Writer Jason Aaron reflects back on his run with the Sorcerer Supreme!

We find ourselves at the end of an era, folks. Just as Stephen Strange once faced The Last Days of Magic, writer Jason Aaron finds himself fast approaching the final installment of his nearly two-year run on DOCTOR STRANGE with issue #20 coming May 17. No need to worry, though, because the MIGHTY THOR writer says he has more plans in store for the Sorcerer Supreme.

Jason worked some of his magic on us to deliver a few poignant thoughts on a comic that means a lot to him and the Marvel Universe. Prepare for things to get strange—well, stranger than usual anyway.

Marvel.com: You’ve been writing DOCTOR STRANGE for nearly two years. What has been your favorite part about writing for Stephen Strange? Put another way: What was been the most magical part?

Jason Aaron: I think to me, the most important part coming in was just making the book fun. DOCTOR STRANGE as a series is one that didn’t always catch on. We hadn’t had a solo DOCTOR STRANGE ongoing in a quite a while so the character is sometimes hard for people to connect with or relate to and his world maybe seems so different compared to the rest of the Marvel Universe and maybe a little impenetrable. So I wanted it to be welcoming to people who’d never read a STRANGE book before, but also at the same time, something that could be embraced by the longtime fans of the character and as part of that, I wanted to make it fun to hang out with Stephen Strange and embrace the fact that he is very different from the all the rest of the heroes of the Marvel Universe; I did want to give a weight to what Strange goes through and let you understand a little bit about what it’s like to be him and the price he has to pay to be the Sorcerer Supreme. It’s not like Cap throwing a shield or Thor throwing a hammer. There’s a real price to be paid every time Doctor Strange uses magic. Sometimes that’s a price that’s paid by other people, by the world at large, but most often that’s the price that’s paid by him. So I think we demonstrated that in a lot of different ways and just how difficult it is to be the Sorcerer Supreme. I like kind of that dichotomy and the fact that Doctor Strange seems to be having a good time, the guy even embraces the weirdest little corner of the Marvel Universe, but at the same time, you don’t really wanna be Doctor Strange. It’s not a fun gig.

Marvel.com: Which character, hero or villain, have you most identified with and why?

Jason Aaron: I think it was nice to add a character like Zelma [the librarian] to the mix, someone who came into Strange’s world with fresh eyes, someone who didn’t really even believe in magic before that and certainly didn’t embrace the weirdness in a way that Strange does so I liked seeing [the weirdness] through her eyes and seeing how that experience has changed her along the way, which we really drive that point home in the last issue, issue #20.

Marvel.com: Under your direction, Stephen went from the top of his game as a Sorcerer Supreme to seeing magic die off. Can you discuss the process of crafting this roller coaster-esque odyssey for such a unique character and the challenges therein?

Jason Aaron: I like the way of sort of establishing Strange and the beat he walks as Sorcerer Supreme and what it’s like to him. I like the idea of [villains] who really [burn] his world to the ground—I think from there we start to kind of rebuild it. [We put] a few more limits on his powers; Strange has become kind of a deus ex machina for a while in the Marvel [Universe] where he could always just sort of show up and wave his fingers and save the day so I wanted to get away from that and show it’s a lot harder for him to be who he is and to do what he does, show him really have to fight and struggle for it, sometimes literally. We wanted him to be able to mix it up a little bit more and not just stand around and shoot magical energy blasts, but have to pick up a weapon and jump into the fray more than we’re used to seeing.

Doctor Strange #20 cover

Marvel.com: Another theme in the comic is the existence of supernatural horrors just beyond the veil of human comprehension, which was brought to vivid life by Chris Bachalo’s artwork. Was the cosmic horror and weird fiction of H.P. Lovecraft an influence at all?

Jason Aaron: Sure. I’ve read a lot of Lovecraft and love it. I think, again, that Doctor Strange is very different from all the other heroes in the Marvel Universe and that he’s the guy who walks a very different sort of beat and has to deal with threats that most of the other heroes may not even know exist. We wanted to drive that home and Chris has been a huge part of that. Right out of the gate in issue #1 we did the bit where we kind of see the world through Doctor Strange’s eyes; we call it “Strange Vision” where we see the normal world kind of go into black and white and we see all the things that only someone like Stephen Strange can see in pop and color. Chris is the perfect artist to do stuff like that. He really took it to another level on this. All along the way, once he was on board, he’s been filled with all sorts of crazy ideas with stuff to put in this book, visually, and has taken it to some really wild, imaginative places.

Marvel.com: What was it like writing this comic in the midst of big releases like the “Doctor Strange” movie that helped propel Stephen to a status of fame that he may not have enjoyed before?

Jason Aaron: Yeah, I think that’s really cool. Certainly anything that helps get more eyes on the comics, I’m always a fan of. I really enjoyed the movie, I really liked the tone of it and it felt like the movie and the comic were kind of pulling in the same direction in that regard. I’m really excited to see Strange pop up again in the [Marvel] Cinematic Universe.

Marvel.com: What hints and/or spoilers can you offer up about issue #20 before it drops in May?

Jason Aaron: I think it kind of sums up my run-up to this point. It’s the big issue; it’s drawn by the two artists who’ve handled most of it in the art so far: Chris Bachalo, the main artist, and then Kevin Nowlan who’s drawn a few bits here and there. So the two of them together, I think they’re the perfect pairing for this series. It’s a story that goes to a lot of different places, kind of focuses on Stephen and the core group of supporting characters around him and like I said, sums up my run so far and kind of sets things up for the new writer Dennis Hopeless to [take on] these same characters and take them forward into some new and different stories.

Marvel.com: And going off that, can you say anything on where Doctor Strange will go from here? Is he gonna be making any cameo appearances in MIGHTY THOR?

Jason Aaron: Maybe. You never know. I really enjoyed writing that team-up issue of STRANGE where we saw Doctor Strange and Thor teaming up so yeah, I don’t think I’m done writing Doctor Strange in some capacity.

Marvel.com: Is there anything in particular that you hope readers have taken away from your run on the title?

Jason Aaron: Just, you know, don’t ever touch Doctor Strange’s refrigerator…

Join Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo, and Kevin Nowlan for DOCTOR STRANGE #20 on May 17!

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After discovering their king is a Skrull impostor, the Inhumans take to the stars!

Bred by an alien race to be a warrior caste and possessing alien DNA, the Inhumans exist as humans possessed of incredible and otherworldly powers when exposed to the substance known as Terrigen. Living secretly, for the most part, among their fellow man, the Inhumans forge their own destiny as a separate society. Dig into the history of the Inhumans with these Marvel Unlimited comics in preparation for “Marvel’s Inhumans” heading to IMAX and ABC this fall! 

For some, space might represent a place of limitless wonder and opportunity, but not for the Inhumans. The species felt two major setbacks coming from the stars in 2007’s WORLD WAR HULK #1, the Green King proved his strength and rage by easily beating the Inhuman one unconscious and using his limp body as proof of his might. The next year’s ILLUMINATI #5 revealed that Black Bolt himself had been replaced by a Super Skrull. Namor killed the interloper and Iron Man delivered the body to Medusa in SECRET INVASION: INHUMANS by Joe Pokaski and Tom Raney. 

Secret Invasion: Inhumans (2008) #1

Secret Invasion: Inhumans (2008) #1

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That series continued by showing the Inhumans trying to deal with the revelation that their king had been replaced while a Skrull scientist experimented on Blackagar. While Attilan defended itself against an invasion of Super Skrulls, the Royal Family headed out to get their true leader back. Medusa turned to Ronan and the Kree for help, he agreed as long as Crystal married him.

Eventually reunited, the Royal Family returned to Attilan where they made peace with Maximus and announced the Kree alliance. In SECRET INVASION: WAR OF KINGS, one event gave way to another as the Inhumans took to space in Attilan itself, now a city-ship powered by Black Bolt’s voice. 

Secret Invasion: War of Kings One-Shot (2009) #1

Secret Invasion: War of Kings One-Shot (2009) #1

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Seeing as how the Kree played with Earth genes to create the initial wave of Inhumans, the current group saw that their evolutionary prowess actually put them above the blue-skinned space cases. In other words, the Inhumans called dibs on leading the Kree Empire!

In the WAR OF KINGS six issue series, the Inhumans found themselves thrust into intergalactic politics and all the fighting that came with it thanks to a conflict with the Shi’Ar and their maniacal leader Vulcan.

The war itself ended when Black Bolt attempted to create an equal genetic foundation by releasing the Terrigen Mists into the cosmos. Instead, Vulcan showed up to kill the king. While Crystal and Lockjaw escaped, giving the former time to suppress the mist’s release, but not the massive explosion which seemingly killed Black Bolt after he blasted Vulcan with a “No.”

The Inhumans’ cosmic adventures continued in the Realm of Kings event which found various space heroes trying to stop the Cancerverse’s incursion on reality. In REALM OF KINGS: INHUMANS, Medusa carried on where her husband left off as both the leader of her people as well as the Shi’Ar. 

Realm of Kings: Inhumans (2009) #1

Realm of Kings: Inhumans (2009) #1

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An attack from Devos the Devastator happened to bring the Mighty Avengers back to the Inhumans, including Silent War instigator Quicksilver. He claimed that a Skrull actually committed the acts, but lied. Still, he returned the missing crystals as an act of good faith.

After THE THANOS IMPERATIVE, a far more important return took place in FF #6 when Black Bolt made a triumphant one thanks to Jonathan Hickman and Greg Tocchini. He awoke in The Fault where Lockjaw appeared to bring him back to his people. The Inhumans then responded to a summons, gave Kree control back to Ronan and returned to Earth where Black Bolt found himself a husband four more times over! For even more Hickman Inhuman action, come back next time! 

FF (2010) #6

FF (2010) #6

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THE INHUMAN CONDITION

Wondering when exactly the Skrulls nabbed Black Bolt and replaced him with one of their own? As explained in SECRET INVASION: INHUMANS #3, they got him after Secret War when Blackagar Boltagon snuck out for one of his Illuminati meetings. They feared that the replacement’s defeat at the hands of Hulk would result in the humans uncovering the invasion plot, but Medusa swung in to nurse her presumed husband back to health.

Jonathan Hickman take the Inhumans – and the rest of the Marvel Universe – to Infinity and beyond!

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Lando Calrissian wasn’t always the “respectable leader” we see in the films…

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

LANDO #1 begins just the way a limited series starring Lando Calrissian should—with the loveable scoundrel wooing a beautiful woman. In the same scene, Charles Soule elegantly provides a full understanding of Lando’s current place in the galaxy—and he’s not exactly the administrator of a profitable tibanna gas mining facility yet. Rather, he lives a life much like the one lived by his old friend Han Solo, constantly on the run. And in massive debt.

Lando (2015) #1

Lando (2015) #1

  • Published: July 08, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: January 04, 2016
  • Writer: Charles Soule
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Just as Han has Jabba the Hutt, Lando owes his fair share of credits a soft-spoken crime lord named Papa Toren, who’s got just the operation in mind for Lando to wipe that debt away. It’s a simple robbery involving the theft of a ship full of priceless art from “some rich Imperial.” By issue’s end we learn that said rich Imperial is none other than Emperor Palpatine. Oops…

As a whole, LANDO is worth your time not only for Soule’s spot-on characterization of someone we love from the films despite limited screen time, but also for “buddy film” vibe between Lando and his closest friend, Lobot. Yeah, that’s right—the silent bald guy in “The Empire Strikes Back” with a huge cybernetic implant going around his head. He’s not so silent here, asking intelligent questions in the face of Lando’s unorthodox line of thinking…but by the end of the series, we’ll learn why he’s not so chatty by the time Episode V comes around.

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Speculate on what’s been stunting Groot’s growth with Gerry Duggan!

Since the start of ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, Groot’s been stuck in a small state and True Believers across the galaxy have been attempting to guess why.

Normally a giant, the talkin’ tree has been relegated to sapling status—but on September 6 that all changes with ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #9! Guest artist Mike Hawthorne joins series writer Gerry Duggan to reveal the source of Groot’s problem and where the one-line wonder goes from here.

But before issue #9 officially answers the question, we asked Gerry to give us his thoughts on a few of our reasonable (and unreasonable) theories about the cause of Groot’s perpetually-slight stature.

Marvel.com: Our first guess: there’s a unique frequency in every Electric Light Orchestra song that keeps his species from growing any biggerand he’s just danced to one too many. 

Gerry Duggan: Or fans keep breaking pieces off of him.

Marvel.com: Maybe he got in the way of one of Rocket’s mad science experiments and got blasted, poisoned, or shot into permanent-baby form. 

Gerry Duggan: Well, Groot’s not exactly a baby in All New—he’s just physically diminished. He’s banzai Groot.

Marvel.com: What if Rocket made such a snarky quip that it degraded Groot down to his current state?

Gerry Duggan: No comment is too salty for this team.

Marvel.com: Perhaps, before the start of this series, the Guardians fought some powerful cosmic gardener/Edward Scissor Hands-esque entity that wanted to trim Groot into a beautiful and delicate lawn feature. 

Gerry Duggan: That would be quite a gardener/mohel.

Uncover the mystery at last with ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #9, by Gerry Duggan and artist Mike Hawthorne, on September 6!

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Mark Waid looks back upon a classic Thor/Hercules tussle from The King!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

A few days ago, we talked about how it can take some time to get used to an artist as dynamic and bold as Jack Kirby. By his own admission, AVENGERS writer Mark Waid didn’t take to “The King” when he first experienced some of his comics at the Distinguished Competition as a kid. If you’re wondering what made him change his mind about the artist, it came in the pages of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #125 and THOR #126130.

“One of my all-time favorite Kirby stories is the ‘Verdict of Zeus’ epic, which I read at age 12 and was my introduction to Marvel Kirby,” Waid said. “The sheer drama in that Thor/Hercules saga, with all its grandeur and all its humanity, was an education for me.”

These issues contain many amazing moments bound to convert anyone to Camp Kirby. The first issue kicks off with a battle between Thor and a Norn Stone-enhanced Witch Doctor for several pages before shifting focus to a napping Hercules who helped move a downed tree from the train tracks.

After returning the Norn Stone to his father on Asgard, Thor attempts to tell his father that he revealed his secret identity to Jane Foster, but the elder god already knew! In his rage, Odin demands the other warriors present attack his son in “the Ritual of Steel.” The Odinson fights valiantly and earns his trip across the Rainbow Bridge back to Midgard where he finds his beloved at a soda parlor with Hercules!

Journey Into Mystery (1952) #125

Journey Into Mystery (1952) #125

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A wonderfully epic, titanic battle erupts between the two gods in the very first issue of THOR! How epic, you wonder? Well in addition to wielding enchanted uru hammers and Power Staffs, the two use trailer trucks, streets, heavy machinery, buildings, and bare fists to knock each other silly.

Hercules not only wins that battle, but also parlays the victory into a gig working on a gorgeous movie set overseen by mysterious supernatural figures disguised as humans. Meanwhile, Thor returns to Asgard where he stops an interloper from stealing Odin’s power, but nearly at the cost of his own life.

Eventually, Thor heals up, which gives him the strength to help Hercules get out of a boneheaded deal he made to become ruler of the Netherworld, thus cementing a camaraderie that continues to this day.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Writer Peter David examines Kaine and Ben Reilly’s relationship!

It’s been in the air since even before issue #1, but on September 13, the animosity between Kaine and Ben Reilly reaches its boiling point in BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #7!

Written by Peter David and penciled by Will Sliney—featuring a cover by Mark Bagley—Ben and Kaine’s turbulent past forever alters their shared future in this latest chapter. To understand how these two characters reached this moment—and where Reilly may go from here—we talked to series writer David about these extremely unusual “brothers.”

Marvel.com: Prior to The Clone Conspiracy, how would you describe Ben’s attitude towards Kaineand vice versa?

Peter David: Initially, Kaine hated Ben; he felt that Ben represented everything that he, Kaine, could not have and could not be. Kaine was an earlier—and somewhat failed—attempt to clone Peter Parker, but Ben proved to be the version that got it right. So he resented the hell out of Ben for that.

I think Ben would’ve been perfectly happy to live in concert with his brother, but he constantly had to defend himself against Kaine’s plans and assaults.

Eventually, Kaine managed to grow past his hatred and morphed into someone who respected Ben—although I’m not sure that he ever really liked him.

Marvel.com: How have their respective attitudes changed in the wake of both Conspiracy and the events of issues #1-6 of BEN REILLY?

Peter David: Ben’s evil reawakened all of Kaine’s old hostility for him—but now Kaine feels that it was all justified. That’s why he’s out to kill Ben rather than simply capture him. He firmly believes that Ben has no right to exist—that there should not be an evil version of Peter Parker running around.

Marvel.com: How would you summarize each character at this point in their lives?

Peter David: Kaine believes that he’s the good guy and so does Ben. He wants to kill Ben, and Ben simply wants to survive.

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider (2017) #7

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider (2017) #7

  • Published: September 13, 2017
  • Cover Artist: Mark Bagley

Marvel.com: During the writing process, were there any specific turning points that uniquely informed who Ben and Kaine are now?

Peter David: The Clone Conspiracy, obviously—the story that revealed Ben as still alive and crystallized their personalities in relation to each other.

Marvel.com: How does Will Sliney’s approach to drawing Kaine and the Scarlet Spider aid their written characterizations? What about their individual physicalities did you accentuate to highlight their differences?

Peter David: In terms of their physicality, they are both pretty much the same guy, so they are going to move pretty similarly—except that Ben has Spider-Sense and Kaine just has superb reflexes. So that difference factors into choreographing the fight scenes.

Marvel.com: What makes issue #7 such a vital piece of Ben and Kaine’s story?

Peter David: It’s been tough to root for Ben considering how skewed his personality was after The Clone Conspiracy. That difficulty is one of this story’s core components, and we know how desperately fans want to be on Ben’s side in terms of pulling for the book’s title character. Fans know he’s still in there somewhere, and part of his journey is digging his true self up. Will he succeed? Will he fall deeper in to madness? All I’ll say is that there is no way you will get to the last page of issue #7 and not be on Ben’s side.

BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #7, by Peter David and artist Will Sliney, hits shelves on September 13!

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Star Wars comics reveal how Darth Vader learned his son blew up the Death Star.

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

We’ve all seen “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back”—and we all know that Darth Vader was aiming to capture Luke in Episode V despite not knowing his identity during the Death Star trench run. So…how did that happen? How did Vader learn that he almost gunned down his own son? Shared between both STAR WARS #6 and DARTH VADER # 6, one of the greatest moments in Star Wars comic book history reveals this crucial moment in Star Wars lore.

Darth Vader (2015) #6

Darth Vader (2015) #6

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STAR WARS #6 made headlines when it was released for revealing that Han Solo may have a wife, but the arguable bigger revelation is the one Boba Fett conveys to Vader in the issue’s final pages. The bounty hunter had learned of Luke’s identity in STAR WARS #5, and issue #6 kicks off with him encountering Luke—the rare instance of Fett’s prey successfully fleeing. The issue concludes with the revelation. Vader does not take it well…

DARTH VADER #6 ends similarly, but with a more introspective look at the news from the Dark Lord’s perspective. We see thoughts of Padme go through his mind—as well as Palpatine’s lie to him that he killed her. Then, four simple words that should pack a huge emotional wallop to fans: “I have a son.” We know what happens from there.

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The King helps usher in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and much more!

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

Although he’d already knocked the socks off of comic book fans the previous year with a collection of incredible debuts, Jack Kirby teamed once again with Marvel editor and writer Stan Lee to ensure that 1963 offered up as many if not more fantastic firsts.

Perhaps supreme among that year’s debuts stood AVENGERS #1. Lee and Kirby took their biggest stars to that point—Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Ant-Man, and The Wasp—and brought them together in a single dream team. Kirby’s proficiency at juggling multiple characters paid off in spades in a story that gave equal time to all the heroes, plus included the villainy of Thor’s half-brother Loki just for good measure. Fans responded enthusiastically, and the creative duo notched their belts with another hit on their hands.

Not content with just one new team of super heroes, Jack designed another set to be launched not as guest-stars or back-ups in another title, but in a book of their own right out of the starting gate. X-MEN #1 introduced teen champions with a little “x-tra” going for them: mutant powers. The mysterious Professor X brought in Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman, and Marvel Girl to battle Lee and Kirby’s newest criminal creation, Magneto, and the world of comics would never be the same again.

Jack, a veteran of combat in World War II, found much to dig into when he helped kick off a new war series called SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS in 1963. Just like with  their super hero teams, Kirby and Lee endowed the platoon of soldiers and their commander who populated the book with duffel bags full of personality, and their stories with all the action and pathos Marvel fans began to demand.

Over in the world of the Fantastic Four, the duo’s superstars from the year before received their very first Annual issue, an immense tome illustrated solely by Jack. The volume included a sprawling battle between the FF and the Sub-Mariner, several pages of pinups of the foursome’s fearsome foes, and an expansion of the scuffle between our heroes and Spider-Man from the webslinger’s first issue of his own new title—all this for a mere 25 cents cover price.

In their regular book, Marvel’s first family enjoyed Jack’s art for the very first crossover story from the House of Ideas, the Hulk-FF clash in FANTASTIC FOUR #12, the debut of The Watcher and his exotic moon base in FANTASTIC FOUR #13, and the Super-Skrull’s arrival in FANTASTIC FOUR #18. All these amazing new characters benefited from Kirby’s sense of design and wonder, cementing their role in the ever-growing Marvel Universe.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Writer Robbie Thompson summons a retrospective look as the series powers to a close!

Even magic has its limits.

On September 13, the Sorcerers will have to accept that reality in DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #12, as writer Robbie Thompson and artist Nathan Stockman conjure up an intense conclusion for the supernatural crew.

As he dusted off his magic artifacts for the last time, we caught up with Robbie to ask about his stellar work on the book—and what’s still to come.

Marvel.com: As we reach the end, how are you feeling about the DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME series as a whole?

Robbie Thompson: I’m feeling sad! This book was so much fun to work on—Editor Nick Lowe assembled a murderer’s row of all-star talent and I learned a ton on this book. Every collaborator has brought their A-game on every page.

But I also feel satisfied, and thanks again to Nick for that, too. We had time to wrap the story up the way we wanted to—with a satisfying conclusion to the story we set out to tell.

Marvel.com: How does the art for that last issue look? What was the artistic collaboration like over the course of the whole title?

Robbie Thompson: Thanks to Nate Stockman, [artist] Jim Campbell, and [letterer] Joe Caramagna, the last issue of the series looks stunning.

I’m so happy with how this book turned out—it’s been bittersweet, but also fun, to see the pages, colors, and lettering on this final issue. We decided to do something different for this one, inspired by FANTASTIC FOUR #252, by having this final issue be horizontal. It made for some fun and crazy layouts from Nate—and helped keep us on our toes right to the end of the run.

Marvel.com: As you wrote the characters, did any surprises emerge throughout the run? How would you characterize their emotional journeys over the course of the bookespecially Strange’s?

Robbie Thompson: I think the character that surprised me the most was Mindful One. We knew going in that Sir Isaac Newton was going to turn on the group—and that some characters would leave sooner rather than later—but I wasn’t expecting Mindful to be such an emotional character. His friendship with Kushala came out of the way that Javier Rodriguez drew them both, and based on that, we would all pitch moments for Mindful in each issue and he started to grow as a character. It was cool to see him become more of an emotional part of the team.

As for the rest of the team, typically, Sorcerers Supreme work alone—not with other Supremes. But because of the time travel, we had a chance for each of them to see that they were a part of a much larger story than they knew, which made for some emotional moments, especially for Doctor Strange. He gets to talk to someone in issue #11 that I wasn’t initially planning on him even meeting when we first set out to tell this story. But because this is a time travel story, we had the unique opportunity to say something a little more emotional in that exchange. And because we’re talking about Sorcerers Supreme throughout time, including Stephen Strange’s mentor Yao, we had a chance to have Strange see his own legacy—to have him understand the impact he’s had on magic and history.

Marvel.com: I’m sure you’ve had a few favorite moments over the course of the series. Looking back, which ones stand out?

Robbie Thompson: For me, the moments I love looking back on are where the collaborative nature of the story shined through; a moment where Nick or Editor Darren Shan had a great fix for a story or character beat, a moment where Javier Rodriguez took a page and completely made it his own, getting to watch Nate Stockman create his versions of future X-Men battling in Dublin, getting to watch colorist Jordie Bellaire take a two-page spread and work her magic.

Then there’s our letterer, Joe Caramagna—he’d come up with the perfect creation every time. Comics work best when everyone contributes, and I think the book’s best moments came from when everyone pitched in and brought their own spin to the story being told.

Marvel.com: How did it feel to sit down and write the final issue? How did it feel to finish the script?

Robbie Thompson: To be honest, I kept putting it off! We were ahead because I started writing out of order to help the schedule, so I just kept dragging my feet! I wrote a draft of the last script, which wasn’t bad or anything, but when Javier handed in his cover for the last issue, I threw my work in the trash. The image Javier sent in was so inspiring that I had to rewrite what I had—and it made for a much, much better ending. So I’m glad I waited and dragged my feet, because I like this ending much more than what I originally wrote.

Marvel.com: What can fans expect in the last issue?

Robbie Thompson: When readers see who shows up at the end of issue #11, they’ll want to see how this all ends in #12. It pays off something we set up all the way back in the first story. Again, Nick was awesome about giving us time to wind everything down the way we wanted—we’ve been able to wrap up every detail.

Witness the mystical end with DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #12, by Robbie Thompson and artist Nathan Stockman, on September 13!

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The sea king reveals his true intents as Secret Empire barrels towards its epic conclusion!

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

Ever since his first appearance back in 1939’s MARVEL COMICS #1, Namor of Atlantis has proven himself one of the most inscrutable and complicated characters around. He’s constantly talking about focusing solely on his underwater home, but also forming alliances with land-lovers and getting involved in their larger conflicts.

With Secret Empire, the sea king couldn’t help but get involved as Steve Rogers himself approached his former Invaders teammate about establishing an agreement between the Hydra-run United States and the undersea ruler.

In the first issue of BRAVE NEW WORLD, Namor admitted that he struck a deal with Rogers that would lead to Atlantis’ neutrality as long as they didn’t interfere in surface matters. Two more invaders, Human Torch and Toro, tried convincing him that, eventually, Rogers would take over the whole world. Their reward for trying? Getting locked up in jail.

SECRET EMPIRE #3 saw Hydra send Baron Zemo and their Avengers to raid Atlantis after they discovered a piece of the Cosmic Cube resided there. Upon completion of the mission, though, Rogers’ agents realized that the piece proved a fake. To show his displeasure with his one time comrade, Captain America ordered his people to destroy the entire location.

At the same time, members of the resistance traveled all over the world trying to track down their own under the supposed guidance of Artificial Intelligence Tony Stark, who turned out to be lying about being able to track the pieces.

To everyone’s surprise, Namor asked for an official, public audience with Rogers and presented him with the Cosmic Cube fragment. Even more shocking? He actually bowed to the turncoat, as seen in SECRET EMPIRE #4.

Later, after Hydra’s near-crippling attack on the resistance’s secret headquarters and Steve Rogers’ almost-death at the fists of Miles Morales, Namor returned to the fray in SECRET EMPIRE #8. After the heroes took out the Darkforce bubble around Manhattan and the planetary shield, Namor popped out of the water with help and a surprise.

Not only did he reveal that he planned on helping the heroes, but also that he had an ace up his sleeve: Bucky!

In this week’s SECRET EMPIRE: BRAVE NEW WORLD #5, we saw that, after his apparent death at the hands of Baron Zemo, Bucky had been posing as one of Namor’s advisers. He revealed himself to Human Torch and Toro and then all of the Invaders united to help their friend.

The Empire Strikes Back

Namor and Bucky have a long history of working with one another. The two, of course, fought against the Nazis during World War II, but their relationship picked right back up after Steve Rogers used a mangled Cosmic Cube to restore Bucky’s memories in the wake of his return as the Winter Soldier. When Bucky took over for Steve Rogers as Captain America, he and Namor teamed up to save the body of Jim Hammond, the Human Torch which is part of a larger story running in CAPTAIN AMERICA #4348. This tale establishes not just Namor’s deep loyalty to these people he fought alongside of, while also showing some of those original adventures. Eventually, they recovered Hammond’s body and gave him a proper burial, though he returned to active duty not long after.

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