The Sorcerer Supreme redefines the rules in an All-New All-Different Marvel Universe!
You might think you know how magic works in the Marvel Universe, but you have no idea.
In this post-Secret Wars world of an All-New All-Different Marvel Universe, magic has transformed in mysterious ways that make it more dangerous to wield. Readers of the upcoming DOCTOR STRANGE beginning this fall will have a front row seat to the new mystical status quo and what it means for the world at large.
Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, stands ready to face these new challenges alongside his new book’s architects writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bachalo, who previously collaborated on WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN.
Aaron and Bachalo note that while favorite runs on the character include the classic stories of Steve Ditko and Steve Englehart, this represents a bold, new direction for Doctor Strange.
Marvel.com: You’ve both tackled a lot of Marvel’s major players from Wolverine and the X-Men to Thor and Hulk. In each case you seem to tap into something very familiar about that character while taking them in new directions. Do you have something similar planned with Doctor Strange?
Jason Aaron: Absolutely. I’ve gone back and read lots of old Doctor Strange stories to get ready for this, and I love that the character inhabits his own weird little corner of the Marvel Universe. None of Marvel’s other heavy hitters walk the same beat as Doctor Strange. None of them have to face the same sorts of repercussions whenever they use their powers. Being the Sorcerer Supreme is a unique responsibility. And it’s one that Stephen Strange embraces. Even though there’s no doubt that his job is, one day, going to leave him dead, damned or insane. So I want to celebrate all the weirdness that is Doctor Strange, while having him face a challenge unlike anything he’s ever faced before. One that rewrites the rulebook for what it means to be the Sorcerer Supreme.
Chris Bachalo: The opening issue is going to feel very familiar. That’s the point of our opening. I think the risk we are taking is that the readers, after seeing this, won’t arrive at the conclusion that it’s the same-old, same-old and leave. Rather, we hope that they have the faith in us to see what we can do and stick it out for a few issues—as it’s not going to stay that way. It’ll be rewarding.
Marvel.com: Doctor Strange is a character who has always been defined as much by the visual style of the comics he appears in as the actual stories. Is that something you think about when approaching this character, Chris?
Chris Bachalo: You bet. That’s the case with every book I take on. It’s one of the biggest obstacles to get over. The environment and feel of the book should be as unique as the characters and the stories. It should be as interesting as they are. You should be able to look at the surroundings and know what book you are reading or TV series you’re watching.
I think that’s one of the big challenges of creating a definitive series. How important was Hawaii and the tropical jungle to “Lost,” New Mexico to “Breaking Bad,” North Dakota and the snow to “Fargo,” the Australian outback to “Mad Max,” the spaceship in “Alien?” They are all characters into themselves. Clearly defined. Examples from series that I have worked on before are Death: High Cost of Living that took place in 90’s New York, GENERATION X at the Massachusetts Xavier school and the Bio-dome. Steampunk was in a unique retro-futuristic “steampunk” inspired world, WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN took place at the Beast-designed Jean Grey School, UNCANNY X-MEN was in the barren, frozen Canadian north, the world of Age of Apocalypse; I tried hard to create a unique space for all.
With DOCTOR STRANGE our challenge is to create a unique environment for Stephen to exist in. Something beyond the norm that differentiates itself from other spaces. You should be able to view the locations and know that it’s a Doctor Strange book. One of the first things I expressed to Jason when joining was that I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time drawing cosmic battle scenes. That’s been done a million times and I had no interest in it. I think I was looking for something a little more down to earth, something a little more grounded in reality. I want to create a new cosmos to play in. Grab bits and pieces from what’s been done before but then throw in a few things for a different perspective. We’ll see how it turns out.
Marvel.com: Magic is one of those tricky things because, sometimes, it can be chaotic if there aren’t a set series of rules in place. How are you tackling that in this book?
Jason Aaron: The only rule I’m really interested in is that for everything Doctor Strange does, there must be a cost. The forces of magic don’t come free. Every spell, every incantation, every tampering with the mystical forces of nature comes with a price. And either Doctor Strange pays that cost himself or the world must pay it for him. But one way or another, it’s getting paid. And when you don’t see that the scales are kept balanced and you let that tab build up, then it’s hell for everyone when it finally comes due.
Chris Bachalo: The potential is there for it to be very chaotic. It may turn out to be. I’m still early in the process so I don’t know how it’s going turn out.
Marvel.com: Doctor Strange has a very iconic and functional costume, but were there elements you wanted to play with?
Chris Bachalo: We did do a series of drawings focusing on Doctor Strange’s costume. I really enjoy the classic [Steve] Ditko design and pretty much wanted to keep it as is, but with a few minor tweaks and adjustments. I’m very practical when it comes to designing costumes. As much as possible, they need to work for the character and what he is doing. With this in mind, I made a few small adjustments to the costume, one of which ended up being a little bigger than expected.
Two of the adjustments I made had to do with the cloak—or as I like to refer to it as, the cape—and his ballerina tights. Jason and I envision Stephen as being more of hands-on character and it didn’t make sense that he’d have a huge cloak and huge collar surrounding his head—how does he see to his left and to his right?—and that he doesn’t wear shoes. The tights are nice for around-the-house, but what about in a street fight with battle axes?
We came up with, I think, a really good solution for both. One simple, one not so much. I’m really in love with the “cape” and can’t wait to start putting it on paper. I think it’s going to be the real focus of the character. That and we made a few other small additions and subtractions. We hope that they make sense to the audience and embrace them as we have.
Marvel.com: Doctor Strange is known to hang out with a few individuals on a regular basis and also team up with just about everyone in the Marvel Universe. Will readers see any of those familiar faces as the series kicks off?
Jason Aaron: Yes, we establish in issue #1 that Dr. Strange has a sort of Algonquin Round Table of magic users that he hangs out with; old friends and new friends and maybe even a rival or two. They’re the only people alive he can talk shop with. So they get together periodically over drinks to compare notes and share the latest interdimensional gossip.
Marvel.com: You’re probably still in early stages right now, but, Jason, how has it been working with Chris again on this book? Are you writing particular story elements with his style in mind?
Jason Aaron: I worked with Chris before on WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN and have been wanting desperately to work with him again. He was the first and only artist we ever talked about for this series. Chris has a sort of wild inventiveness that’s perfect for Doctor Strange. Not to mention that he draws the most amazing monsters. And if you thought our version of the Jean Grey School was weird, well, wait until you see what we’re doing with the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Marvel.com: Chris, what do you think your very specific artistic style brings to the world of Doctor Strange?
Chris Bachalo: This is a book in which I’ll be able to use my entire visual toolbox. It’s similar to what I did in Steampunk in which I can, pretty much, add anything to the environment that makes reasonable sense—and when you’re dealing with the world of magic that can be a lot. This can be very intimidating as the temptation to put as much as possible into every panel is alluring. In reality, if I were to pursue that end, I’d never finish book as the pages would be chalk full, corner to corner with stuff that would take me forever to illustrate. The goal will be to put in as much stuff as possible in moderation and to portray in a refreshing way—as much as possible.
The big hill to climb for me on this book is to make it as refreshing and interesting as possible. Every idea has been pursued to death and creating a different perspective from something with this kind of history may be a defining aspect on whether or not it’s successful.
Fall under the spell of DOCTOR STRANGE by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo this fall, and stay tuned to Marvel.com and our social channels for the latest All-New All-Different Marvel news!