Warning: SPOILERS for Doctor Strange #17
The most controversial and publicly-hated Spider-Man story, "One More Day," has just been repeated by Marvel Comics. Only this time, it's Doctor Strange. who has been forced to give up the love of his life in a deal with the Devil. So, will comic fans feel the same way this time around?
The hero at the center of the story has changed, but the core concept remains the same: a deal with Mephisto, and a debt that can only be paid by sacrificing what is most dear to the heart. Sure, Doctor Strange's ex-wife may not be the famous and beloved character that Mary Jane Watson was when Marvel dropped this twist the first time. But that may actually make the new version a bit more tragic... since their romance is erased just as Clea admits her love story with Stephen Strange may not be over, after all.
In the pages of the Amazing Spider-Man, readers were forced to witness Peter Parker make a deal with Mephisto to save Aunt May, who was on her death bed. Mephisto agreed to help save Peter's aunt, but in exchange he demanded Peter and MJ's relationship. The couple eventually agreed to sacrifice their relationship--wiping it from memory--and May was saved. The effects of the story were long lasting, leading some to spin theories to explain how "One More Day" could somehow make sense (as anything but a massive mistake).
In the pages of Doctor Strange, Galactus recently consumed a strange planet, embodying him with new forms of magic--eventually revealed to be part of a much larger plan orchestrated by Strange's old foe, Dormammu. The goal was to make Galactus into a new kind of 'eater of worlds and magic' so that Dormammu could take the position of Galactus's new herald. His time in the post proved to be short lived, as his plan to take over the cosmic consumer was turned against him, being swallowed up by Galactus instead.
Before being consumed, Dormammu let slip that he was working with Mephisto, the Marvel Universe's version of the Devil (admittedly a more familiar figure to Strange than he ever was to Spider-Man). When Doctor Strange went in search of Mephisto, he found his ex-wife Clea being held hostage. In order to save her, Doctor Strange agrees to a deal, dangerously repeating Peter's earlier mistake. But with the universe and Clea on the line, he has no choice. By the end of the story, Doctor Strange destroys Galactus with a magical mace and restores reality. He believes that everything is back to normal... but when you're in debt to Mephisto, happy endings are never what they seem.
No sooner has Stephen Strange righted all of reality than he is yanked clear out of it, and into Hell. Mephisto says he can't let him leave wiouth first honoring his commitment. Magic always comes at a cost, after all, and Mephisto decrees that cost is nothing Doctor Strange would give up freely. As was exactly the case with Peter Parker, it is his true love that must be traded, erasing his and Clea's relationship. Typical Mephisto.
Threatening to end the relationship himself, Doctor Strange agrees to finish the task and their bargain along with it. Traveling to find Clea alive and well, he asks her if there might be a chance of one day rekindling their past love (now that he realizes what a fool he was to lose it in the first place). She answers "yes"... making Doctor Strange's need to wipe himself from her memory even more heart-wrenching. Will the story to follow make up for Marvel inexplicably repeating what most consider Marvel's worst change to status quo ever? Only time will tell.
Doctor Strange #17 is available now from your local comic book shop, and direct from Marvel Comics.