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Comic Book / The Death of Doctor Strange

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Variant cover by Stephanie Hans

The Death of Doctor Strange is a Marvel 2021 five-issue mini-series and event about, well, the death of Doctor Strange. The main book is written by Jed MacKay, with art by Lee Garbett.

Death comes for the Sorcerer Supreme.

Doctor Stephen Strange was the world's greatest neurosurgeon and the Earth's Sorcerer Supreme, defending the world against invasions from other dimensions and supernatural threats. He has lost and regained the role several times and journeyed to the strangest of places, even met Eternity itself, but he has always been there to defend this dimension against threats of every size and shape imaginable.

And now he's dead.

Who will protect the Earth? Who will keep the supernatural evils at bay?

And who killed Doctor Strange?

Spin-offs and one-shots include:

  • Strange Academy Presents: The Death of Doctor Strange #1: Strange Academy is closed until the events surrounding Dr. Strange’s death are resolved, so the students go back to their parents. Too bad that Alvi and Iric's mother is the Enchantress. Written by Skottie Young, with art by Mike del Mundo.
  • The Death of Doctor Strange: Avengers #1: With Doctor Strange gone, the Avengers are the only ones who can stop a rampaging Juggernaut-like monster from wrecking all of Manhattan! Written by Alex Paknadel, with art by Ryan Bodenheim.
  • The Death of Doctor Strange: Spider-Man #1: Doctor Strange had a last request for Spider-Man in case of his death, but will current Spider-Man Ben Reilly be up to the task? And why is Black Cat following him? Written by Jed MacKay, with art by Marcelo Ferreira.
  • The Death of Doctor Strange: White Fox #1: In the wake of Doctor Strange’s death, a mysterious threat with dark ties to White Fox’s origin will surface to reveal shocking secrets about White Fox’s origin and change her future forever. Written by Alyssa Wong, with art by Andie Tong.
  • The Death of Doctor Strange: Blade: Written by Danny Lore.
  • The Death of Doctor Strange: X-Men / Black Knight: Written by Si Spurrier.
  • The Death of Doctor Strange: Bloodstone: Written by Trini Howard.

This storyline leads into Strange (2022), a new ongoing series in which Stephen Strange’s widow Clea inherits the title of Sorcerer Supreme and attempts to bring him back to life.

Tropes for The Death of Doctor Strange:

  • All Your Powers Combined: Strange combines his power with those of Aggamon, Tiboro, Magik and Clea in order to defeat the Three Mothers.
  • An Arm and a Leg: As part of his murder, Strange's hands have been taken from his corpse.
  • Barrier Maiden: As Stephen explains in the first issue, the primary purpose of the Sorcerer Supreme is to maintain the mystical barriers that prevent other dimensions from mounting full-scale invasions onto Earth. Once Stephen is killed, there are suddenly multiple calls of extradimensional incursions seizing large territories across the globe.
  • Because Destiny Says So: In X-Men/Black Knight, it's revealed that Excalibur and the Stone it was stuck in was actually a Sealed Evil in a Can known as The Hungry Land. However, despite Arthur begging him to put Excalibur back in the stone, Merlin refused and instead used the stone to forge the Ebony items while using a barrier to hold back The Hungry Land so he can have his perfect myth.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: The "Juggernauts" that were "rampaging" in New York seemed a bit off. They were mostly stealing construction materials and only fought when attacked by the Avengers. Turns out it wasn't an invasion. Cyttorak had fled the Crimson Dimension to another world while the Three Mothers were killing everyone there, but an illegitimate young daughter had escaped to Earth and was constructing not a palace, but a memorial for her people and a psychic beacon to warn Earth of what the Three Mothers and Peregrine Child are doing.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The threat of the Three Mothers and The Child are thwarted and the mystery of who killed Dr. Strange is solved. However, despite Strange being able to pull a Grand Theft Me, Death doesn't like a cheater like that and he's forced to cross over, leaving Clea as Earth's new Sorcerer Supreme.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • The event features the return of enemies of Dr. Strange who hadn't been seen in years; Umar (2011), Tiboro (2011) and Aggamon (1992).
    • The Big Bad of the X-Men/Black Knight issue is Necromon, who hasn't appeared since The Otherworld Saga (1980).
  • Closest Thing We Got: As a result of Spider-Man Beyond, Peter Parker is incapacitated with radiation poisoning and Ben Reilly is the active Spider-Man, which leaves Ben to respond to a message from Doctor Strange to Spider-Man to tie up a range of loose ends and local business in New York that needs attending to after his death. Felicia Hardy is present when Strange's message appears in Peter's hospital bed during Ben's visit, and joins him to help him deal with the matter, reasoning that while she doesn't consider Ben the true Spider-Man she wants to be sure that the work is complete.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Three Mothers battle the Avengers and easily hand them their asses.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Peregrine Child is responsible for the genocide of several dimensions and it's pitch black in color.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Dr. Strange's idea of taking a small part of his soul away so it can finish unfinished business is a good idea, but he never bothered to update that soul piece. Thus, this Strange is from the past, weaker and without the memories from his counterpart's time.
  • The Dreaded: The magical incursions from other dimensions in the first issue aren't invasions, they were evacuations from entities known as the Three Mothers.
  • Driving Question: Per the solicitations, the driving questions for the main book will be: who killed Doctor Strange and why?
  • Eat Me: Duplicate Strange lets himself be eaten by the Peregrine Child in order to ignite the magic from within, destroying both.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Peregrine Child and the Three Mothers are magical, unstoppable creatures with unknown origins but who were powerful enough to consume different dimensions and easily hold off Earth's superheroes.
  • Evil Is Petty: After Mephisto took Strange and Clea's memories of their relationship as part of a past deal with Strange, he restores Clea's memories after Strange's death when they will only cause her pain.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Ghost Stephen gets one courtesy of Bats the Ghost Dog in issue #4. They've grudgingly cleared Mordo and the investigation's back to square one with no leads and time running out. It's Bats who then asks the frustrated, despondent Ghost Strange a rather obvious question: Who hates both Stephen and Karl? Who would want to pit them against one another and kill two birds with one stone? Pursuing this line of inquiry allows them to figure out the culprit's actually Kaecilius.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The book is about the death of Doctor Strange.
  • Eyeless Face: The Wyrd's design shows that she has no eyes, just smooth skin where her eyes should be.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Ghost Strange was created very early on in Stephen's career as a sorcerer and superhero, so he's out of the loop on quite a few things and doesn't recognize Bats or Zelma. He also reacts with shock when he learns Clea is his wife.
  • Frame-Up: Mordo is caught red-handed with the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto at the end of issue #3. In issue 4, he insists someone planted the evidence in his castle and he's ultimately proven right. The real culprit who framed him is none other than Kaecilius.
  • From Bad to Worse: No sooner does Strange die does Captain America make a call asking for his help as Earth is suddenly under invasion.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: As monstrous as the Three Mothers are, they're just the caretakers and harbingers of the real threat, the magic-devouring Peregrine Child.
  • Heroic BSoD: Iron Man becomes deeply traumatized during his fight with the Crawling, who had poured her acid-drooling worms through his armor. After the Avengers' loss, Tony showers constantly and has his A.I. scan the armor multiple times for biological material. Later, while disarming a nuke in a swamp, Tony had a paralyzing panic attack on seeing some leeches.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Kaecilius is done in when Strange's spirit uses his magic to effectively pull a Grand Theft Me using the very hands he lopped off of Dr. Strange, allowing the Sorcerer Supreme to return to fix this problem.
  • Horns of Barbarism: The Crown's design includes a horned helmet with, of course, a small floating crown above it.
  • Magic Eater: The "Peregrine Child" that the Three Mothers serve is a legendary being capable of devouring all the magic out of a dimension. No one knows where it came from, with some theories saying it's just single piece of a higher dimensional monster whose appearance can be barely grasped.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Kaecilius framed Mordo for Stephen's murder while also depriving Mordo of the satisfaction of killing his long-time enemy in retaliation for Mordo not saving Kaecilius from the Purple Dimension despite his loyalty.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Wyrd's design shows that she has four arms.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: A big reason why the Three Mothers are so invincible, they No-Sell everything the Avengers, X-Men and everyone throw at them. Even the spell to defeat them just teleported them individually to different corners of the universe.
  • Never Found the Body: Sword-Master disappears when he's knocked into a river trying to aid White Fox. She can't find his scent or track him, but she's certain he's not dead.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: When Dagoth is about to be brought by the Mothers to the Peregrine Child, he pleads for the other warlords to help him. They simply laugh at him for believing they have any loyalty to one another, stating the only thing they're allied in is watching him be the Child's first victim.
  • Not Me This Time: When Baron Mordo drops in to find out what happened to his rival, he tells the others there he isn't the one who did so and that he's angry because whoever killed him stole his kill. The others are forced to admit this is why they believe Mordo's claims of innocence; as he himself states, if Mordo had killed his greatest enemy, he'd be happily gloating about it to the universe.
  • Oh, and X Dies: Much like The Death of Captain America, the readers are spoiled that Doctor Strange will die before the book is even released, but the book itself is about the aftermath of his death, per solicitations. Like Death of Wolverine, the readers still don't know how or why he dies and, again per the solicitations, the other characters will be investigating the mystery of who killed Doctor Strange and why.
  • One Bad Mother: The Big Bad Triumvirate of this event is a trinity of powerful, mystical entities collectively known as the Three Mothers. They are pleased to arrive on Earth and find an abundance of magic to feed to their "Child".
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Mordo is pissed somebody other than him killed Strange, thus depriving him of the satisfaction of ending his hated foe. This was intentional on Kaecilius's part.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: This is what ultimately and very grudgingly convinces Ghost Stephen in issue #4 that Mordo is innocent and has been framed: Because Mordo, at magical gunpoint and about to die at the hands of Strange and his allies, is still denying he did the deed. With his pride and ego, and knowing he's not getting out of this one alive, Karl should be crowing about the deed with his last breath instead of still denying it.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Upon realizing Baron Mordo swiped the Eye of Agamotto and the Cape of Levitation, the spirit of Doctor Strange, Clea and Wong hunt him down, the former vowing to kill Mordo once and for all.
  • The Reveal:
    • Issue #4 reveals The Dread Warlords and Kaecilius are responsible for Stephen's death. The Warlords, fleeing the Peregrine Child, needed the mystical barriers protecting Earth dropped to make their last stand. As they were in a hurry, that meant killing the Sorcerer Supreme...which Kaecilius was happy to do and to try and frame his old master in the bargain.
    • The X-Men/Black Knight special reveals that the Ebony Blade was forged from the rock that once held Arthur's sword Excalibur.
    • The X-Men/Black Knight special also reveals that Dane's daughter Jackie Chopra is a mutant.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In issue 2, we find out that the invasions on Earth are not invasions, but those from those realms escaping the Three Mothers. As well, Baron Mordo teleports away as soon as the three arrive.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: An interesting inversion. Issue 3 reveals that the otherworldly invasions aren’t invasions at all: they’re taking up places on Earth so that when the Three Mothers invade, the Avengers, the X-Men, and other teams can take care of them.
  • The Weird Sisters: Per Marvel, this book will introduce a new team of supernatural villains, the Three Mothers: the Wyrd, the Crown, and the Crawling.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: In case of Schrodenger's Corpse, Dr. Strange is dead and not dead - he tucked away a portion of his soul just in case he died, this one being from all the way back in his first appearance. This one needs to help in solving "his" death and saving Earth from the invasions.
  • The Worm That Walks: Per Marvel and the character's design, the Crawling is "a monstress composed of acid-mouthed worms."
  • Worlds Greatest Warrior: The Crown is a being in that category, having easily defeated Thor (who's one of the universe's greatest warriors) in single combat.
  • Wrecked Weapon: In White Fox, Sword Master has his magical sword shattered in battle, the demon who broke it telling him that his uncertainty in using such a weapon was what made it so weak. His attempts to fix this will be the first arc in his stint as the new Iron Fist.
  • The X of Y: The Death of Doctor Strange.