JULY 13, 1963
Master of Black Magic, The Master of the Mystic Arts, The Sorcerer Supreme-whatever you want to call him, Doctor Strange turns 51 today.
Created by Steve Ditko during the most formative years at Marvel, Doctor Strange became the first comic book character to have a cult following. Never selling nearly as many copies as Ditko’s other famous creation, Spider-Man, he nevertheless found a niche in college students, those who practiced eastern philosophy and those who used drugs recreationally.
Strange was inspired by Chandu the Magician, a radio program from the 30s, which had similar ties to mysticism and the far East. The main character had a very similar power set to Strange, including astral projection, teleportation and conjuring images.
However Ditko’s Dr. Stephen Strange started off as a successful, yet arrogant surgeon, who damages his hands in a car accident. While looking for a cure to restore his gifted hands, he looses his fortune but gains humility and learns the ways of the mystic arts from Earth’s then Sorcerer Supreme, The Ancient One. With the help of mystic artifacts like the Eye of Agamotto, Doctor Strange kept the forces of evil at bay.
Ditko, who himself plotted most of the issues himself as was the Marvel Method, introduced a lot of really bizarre concepts into the early Doctor Strange stories. For instance his creation Eternity, the sentient embodiment of the universe, appears as a physical being made up of the cosmos. Just really trippy stuff. Those early Strange books, along with Fantastic Four and Thor, laid the foundation for Cosmic Marvel.
Doctor Strange would go on to be a powerful ally for good in the Marvel Universe. He founded the super hero team The Defenders and he’s helped save the world more than once. He also happens to be one of my personal favorite super heroes.
So Happy anniversary, Doc, and thank you Steve Ditko!
Why not celebrate by reading some great Doctor Strange stories.