’s so little information on what exactly it means, how it came about, or why on earth anyone would ever say this. Seriously, it’s complete nonsense, even by Doctor Strange standards, and our only possible explanation for it is that Stan Lee was screwing with someone when he wrote it in, only for it to end up becoming a permanent part of Doctor Strange’s history. And just in case you haven’t heard the infamous Doctor Strange catchphrase, expand your mind, because here it is; “By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!”
Yeah. Exactly. There’s just no explaining it, aside from the fact that since Doctor Strange dabbles in mysticism and magic he can just say anything he wants and people will assume it means something. Forget that no one knows what a Hoary Host is or that Hoggoth isn’t really anything – even in the comics. The only good thing about this catchphrase is that it isn’t uttered in the movie, as hearing Benedict Cumberbatch struggle through this line with his “American accent” would be nothing but nightmare fuel.
7. Watched the Fantastic Four Fight in Ancient Egypt
The great thing about Doctor Strange is that since he’s tied to mysticism and magic he can essentially do anything that he wants at any time. There are no rules holding him to a particular place or time on Earth, so his adventures always have the possibility of spinning off into the realm of cool insanity. Which is exactly what happened in an issue of Doctor Strange where Baron Mordo turned into a cat and Doctor Strange had a quick visit to Ancient Egypt to watch the Fantastic Four’s big battle with Rama-Tut.
It was a cool way of showing an important battle from a different series, albeit from a different perspective. Strange’s trip to Egypt had the distinction of being really neat without being all that necessary. However, the story does tie back into the original Fantastic Four storyline and explains that Doctor Strange was responsible for The Thing briefly turning human; a key element that helped them defeat Rama-Tut. So it turned out to be a worthwhile trip after all.
6. Fought Against Dracula
During the events of Doctor Strange #59-62 the Marvel Universe was dealing with a vampire threat left over from The Tomb of Dracula series. So, teaming up with Scarlet Witch, Blade, Captain Marvel, and others, Doctor Strange and company make it their duty to rid the world of vampires once and for all. This all came after Dracula had established himself as a great threat to Doctor Strange, having battled with him on numerous occasions and coming very close to victory quite a few times.
However, after securing a book called The Darkhold, which contained a spell called The Formula which would destroy all vampires, Doctor Strange readied himself to be the savior of the world. Reciting the spell, Strange eventually succeeded and got rid of Dracula once and for all. It really seemed like the end of vampires in the Marvel Universe. However, this being the comic book world, the vampires eventually returned and Doctor Strange had to work out how to defeat his greatest foe all over again.
5. Disappeared and Became Two People: Victor Stevens and Strange
The Midnight Sons storyline in the Doctor Strange comics was technically meant to be horror, although you wouldn’t guess that based on the lame events that came out of it. Despite a great team up by writer David Quinn and artists Mel Rubi and Peter Gross, the storyline is still known for having giving the world two Doctor Strange personas, neither of which are that great; Victor Stevens and Strange.
After being punished for not getting involved in a cosmic war, Doctor Strange sees his powers stripped from him. Embarrassed and upset, Strange cooks up a scheme to get his powers back. The scheme involved making Stephen Strange disappear and two new people arrive. While Victor Stevens was an arrogant businessman, Strange was an equally arrogant person whose job was less clear, but he clearly dabbled in dark magic and made people uncomfortable. In the end Doctor Strange got his powers back and had no more need for his two alter egos, but that doesn’t mean they won’t go down in Doctor Strange history as a less successful version of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
4. Girlfriend Cheated On Him with Benjamin Franklin
Throw this one on the pile of truly unbelievable moments, because not only did this cause readers to scratch their heads, but it also resulted in the firing of the person who wrote it. It all started in Dr. Strange #1-17, where things were going swimmingly as Strange and his love interest Clea travelled through time to learn about America’s past. Coming head to head with mysticism and occultism in America, issue #18 saw Stephen Strange and Clea meet up with Benjamin Franklin.
It was all well and good – fun and educational even – until Clea went rogue and slept with Benjamin Franklin behind Strange’s back for seemingly no reason. When the issue debuted outrage at seeing one of America’s founding fathers engaging in adultery reached a fever pitch, and writer Steve Englehart was replaced by his editor Marv Wolfman. In the very next issue Wolfman made sure to undo the steamy affair and write that Benjamin Franklin was really just long-time Strange villain Stygyro in disguise.
3. Became Dr. Strangefate, A Combination of Doctor Strange, Professor X, and DC’s Dr. Fate
If you thought the 60s and 70s were a weird point in comics history than you clearly weren’t paying attention in the ’90s. And that’s okay; most people weren’t. In fact, comic readership was so low that it looked like the medium was all but ready to die out, which is why the unthinkable happened. Marvel and DC joined their universes together in the ultimate crossover event meant to drum up sales.
As soon as this happened there were huge repercussions in each comic universe, as characters that were immensely similar immediately became aware of each other’s existence. Some fought, some joined forces, and some – like Doctor Strange – became the most powerful entity in the entire Marvel DC universe. That’s because Strange became Dr. Strangefate; a result of his merging with Professor X and DC’s not so famous Dr. Fate. With a killer portmanteau for a name (not really), Dr. Strangefate was unstoppable and therefore realized that if he wanted to stay unstoppable he would need to keep the two universes merged. However, Strangefate ultimately failed (mostly due to economics and the fact that the two companies wouldn’t join forces forever) and the universes ended up separating, only to leave Doctor Strange back as Doctor Strange and no longer the single most powerful entity in the universe.
2. Becomes a Werewolf
This one takes some digging (pun half-intended) to really sniff out (pun fully intended), but the fact of the matter is that yes, Doctor Strange did at one point turn into a werewolf. You see, hot on the heels of Spider-Man fighting a werewolf, Spidey realized that the werewolf actually bore a strong resemblance to Doctor Strange. So after the Web Head defeats the wolf he brings him to Stephen Strange’s Greenwich Village home for inspection.
It’s here that Spidey doesn’t find Strange, but instead his lover/apprentice Clea, who uses the Eye of Agamotto to figure out if the werewolf is Doctor Strange. Once it’s discovered that Strange and the werewolf are one and the same (a fact that maybe could have been figured out based on how no one knew where Strange was), it’s revealed that a group of Tibetan monks had developed the werewolf curse. Strange the Werewolf eventually wakes up, smashes all sorts of things, and causes a ton of trouble before he’s eventually able to be restrained and turned back into Doctor Strange. But just because things returned to normal at the end doesn’t mean that this wasn’t one of the most fun, inventive, and weird Doctor Strange issues to ever come along.
1. He Fought God
Here we are at number one, uncovering a storyline that was so controversial that it blows a cheating Benjamin Franklin out of the water. It all started back in the 1970s when the pages of Doctor Strange were where Marvel fit in all of the weirdest stuff they could think up. And although this particular storyline featured time travel, epic world-saving battles, and a Doctor Strange / Baron Mordo team up, the main point of the story is when everything comes to a head at the origin of the universe.
Using the bible and a whole host of other Judeo-Christian references, the villain is Sise-neg, which spells Genesis backwards. By Strange and Mordo chasting Sise-neg through time and battling him to save the world, Sise-neg eventually bests our two heroes and becomes god himself. It’s here that its revealed Sise-neg created the entire Marvel universe, and it’s also here that creators Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner got into some trouble.
But, being creative comic book artists, Englehart and Brunner faked their way out of trouble and avoided a nasty controversy of portraying god as an evil wizard. They wrote a fake letter – from the perspective of a priest – and sent it to Marvel under the guise of praising the issue from a religious perspective. Marvel ended up printing the letter in the issue, and the whole weird event ended up becoming one of the cooler points of comic book history instead of a big problem fraught with protest.
Which of these strange Doctor Strange moments made you scratch your head? Would you like to see any of these show up in the MCU? Let us know in the comments!