|"New Avengers" #51 on sale in March|
For years, one man stood vigilant and safeguarded the Marvel Universe from malevolent magical forces. His name is Doctor Strange, and he was Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, but a series of unfortunate events and lapses in judgment caused him to lose the title. Fans are of course wondering who will be crowned the new Sorcerer Supreme of the Earth dimension and what Stephen Strange will have to say about it, and they'll get their answer in a new storyline that kicks off in “New Avengers” #51, written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated Billy Tan and Chris Bachalo.
When Doctor Strange lost the title of Sorcerer Supreme in last year's “New Avengers Annual,” Bendis thought he had finished chronicling the adventures of Stephen Strange and was ready to hand the story off to someone else. Some writers attempted to continue Strange’s odyssey, but nothing stuck to the wall.
“I was scared and a little bummed that this storyline about who Stephen Strange is now, what he’s doing now that he’s not the Sorcerer Supreme, and who the new Sorcerer Supreme is since there has to be one, would disappear or lose some of the oomph it had,” Bendis told CBR. “So I said, ‘If no one is going to do anything about this, then when I’m done with ‘Secret Invasion’ I’ll take it back. I waited until the last minute and no one got anything going, so I gleefully grabbed it back because I was really dying to do this story. I was just trying to not horde all the toys. I didn’t want to be the guy who says, ‘Don’t touch Doctor Strange till I get back.' I don’t like to do that. I also thought this would be a great arc for the character.”
To tide you over until March’s “New Avengers” #51, CBR gathered up a list of likely candidates and spoke with Bendis and his editor Tom Brevoort about whether these characters have what it takes to be the next Sorcerer Supreme. Place your bets!
Throughout his career, Doctor Strange has ventured to the otherworldly Dark Dimension, usually to foil the schemes of two of his greatest foes, The Dread Dormammu and Umar. The Dark Dimension is also home to one of Strange’s greatest allies, the powerful sorceress known as Clea.
Bendis: Clea is the mistress of the Dark Dimension and she’s Strange’s ex-girlfriend/wife. She was trained by Strange, right there in his home. She was his prized pupil. She was to Strange what he was to the Ancient One [Strange’s instructor in the mystic arts]. But as Mistress of the Dark Dimension she hasn’t been on this plane of existence a lot lately. And who’s going to take her serious in those pants?
One of the reasons McKnee trained to become a wizard was that he wanted to claim the title of Sorcerer Supreme. At a young age, he challenged Doctor Strange for the title and lost, but that didn't discourage his further exploration of the mystic arts. In the recent “Mystic Arcana” miniseries, McKnee undertook a quest that saw him successfully protect the very nature of magic itself from the corrupting force of the Elder God Chthon.
Brevoort: Ian’s a dark horse candidate, to be sure. But he’s a young and vibrant character, and that would be kind of a cool change from the sort of Sorcerer Supreme we’ve seen for the past six-hundred years. What he’s got going against him is that virtually nobody knows who he is.
Stephen Strange was not the Ancient One’s only pupil. When Strange first encountered him, the Ancient One had another student, Karl Amadeus Mordo, who was exiled after Strange exposed his plot to kill the Ancient One. Mordo would go on to become one of Strange’s arch-enemies, and his skills in sorcery and black magic made him one of the good Doctor’s deadliest foes.
Bendis: Mordo is another fantastic candidate for Sorcerer Supreme because of his level of training, powers, and abilities. The negative thing about him would be his character! He’s not the nicest guy. He’s not a very pleasant, caring, or giving person. And he’s not as meditative as Stephen Strange was.
While most girls her age were out having fun, Jennifer had her mind on saving the world. She learned the mystic arts as a pupil of Dakimh the Enchanter, who had been a practicing sorcerer since before Atlantis sank beneath the waves. As Dakimh's student and a companion of the Man-Thing, Jennifer foiled several demonic plots to take over Earth. She was seen most recently in “Marvel Zombies 3” as a member of Florida's superteam, The Command.
Brevoort: She’d have to live down the metal bikini she sported for most of the ‘70s and ‘80s, but Jennifer’s got the background and the pedigree, she’d bring a different perspective to the role. And she’s a friend of the Man-Thing, so she’s got that going for her.
While Doctor Doom is known for his scientific acumen, he also possesses some mystical ability as well. Several years ago, Doom enlisted the aid of demons to attack the Fantastic Four, and he also accompanied Doctor Strange on a mission to the infernal realm of the demon Mephisto, where they rescued the trapped soul of Doom’s mother.
Bendis: Doom is another great one. He’s clearly learned in the Mystic Arts and as we’ve shown in ‘Mighty Avengers,’ he’s been traveling the timestream, picking up ancient secrets that even Doctor Strange may not know. Things that have disappeared during other time periods and civilizations. Bendis.
As for what’s counting against him -- well, he is Doctor Doom.
Like Stephen Strange, Jericho Drumm – a.k.a. Brother Voodoo -- has a medical degree. After spending years as a practicing psychiatrist in the U.S., Drumm returned to his native Haiti, where he discovered his that twin brother Daniel was dying. Daniel was a Voodoo priest known as a Houngan who had been struck down by an evil sorcerer. His dying wish was that Jericho learn Voodoo from his mentor and take up his fight against evil and darkness. Jericho agreed and came to possess a greater knowledge of the Voodoo arts then even his brother. Upon finishing his training, a mystic rite was performed that summoned Daniel's spirit and joined it with Jericho's. Thus Brother Voodoo, a man who would go onto become Haiti's Houngan Supreme, was born.
Brevoort: Brother Voodoo has been something of a joke character for a long time now, but when you get past the goofy rep this guy’s had built up around him for so long, you find that he’s got some actual skills and an interesting background. And he comes from a cultural tradition of legitimate magic, which would be an interesting background to draw upon. What he’s got in the negative column is the fact that he’s been a joke character for so long that it might be a very tough sell.
As a young girl, Illyana was abducted by Belasco, the demonic lord of an infernal realm known as Limbo. While there, she was instructed in the arts of black magic by Belasco himself, but she was also taught the use of white magic by an alternate reality version of Storm of the X-Men. Consequently, Illyana's sorcery skills were always more powerful while in Limbo, but it's quite possible her recent resurrection by Belasco had an effect on her aptitude with the mystic arts.
Bendis: Illyana is also a really good candidate. She's a big part of the current “X-Infernus” miniseries and there's a lot going on with her this year. I also think at this point she's a pretty iconic mystical character in the Marvel Universe. Hurting her chances is probably the fact that “Illyana Rasputin: Master of the Mystic Arts” would make for the worst logo in comic book history.
Wanda Maximoff was one of the most powerful mutants on Earth. In “House of M,” her reality warping ability allowed her to create an entirely new reality and eliminate the abilities of most of Earth's mutant population. Wanda’s lived a very quiet life since that day, and it's unclear whether she even still possesses her mutant ability. But in “Mighty Avengers” #21, Wanda seemed to make a return to life as a costumed hero. She also appeared to be skilled in a number of mystical abilities, like astral projection and teleportation. Has the Scarlet Witch replaced her mutant abilities with mystical powers?
Brevoort: Wanda would seem to be the odds-on favorite to assume the mantle, given how large she's loomed since “Avengers Disassembled.” Going against her, of course, is the fact that her powers drove her crazy, which is hardly a qualification for becoming Sorcerer Supreme.