Donny Cates teases a Loki showdown and universe-shattering revelations!

Loki as a Sorcerer Supreme. Yeah, you read that correctly.

Writer Donny Cates and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta give the God of Lies and Mischief the magical mantle in DOCTOR STRANGE. And on December 6, issue #382 sees Doctor Strange make a move that will create huge repercussions across the Marvel Universe.

We conjured up Mr. Cates to discuss the spellbinding showdown.

Marvel.com: What can you give away about how Strange handles Loki in this issue?

Donny Cates: Oh, well…nothing! [Laughs] I mean…I know in this day and age it has become a bit of a standard thing to say “This will change everything,” but just between you and me, the events of the end of my second issue will be felt for years and years in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: What has been the most challenging aspect of transforming Loki for this new role?

Donny Cates: Loki is such an incredibly rich character to write—one that surprises me with every script. He’s alive, you know? He does whatever he wants on the page, regardless of what I have planned for him. I always say in interviews that I wouldn’t dare speak on behalf of Loki, and that’s true. He has plans upon plans, schemes upon schemes. He’s way smarter (and more charming) than me, so really, when I write him, it’s just me trying to get out of his way, and let him come out and speak in the book.

You notice how I didn’t answer your question? I learned that from watching Loki.

Marvel.com: Can you talk about how Loki uses his god-like powers combined with his new sorcerer ones?

Donny Cates: Obviously it makes for a hell of a powerful character, right? But, it’s important to note that the title of Sorcerer Supreme doesn’t necessarily grant you new powers. It’s a symbol of the level of power you already wield. It’s like a black belt. Having a black belt doesn’t make you better at karate…it’s an outward symbol of how good you are at karate.

So to answer your question, Loki is super good at karate.

Marvel.com: Anyone would be wary in striking an alliance with him, but what explicit reasons does Stephen have to mistrust him?

Donny Cates: That’s the big thing in this book. So I can’t give that away, but here…let’s do this instead. Who saw “Thor: Ragnarok” this weekend? Oh, all of you did? Awesome, okay. So here we go into spoiler country…

3…

2…

1…

Okay, any of you still there? Oh, all of you are? Awesome. Okay, so you know that way too brief but amazing little back and forth between Loki and Doctor Strange in the movie? If you want more of exactly that…I got you.

Honestly, that scene was more or less a trailer for this entire run. You’re welcome!

Marvel.com: What kind of legacy does Loki see for himself in the world of magic?

Donny Cates: The idea of legacy that runs through this arc has been crazy fun. I’ve said it before, but this arc shares so much DNA with the origin of Doctor Strange, and the long, long history of Loki. It’s all about Stephen coming to grips with the things that made him special being torn away from him, and the insane lengths he’ll go to see them returned. That’s where Stephen Strange began his journey, and that’s where we once again find him here.

As for Loki, well…you’re certainly asking the right questions. So many people get hung up on the how of it all. “How did Loki become the Sorcerer Supreme!? How can that be possible!?”

And look, we’ll answer that question, of course…but that’s not what you should be asking.

You should be asking “Why?”

And for that answer…well, I’m afraid you’ll have to ask Loki. I wouldn’t dare speak for a sorcerer god with a black belt in question dodging and karate.

DOCTOR STRANGE #382, by Donny Cates and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta, drops on December 6!

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Writer Donny Cates conjures up mischief with our newest Sorcerer Supreme!

What would happen if Loki, the God of Mischief, became the Sorcerer Supreme? That’s exactly the question that writer Donny Cates tackles in the upcoming DOCTOR STRANGE #381. We may not know what Loki is up to yet, but we do know one thing – it won’t be boring! We caught up with Cates to find out more about what we can expect.

Marvel.com: Loki obviously doesn’t have the same altruistic leanings as Stephen Strange…as the Sorcerer Supreme, will he use his role to further his own ends?

Donny Cates: Hmmmm, yes and no. That question there is really the heart of Loki, right? He’s so much fun because you never know the rules of whatever game he’s currently playing. So yes, he probably is using his role to serve his own needs….but what if his needs are altruistic? Is he still being selfish and underhanded if the result is a net positive? I’m not saying that’s necessarily the case here, but I wouldn’t ever get too comfortable with how you perceive Loki and his intentions.

Marvel.com: Stephen has a lot of experience when it comes to sorcery, but Loki has been doing it even longer. How will that inform how he approaches being Sorcerer Supreme?

Donny Cates: Well, at the end of the day, this is still very much a book about Stephen Strange. So, it’s very interesting, because on the one hand you have this GOD who is now insanely powerful in his new role….and then we have Stephen. I can’t say much about where Stephen is in this arc, but it’s unusual, and more (ahem) low-key than anything we’ve ever seen before. So it’s a nice dichotomy between the two.

How’s that for dodging a question? 🙂

Doctor Strange #381 cover by Mike Del Mundo

Marvel.com: Loki is, of course, the god of mischief. He doesn’t have the same reverence for authority as some of the more “heroic” characters. It seems like he’d have a lot of fun in this role. He could definitely mess with people.

Donny Cates: Oh for sure! As is said in the first issue, Loki is not, nor has he ever been, overly fond of “the rules.” So he kind of bumps up against this idea of magic having limits and prices. He’s not into it. And that leads him, and us,  down some rather dark roads.  

Marvel.com: Still, Loki often chooses to do the right thing. He might not want to admit it, but he does care. So can we expect to see him using his authority for the greater good, as well?

Donny Cates: Yeah, that’s what’s so amazing about him as a character these days. Even when he WANTS to do something good, no one on Earth (or in any realm) believes him. Everyone still thinks of him as this mustache-twirling villain, but that’s not really who he is anymore, right? He’s much more complicated.

I should mention though, that whatever supposed heroic deeds Loki has planned, or how well his intentions are….the good Doctor will be having none of it. Stephen doesn’t trust Loki as far as he can throw him, and he will stop at nothing to see his home, his cloak, and his title returned to him.

The lengths Strange will go through to see his livelihood returned to him…that’s the real story here. And I promise you can’t fathom what those lengths will be.

You’ve never seen Doctor Strange like this.

Doctor Strange #382 cover by Mike Del Mundo

Marvel.com: Would you like to mention or tease anything else?

Donny Cates: If I were a betting man….I’d pay A LOT OF ATTENTION to the second issue of my run. DOCTOR STRANGE #382 is a big one folks. I’ll see you there!

DOCTOR STRANGE #381, by Donny Cates and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, hits shelves on November 15!

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Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw plot a Marvel Legacy course for destruction!

What happens when Thanos wins?

Prepare to find out when writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw, the critically acclaimed team behind the series God Country, answer that question with a story set to rock the Universe. On November 22, the Mad Titan leaps into the Marvel Legacy era with THANOS #13!

We caught up with Donny to hear what he has in store for the cosmic conqueror.

Marvel.com: How did your involvement in THANOS come about? What attracted you to writing this book?

Donny Cates: Editor extraordinaire Jordan D. White called me and asked if I’d like to write the book! I believe he and [Editor-in-Chief] Axel Alonso enjoyed my previous work with Geoff, which led to both of us being approached for the project.

As for what attracted me to the book, I have always been such a huge fan of Marvel cosmic stories—and of Thanos especially. It’s funny because I don’t think Jordan knew that when he asked if I wanted to join the project. But I have to admit that when I got that call, I nearly cried when he told me which book I’d be working on. It really is such a dream come true to work with the Mad Titan. I’m a kid in a candy store on this project.

Marvel.com: Thanos has a big fan base despite being a “bad guy.” What do you think makes him so appealing to readers?

Donny Cates: I think Thanos’ goals are so clear, understandable—and disturbingly relatable! That being said, everyone likes a bad guy, and everyone can be attracted to a bad guy whose goals are as…cosmically abstract as Thanos’ are. He’s a curious beast, because what he wants—his biggest goals in life—are so horrific and cruel, but ultimately he does everything out of love. It’s just fascinating to watch. He’s endlessly layered and complex, but at the same time he’s straightforward and brutal.

Marvel.com: How did you and Geoff Shaw first meetand what’s it like working in the Marvel Universe with him?

Donny Cates: Geoff and I actually met back in art school at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Geoff was this phenom artist and just an amazing guy, and I knew even back then that he was going to be something special; someone important. I wanted to work with him from the first moment I saw his work, and first got my chance with a book we did called Buzzkill. Since then, we’ve done three books together, and over the years we’ve become really close friends. I am honored to have him at my side on our first big adventure into the Marvel cosmos. It’s so comforting knowing that he’s here. I love that Shaw fella!

Marvel.com: What do the two of you have planned for the Mad Titan?

Donny Cates: We have some pretty insane plans! When I first turned in my outline for the book, I was certain Marvel was going to make me tame it down or alter it—just because of the massive scope of everything. I put in all of the characters and big moments that I’ve always wanted to play with. I turned my synopsis in, and to my utter shock—and joy—all these insane things were approved.

We really went big with the Thanos Wins arc—and the subsequent arcs that follow it. It’s really so much fun. Going big is the only way to deal with Thanos. Go big or go home.

Marvel.com: The previous THANOS series featured several regular supporting characters that constituted a “family,” including Nebula, Starfox, and Thane. Which supporting characters might we see in your book?

Donny Cates: I really can’t comment on this one actually, as a huge part of this upcoming arc depends on some rather shocking supporting characters. Rest assured, however, that as a massive Thanos fan myself, I want to get my hands on all of his supporting cast at some point. That being said, keep your eyes peeled for some great new characters as well. That’s been the best part of all of this for me—getting to add to this incredible cosmic cast. I think people are going to have a great time with this book. I know I am!

THANOS #13, by Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw, drops on November 22!

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Donny Cates conjures up magical plans for Marvel Legacy Doctor Strange!

After battling the magic-purging forces of the Empirikul and being held captive in a Darkforce prison during the events of Secret Empire, you might think Doctor Strange would need a vacation. Well, at the outset of Marvel Legacy, the Doctor is out—and Loki is more than willing to take his spot!

The God of Mischief becomes the new Sorcerer Supreme on November 15 as writer Donny Cates and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta take the reins of DOCTOR STRANGE with issue #381!

We spoke with Donny to hear a few whispers about what to expect when the Lord of Lies becomes the chief master of magic in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: Writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bachalo put Stephen Strange through the ringer recently, culminating with the Doctor getting locked in a Darkforce prison by Captain America. Does the poor guy get any downtime before Loki steals his job?

Donny Cates: Oh not at all! [Laughs] The Doctor has had a pretty rough year, and I’m sad to report that I’m not much nicer to him than the previous captains of this ship! But that’s not to say this arc isn’t going to be fun, because honestly, when you have both Stephen Strange and Loki in the same book, it’s just going to be so much fun. And so, so weird!

Marvel.com: So how does Loki end up as Sorcerer Supreme?

Donny Cates: You know I can’t tell you that! I’ll say this, though: we do not tease out and play coy with the way that that Loki achieves. It’s stated upfront, and honestly, in the first issue of my run.

Or is it? I mean, he is the Prince of Lies, right?

Marvel.com: Given Strange’s recent problemsnot to mention the compromised state of his magical powershow will he handle the Asgardian trickster?

Donny Cates: Not well. In a lot of ways, this story shares its roots in the origin of DOCTOR STRANGE itself. With his ego laid low—and his previous profession taken away from him—he heads on a new journey of self-discovery that will challenge him to grow stronger and reclaim his life and his identity.

Marvel.com: Speaking of which, this seems like it might be a good opportunity for a crossover. Will we see any other Asgardians in the title?

Donny Cates: Well, I might be the biggest THOR fan alive, so if that were to happen, I would certainly love writing such a thing.

Marvel.com: What’s it like working alongside artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta and colorist Jordie Bellaire on this title?

Donny Cates: Unbelievable. Honestly, people are not going to believe the art coming from Gabriel and Jordie on this book. The most frustrating thing is that I can’t just share all of this amazing artwork with the world as soon as it hits my inbox. I think I can speak for the entire team when I say our days essentially grind to a halt when Gabriel turns in pages. We all just stop what we’re doing and stare at this gorgeous art that he’s made. It’s unreal.

And Jordie! I don’t have the words to express how excited I am to finally work with one of my favorite creators in the industry. I’m very, very fortunate to be working with this crew. I’m fighting above my weight class for sure! Just doing my best to keep up with these artistic titans.

Marvel.com: You recently mentioned how much you enjoyed writing a despicable Captain America when discussing your collaboration with Nick Spencer on Steve Rogers: Captain America #18. And now, between THANOS and Loki, you’re working on two titles featuring bad guys in prominent roles—what makes villains so much fun to write?

Donny Cates: I had a blast writing Cap. I co-wrote that scene of him addressing the United Nations, and I just channeled my inner pro wrestler and went nuts.

With Loki, though, I think it’s important to realize that he’s no longer the mustache-twirling bad guy of old. He really is trying to atone for the sins of his past, you know? Kieron Gillen‘s JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY run is a wonderful story that really exemplifies that sentiment. I love that run, and it’s become a touchstone for me when writing the character. The wonderful thing about Loki these days is that, while he is trying his best to change his ways and be a better god, no one on Earth (or in any realm, really) trusts him as far as they can throw him.

So it’s a constant exercise in restraint for our trickster friend. He’s not used to having to bite his tongue and suffer people’s judgment—but at the same time, he very much understands that this general mistrust is his own doing; that he sowed those seeds himself in a past life. So he’s a very interesting character to play with, and I think his role in all of this new story will surprise a lot of people.

DOCTOR STRANGE #381, by Donny Cates and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, hits shelves on November 15!

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