Monday, December 8, 2008

DR. STRANGE - R.I.P.
-or-
WHO will be the NEXT
SORCERER SUPREME?

As the subject of one of my posts on Friday (no, not the belly-dancing Scarlet Witch video - the other post), I tossed up a pic of the cover to New Avengers # 51, upon which, Doctor Strange is shown mystically conjuring forth the images of the most prominent magic-users currently active.

I'll include the pic here, as well.




Ostensibly, this is to address the fact that during most of his recent appearances, Doc has been shown to not be living up to his responsibilities as Earth's Sorcerer Supreme, and that, now that he has deposed himself of the title, that a replacement will have to take his place.

This isn't a recent development or random turn of events, instead having been planned for quite some time.

This scene from New Avengers # 34 lays it all out quite clearly.

Dr. Strange : Foreshadower Supreme
New Avengers # 34 (Brian Michael Bendis - words / Leinil Francis Yu - images)


Strange, explaining to Iron Fist that titles and abilities such as theirs are passed on to newer successors, just as they, in their time, had inherited their mantles.

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Now, with Doctor Strange trying to deal with his fractured hands (incurred during an incident with the Hulk), and dealing with the mess he's made by using darker magicks (resulting from his ingesting the essence of the demonic entity; ZOM) which of those candidates will be the NEXT Sorcerer Supreme?

On the cover are the following candidates...

I'll address them in order of (my thoughts of) their potential (and you'll soon see that I obviously have no business as a bookie, since I don't have a clue about how odds really work):

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- Ghost Rider :
(demon / angel / force of divine retribution)
Kinda busy right now with a war against Heaven and Hell.
More of an "entity" or "force of nature" than a practicing magic-user.
Odds - 2,000 : 1


- Magik :
(looking far more human on that cover than she presently does in X-Infernus - as I've shown her here)
While primarily an "X-Men" character, Illyana Rasputin's rulership of Limbo has expanded out to individual mini-series'. Still, they're usually "X"-related. She's not going to be lining up for a gig as the Earth's protector any time soon.
Odds - 1,000 : 1


- Hellfire * :
(grandson of the Phantom Rider & member of Nick Fury's Secret Warriors)
a Bendis toy, but he'll be sequestered in the new "spy book" and won't have much time for duking it out with Nightmare. Not much of a mystic, really, as far as I can tell at this early stage. He can enchant a chain with mystical fire, but thus far, that's pretty much "it". Still, Bendis might want to give one of his toys some "cred", so I'll hedge it a little.
Odds - 90 : 1

* although, I wonder if who was supposed to be drawn wasn't:

- Druid :
(Dr. Druid's son - also a member of Nick Fury's Secret Warriors)
even though he's not on the N.A. cover (he really SHOULD be) he is the son of Dr. Druid, and does have daddy's innate magical abilities.
He might make a good selection of apprentice, but not to get the big-boy pants.
And, again... Bendis' toy.
Odds - 50 : 1

- Clea :
(not seen since the ORDER and a cameo in WITCHES)
Even though we have seen neither purple leotards, nor silver tresses anywhere in the past several years, AND the fact that Doc was last seen performing "tantric" magic with NIGHT NURSE instead, it isn't beyond the realm of posibility that Clea might make an appearance. If Dormammu is around, can CLEA be far behind? Still, for her to pop up out of nowhere to have bestowed upon her a title of which she has no true claim, would be bad deus ex machina writing... even for Bendis.
Odds - 30 : 1

- Dormammu :
(ubiquitous in many Marvel books as of late)
You're scoffing at this, aren't you? Well... yeah. However, it's not out of the realm of possibility. One doesn't HAVE to be good to be Sorcerer Supreme. There have been evil holder's of that title. (The evil sorceress; Salome' held the rank long before the Ancient One.) All that's required is for Dormammu to set foot on Earth and for Doctor Strange to be out of commission.
Seeing as how Bendis (may have) introduced the way for Dormammu to gain entry (via the HOOD), it might not be so laughable after all. Still, a long-shot. But there's that BENDIS factor...
Odds - 25 : 1


- Brother Voodoo :
(recently seen in the pages of New Avengers acting as Tony Stark's mystical bloodhound)
Haiti's "Houngan Supreme". While he was recently used by the Goverment's forces to investigate the supposedly "empty" Sanctum Sanctorum, he told Iron Man that he was unable to detect if Strange and the Avengers were hiding inside.
At least...that's what he TOLD Stark. He MAY have detected the fugitives and just kept it to himself.
Still, while he DID take up the role in a "What IF?" story (as pictured), he doesn't quite have the chops to be the head honcho of the Mystic realms.
Odds - 20 : 1


- Scarlet Witch :
This is a toughie. She's been out of the picture since "House of M" ended (except for an appearance as an amnesiac naif atop Wundergore mountain getting the "shaft" from Hawkeye)... but ... BENDIS!!!!
It would make sense for him to sew this kind of CHAOS (get it?) for the "Dark Reign".
And.....
*****SPOILER*****
(she IS coming back soon - in Mighty Avengers)
Odds - 10 : 1

- The Hood :
(possessor of a cloak that is occupied by a demon who claims to be Dormammu)
First, let me be the first to say that if Dormammu is TRULY the force behind the demon in the hood, it smacks of Bendisian-temerity!
In every appearance that the "demon" would emerge from the hood, it was shown to have techno-gears and tubes and apparatus sticking out all over the place.
Nothing has ever been shown to suggest that any dweller of the Dark Dimension need apparatus of any sort. It could be that the demon is pulling the "wool" (of his hood) over the eyes of the street tough "Kingpin".
Still, he is Bendis' shiny new (borrowed) toy, and as such, would be a high runner for the title. Especially if he gains extra abilities via Dormammu.
Odds - 5 : 1


- Dr. Doom :
(recently seen journeying to the past to gain secrets of magic from Morgan le Fey)

And...for reasons that I will lay out below...
Odds - 2 : 1

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If there's any justice in the "616" world... as anyone who has read
"Doctor Strange / Doctor Doom : Triumph & Torment"
will tell you, the runner-up for title of Sorcerer Supreme (as granted BY the VISHANTI themselves) was Victor Von Doom!

Every 100 years, the Aged Ghengis summons all the world's preeminent mystics and sorcerers and they all compete, in a contest sponsored by the Vishanti, for the "official" title of Sorcerer Supreme.

However, the contest is NOT a prerequisite for someone to GAIN and HOLD the title. Doctor Strange inherited the mantle with the passing of the Ancient One. The evil Sorceress; Salome' was able to reclaim the title - temporarily- while Doctor Strange was at his weakest and abdicated the position. HE would then regain it, by defeating - and banishing Salome'. The contest, however, is "THE" final arbiter of who deserves the position and title, but it only occurs once every century.

In the last such contest (as related in the aforementioned : "Triumph and Torment") the winner was Doctor Strange. The ONLY other contestant to "survive" the ordeal (but immobilized by Strange) was Doctor Doom.

As such, Doom gained a boon from Strange (I won't give it away for anyone who hasn't read it... and WHY HAVEN'T YOU?!?).
It also, dictates that while Strange won (and earned) the title, Doom was runner-up.
(although, since Doom truly only wanted the boon, did he come in 2nd on purpose? If the ends justify the means, would he allow himself to be "beaten"?)

As shown here in these pages from that original graphic novel, we are shown that these two powerful men , Stephen Strange and Victor Von Doom, were on similar, yet divergent, paths.
Paths that would inevitably cross.

Strange at the end of his studies, Doom having yet to begin his.

All the mystics gather for the trial.

Doom shows his Diplomatic side.

The Vishanti!

After the epic battle, and Strange is declared the winner...

...Doom gets what he truly wanted all along.

All from Doctor Strange / Doctor Doom : Triumph & Torment
Words - Roger Stern, Art - Mike Mignola (pencils) Mark Badger (inks)
(I won't spoil it - even though it's nearly 20 years old. Go read it if you haven't already.)

Of course, Doom "cheats", by having his armor "record" and "play back" via automated mimicry, the spell-stances of Strange and the other mystics. However, his natural aptitude more than makes up for his lack of experience.

Not to dismiss the fact that Doom had been battling Mephisto every October 31st, for many years (for the fate of the soul of Cynthia Von Doom; his mother, who had sold her soul for the power to protect her people).

Add to this, the fact that Doom has been employing sorcery MUCH more often than he had ever
previously.

Fantastic Four # 497 - 500 showed him using dark sorceries while wearing a suit of magical "skin" armor (the flesh of his first love). While in this stage of his mystical practice, he was able to successfully take Doctor Strange by surprise and incapacitate him so as to better attack the FF.


From Fantastic Four # 497 - 500
Mark Waid - writer / Mike Weiringo - artist



More recently, as I mentioned above, Doom has been studying from Morgan Le Fey and while in a pitched battle with the New Avengers, was able to spank Iron Man, and conjure the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, while saying;
"I have learned so MUCH since last we battled".

Mighty Avengers # 9
Brian Bendis -words / Mark Bagley - art


So, with that in mind (and the fact that "Dark Reign"is all about the baddies running the show)... it seems to me that the new Sorcerer Supreme would most likely be: Doctor Doom.
(however, it's not a sure thing - obviously. It might be too obvious.)

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There ARE a few OTHER characters / entities who MAY be eligible for the title.
Chief among them are:

- Ian McNee
(upstart who once challenged Dr. Strange for the title, and has since become an acolyte of Oshtur of the Vishanti)
Too obscure for the M.U. at this time. He'll come into his own eventually in the Mystical Wars storyline (long alluded to in many of the titles written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa) that should be coming within the next few years.

- Baron Mordo
(long-time rival/foe of Doctor Strange and former pupil of the Ancient One)
Mordo is in a weird limbo now. He had seemingly died at the end of Doc's last series (by cancer), but was seemingly resurrected via time-warp manipulation when Doctor Strange aided Spider-Man and the rest of the Earth's heroes against Dormammu in Times Square (Amazing Spider-Man # 500). That return from the dead was to have been a means to bring Strange back to the past in order to "change" his origins (for the JMS mini-series; "Strange"). However, the mini-series sucked ass on ice and was promptly (and thankfully) forgotten and left out of canon. So, to this end, Mordo's return is also seemingly forgotten.
He is to appear in an upcoming issue of HULK. However, if he is taken out of the time-stream for that appearance is unknown.

- Daimon Hellstrom
(Son of Satan / Hellstorm)
More than powerful enough, but not quite a sorcerer. However, as shown in the mini-series "Last Defenders" it seems that Daimon had approached the Ancient One for tutorship before Strange made his journey to Tibet. The Ancient One had seemingly said that such a role was not to be his.

- Wiccan
("Son" of the Scarlet Witch and member of the "Young Avengers")
Powerful and popular (in terms of: as a character) but not ready for such a leap.
Would make a BORING Sorcerer Supreme because his "spells" are nothing more than him repeating (in plain English) what he wants to happen; IWannaEasterEgg...IWannaEasterEgg...IWannaEasterEgg..." ZAM! Easter Egg (who is not Elmer J. Fudd painted up as one - dear Heavens - WHO is going to get THAT reference?) appears.
...yawn...
Although, even THAT is infinitely more preferable than Bendis' ("Wait, you want me to put THOUGHT into spells?") weird made-up "latinesque" spell-speak; "Zenyatta Mondatta, Bananarama!"

- Sister Grimm
(member of the "Runaways")
Powerful (and also, a popular character), but also nowhere near ready for such a responsibility.
Add to that the fact that her primary source of magic is the "Staff of One"; a mystic item that emerges from her body (her chestial region) whenever she gets cut or bleeds.
So... unless she's already being beaten-on or is menstruating (...er...probably not, huh? ...OR is she a self-cutter? That would NOT be a very positive role model for kids), she's kinda useless. Hot, (I DO dig the Goth Chix), but useless.


- Rintrah
(former apprentice / disciple of Doctor Strange)
In a magically induced coma-state (quasi-dead) and awaiting a time to be brought back.

***EDIT***
There is some contention about the status of Rintrah, and while I don't claim to be 100% correct in my belief or theory of this, I will state that as very accurately expounded upon by the eminent Doctor Strange font-of-knowledge; neilalien, HERE, for all intents and purposes, Rintrah is, by strict definition: Deceased.
I will elaborate my own thought processes on this subject in an article this weekend (HERE).
However, there ARE some "facts" to support my theory, and as such, I will present them in that later posting.
Still, having a blog is to have some responsibility to those who may come here seeking 100% accurate information (for whatever purposes) and as such, my slim theory has no place as "fact", and I retract it as such.

Not powerful enough - and not enough time - for a resurrection and claim of the title.
(And was MUCH cooler when he was a hairy demon... before they changed him to a pseudo-minotaur version of Inspector Clouseau. - y'know... because of all the disguises and the bumbling and whatnot.)

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So... WHAT IF DOCTOR DOOM were to become the SORCERER SUPREME?

What If? v2 # 52
(Dan Slott (Script) /
Manny Galan (Pencils) )


What If?... Indeed?

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Of course, I'm not sure if ANYone even remembers that I titled this piece "Dr. Strange; R.I.P."...
that like the recent Batman arc of a similar name
(that I have not read, but have been informed that it is about the permanence of the mantle), it might ALL be a matter of having it be shown that NO ONE can really take the title long from Doctor Strange, even if someone else were to have the title temporarily.

7 comments:

plok said...

Obviously, you forgot the three most serious contenders:

Spider-Woman, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones.

And I really CANNOT BELIEVE the Scarlet Witch is coming back...except it's Bendis, and there really is nothing he won't do.

Also, it nearly causes me physical pain to see Doc written poorly. Why can't anyone write him properly, these days? What in the world is so hard about that? Sheesh.

Lightning Strike said...

Great article and very info and fact laden. well done!

H said...

I'll second Lightning Strike - I really enjoyed reading your entry even though I have been a stranger to Marvel in the Bendis era.

~P~ said...

Plok,

Actually, if Bendis could do so (and please, no one suggest it) - he would make those three into the mysterious "Tribunal" that told the Defenders that they should no longer act as a team, lest the end of the world occur.

I can see the scene from that long-ago issue (#125?) revisited and in one of his usual "fill-in-the-behind-the-scenes" moments, after Doc, Surfer, Hulk & Namor depart, the Bendis-trinity would emerge from the shadows:

Luke: "Sweet Christmas! They BOUGHT IT!"

Jessica Jones: "F#@$%. Are they F#@$%ing dumb or F#@$%ing WHAT?!"

Spider-Woman : "They couldn't help but do what we asked. My pheromones made sure of that."

Then, as Cage and Jones start to hump in the corner, Spider-Woman has an 'aside'; revealing herself to be a Skrull:

Skruller-Woman: "Fools! The only reason I aided these two rutting cows was to disband the ONE superhuman team that could have prevented the Skrull Invasion that is to come. Our... SECRET Invasion. hahahahHAHAHAHAHAhahahahaha!"

-----

Yup. That's what he'd do all right.

:-)

~P~

~P~ said...

LightningStrike & H,

Glad you liked it.
(I actually added a little to it at the end after you left your nice comments - the info on Wiccan, Sister Grimm & Rintrah-, since it seems that some of it got cut out during the "cut & paste" process.)

Feel free to come on back for more every now and again.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Doom as Sorcerer Supreme has many, many excellent possibilities. Oh yes. One could do a great many things with "Doctor Doom, Sorcerer Supreme."

Fyriel said...

Ugh, I wish they would get this storyline over with so we can have Dr. Strange back. Anywaaay, I enjoyed the post! ;D

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