Sorcerer Supreme, Master of the Mystic Arts, Master of Black Magic – Doctor Strange was created by the legendary Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963, first appearing in Strange Tales # 110. After permanently damaging his hands in a devastating car wreck, Stephen Strange seeks healing from any sort of place, venturing the world for anything that will help him regain the use of his hands. This journey leads to a magical being known as the Ancient One, where Stephen learns the ways of magic and the mystical arts.
After coming back to New York, Dr. Strange sets up his base, the Sanctum Santorum, and begins to handle all mystical, magical, and weird threats in the Marvel Universe. The highly-anticipated upcoming sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessis set to premiere May 6th in the United States, and it’s even directed by Sam Raimi (who did the original Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy). What better way to honor the Sorcerer Supreme than list his best comic book villains?
A terrifying, demonic entity, thought to be Marvel Comics’ equivalent of the Devil, Mephisto first appeared in The Silver Surfer # 3 in 1968. Created by Stan Lee and John Buscema, Mephisto is responsible for some of the most controversial moments in Marvel Comics lore (including the dreaded Spider-Man: One More Day storyline). Mostly a recurring villain for both Dr. Strange and Ghost Rider, including a time when both heroes had to rescue the soul of Dr. Doom’s wife after it was taken by Mephisto, the character is one of the more sinister, hitting close to the heart for most heroes.
5 Baron Mordo
Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Baron Karl Mordo first appeared in Strange Tales # 111. After Mordo’s plot to kill the Ancient One was stopped by Stephen Strange, he became one of the Sorcerer Supreme’s villains, even working with Dormammu at certain points in canon. A Voldemort-esque character, Mordo’s skills with magic extend to black magic, magical manipulation, astral projection, and a deep knowledge of magic’s lore in Marvel canon. The character was last seen in the Marvel Comics event, The Death of Doctor Strangewhere he was accused of killing the Master of the Mystic Arts.
4 Mister Misery
A being of nightmares, and possibly the most horrific rogue in Dr. Strange’s gallery, Mister Misery (also known as “The thing in the cellar”) first appeared in Doctor Strange # 8 by Jason Aaron. What makes Mister Misery a different kind of villain for Strange, is the fact Mister Misery was actually created by Dr. Strange himself. Across most popular fantasy literature, the saying “magic always has a price” is heavily used, and when that price is not paid, bad things happen. Mister Misery is a byproduct of Dr. Strange not paying the magical toll.
To prevent the suffering that would come from his spells, Wong (Strange’s assistant) took the pain from the incantations created by Strange, and sent them to the cellar of the Sanctum Sanctorum. This repeated process led to the creation of Mister Misery, a being who suffers the toll for magic that Stephen Strange did not.
First appearing in Marvel Premiere # 10 from 1973 (and recently in the What If? … series), and one of the confirmed villains for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Shuma Gorath is one of four, undying “multi-angled” ones (a race of deities from the Cthulhu stories by HP Lovecraft) that exist in the Marvel Universe. One of Strange’s most intimidating villains, it is said that Gorath is more powerful than both Satannish and Mephisto, with a set of skills consisting of sympathetic magic, reality-altering, shape-shifting, and more. Due to licensing issues, Marvel Studios cannot use the name “Shuma-Gorath” in Doctor Strange 2. Heroic Signatures own the rights to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerianthe stories in which the name “Shuma-Gorath” originates.
First appearing in Strange Tales # 10, Nightmare and his power set are very much Freddy Krueger-esque (though Nightmare did appear before Wes Craven’s pocket-faced creation), but on a whole other level. Ruler of the Dream Dimension, and one of the horrific Fear Lords, Nightmare has the power to capture a sleeping person’s astral form and bring it to the dream dimension, where they can be tortured for his own twisted means. Rumored and heavily theorized to be one of, if not the main, villains planned in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessthe character was last seen in writer Gerry Duggan’s Savage Avengers # 22.
The villain of the first Doctor Strange film, and a participant in one of the most quotable dialogue exchanges in any Marvel movie (“DormammuI’ve come to bargain! “), Dormammu first appeared Strange Tales # 126, which was released in 1964. The Lord of the Dark Dimension, Dormammu is widely considered to be Dr. Strange’s main villain and arch enemy. With a power set including matter manipulation, possession, necromancy, and much more, Dormammu is one of the more terrifying villains in Marvel canon. The character was last seen in comics as one of the starring villains in the Guardians of the Galaxy crossover event, The Last Annihilation.
Of course, Dr. Strange has a much deeper rogues’ gallery than the five villains listed above. Nonetheless, these are the ones that stand the test of time and have cemented themselves as Strange’s best villains. Hopefully, these Marvel characters might appear in MCU projects in the future, and possible Doctor Strange movies and sequels, if not Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
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