Doctor Strange is dead, long live the Sorcerer Supreme - whoever that winds up being now that Strange is singing tenor for the choir invisible, having been murdered in September 22's The Death of Doctor Strange #1.
Marvel is accepting applications for the executive position of protecting the Earth from mystical threats, a 24/7 full-time job that will require the most qualified candidate the mystical Vishanti can find.
And we're running out of time to find out who that will be, with the new Sorcerer Supreme to be named in December 29's Death of Doctor Strange #4 before going on to star in a new ongoing series starting in March.
Despite the somewhat shocking fact Strange hasn't actually died or been killed in mainstream comic book continuity before this event series, he's resigned as the Marvel Universe's Sorcerer Supreme or has had the mantle taken from him before. And as Marvel readers know, there have been many Sorcerers Supremes before him since the dawn of intelligent life on Earth.
So who in the Marvel Universe has both the mystical abilities and straight-up cojones to follow in Strange's very large magical footsteps? Who has the raw power, the experience, and/or the pure determination to inherit the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto and take up residence at the Sanctum Sanctorum as Earth's latest and greatest Sorcerer Supreme?
Here's Newsarama's look at who we think has a shot at the title - including a few possibilities you might not immediately think of.
Agatha Harkness is one of the most elder magical beings in Marvel Comics, with a lifespan possibly going back eons. In that time, she's become a master of the Marvel magical discipline of witchcraft, even mentoring Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch.
The comic book Agatha's not as much of a villain as she is in the MCU's WandaVision, though she does have a bit of a diabolical streak. That's never stopped any of the previous Sorcerers Supreme from holding the mantle - in fact, it seems a bit of grey morality helps quite a bit. And Agatha also recently returned from her own time being dead, which means she's available.
Nico Minoru of the Runaways (opens in new tab) stumbled her way into magic by inheriting the Staff of One, a magical artifact that lets its wielder cast any spell they can imagine - but can only cast a given spell once, meaning the wielder must always dream up new ways to tap into its full potential. Fortunately, Nico took to the Staff with natural aptitude, and since wielding it, she's increased her wider magical knowledge.
Given her inexperience, Nico may be a longshot for the new Sorcerer Supreme. But her possession of the Staff of One, and her own death and resurrection, which left her with much greater magical power, mean that she could have the ability if not yet the wisdom necessary for the job. That said, with Runaways ended, Nico may be looking for a new place to appear.
Wiccan of the Young Avengers (opens in new tab) is a mutant whose power involves intuitively channeling magic to alter the world around him - a talent he sorta inherited from his mother, Wanda Maximoff. But he's also grown to become much more of a learned sorcerer, with his own magical knowledge and power. As the scion of a line of natural magic-users known as the Demiurge, Wiccan definitely has the power and skills on tap to take up the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme - especially if the Ancient One chooses to mentor him as he once mentored Stephen Strange.
Wiccan's biggest obstacle to the title is his station as the royal consort of the Kree/Skrull Alliance, led by Wiccan's half-Skrull, half-Kree, all cosmic husband, Hulkling. Wiccan and Hulkling have led separate lives while maintaining their relationship before, but Wiccan's title comes with duties to the empire and his husband, meaning he may not have the time (or inclination) to add the job of Earth's Sorcerer Supreme to his plate. Still, he's been shown as taking the title in the future - could this be his moment to take up the mantle?
Doctor Doom is often considered Marvel's greatest villain (an assessment Newsarama doesn't argue with), and part of his intense menace comes from his mastery not just of science, but of magic. In fact, it's been said that Doom is second only to Strange himself in terms of magical ability, and indeed the two have faced off (and even teamed up) to test their magical prowess before. And in a glimpse of an alternate near-future timeline, Doom has been shown to inherit the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme in at least one corner of the Multiverse.
Current events also have to be considered along with his candidacy. In the upcoming Darkhold story set in the recent past, he's pitting his magical abilities against fellow Sorcerer Supreme candidate Wanda Maximoff. And in the just-concluded Guardians of the Galaxy ongoing series...
spoilers ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy #18 ...
... Doom joined the team to defeat Dormammu who had merged with Ego the Living Planet to become a cosmic threat.
During the issue's final pages, Doom reveals through his role in helping defeat Dormammu he's leveled up by obtaining a portion of Dormammu's power, more than the Guardians realize.
Doom says the power is bound to his armor until he chooses to unlock it and refers to it as a potent weapon he'll keep to himself until the proper moment.
Will the proper moment be to seize the title of Sorcerer Supreme given how likely it is he'll be offered it outright?
That can't be discounted, but Doom's plans seem more geared towards what he calls a "moment of reckoning," which seems in reference to the January 2022-launching Fantastic Four-centric 'Reckoning War' event, a follow-up to the original Secret Wars maxi-series in which Doom gained omnipotence but the power was taken away from him.
But either which way he's got the will, the skill, and the hubris to believe himself the only proper candidate for Sorcerer Supreme.
Jericho Drumm, AKA Doctor Voodoo (opens in new tab), seems like a potential shoo-in for the job of Sorcerer Supreme following Strange's death, as he's the only other living person to have been granted the title. A few years ago, when Strange was unable to fulfill his duties as Sorcerer Supreme, the mantle was awarded to Doctor Voodoo, a semi-obscure '70s hero who has gone on to become a longstanding Avenger and one of Marvel's most powerful sorcerers.
Voodoo held the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme until he died in a duel with none other than Agamotto, one of the magical beings known as the Vishanti who choose the Sorcerer Supreme, while Agamotto was on a rampage. The title then returned to Strange. And while Doctor Voodoo has since been resurrected, the idea of the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme flip-flopping back and forth so predictably may be the biggest out-of-story reason this may not come to pass.
Wanda Maximoff/The Scarlet Witch
We know what you're thinking - like Doctor Strange is about to be, Wanda Maximoff is dead, her murder the central mystery of the limited series The Trial of Magneto (which has its own list of suspects to analyze). But the first issue of The Trial of Magneto hinted that the Scarlet Witch may not be exactly as dead as she seems - this is comic books, after all - and Marvel's November solicitations confirm that there's a chance she'll be back sooner than we realize.
And now we gotta step in with a newly-inserted spoiler warning here...
Spoilers ahead for The Trial of Magneto #2...
... still with us? Because yes, the reason it seemed like there was a chance she'd be back was because that's exactly what's happened.
In the September 15 release, Wanda indeed returns from the dead, albeit with some question marks attached.
For a while before her truncated surprise death-return cycle (rapid, even by comic book standards), it seemed Marvel was gearing Wanda up to take on Strange's mantle following his own whodunnit murder, boosting her power levels and profile with the upcoming Darkhold event, which is now said to canonically take place before her death.
If we're being totally honest, Wanda is long overdue for a shot at something like the title of Sorcerer Supreme, considering her power levels and history. And if Marvel really wants to surprise us, they may just give her a chance. With the Wanda-centric Darkhold flashback story on the horizon, there may be a perfect opportunity to set up the twist already in Marvel's plans.
But as we say, how The Darkhold and Trial of Magneto stories ultimately jive with one another remains to be seen. And then there are the similarities between the murders of Wanda and Doctor Strange, and whether they're just narrative coincidences or part of a bigger plan.
Either way, Wanda is once again not only a viable candidate, but perhaps a leading one.
Like Wanda Maximoff, the likelihood is that Stephen Strange won't stay truly dead for long, being a Marvel A-lister with a major MCU movie sequel on the way. And on some level, the question, therefore, has to be, will he even be dead long enough to actually be replaced as Sorcerer Supreme?
Strange's last will and testament requests some Marvel heroes fill in for him in the event of his death, as seen in the one-shots tying into the Death of Doctor Strange limited series. There's a legitimate chance that Doctor Strange will be back in action before a new Sorcerer Supreme can even be chosen, with his absence filled in by the heroes he enlisted.
And the Death of Doctor Strange actually left readers with another wrinkle to this possibility.
Spoilers ahead for The Death of Doctor Strange #1...
Doctor Strange actually does return on the final page of the first issue, albeit in a slightly different form.
As we detailed here and as you can see above, a younger Stephen Strange, circa November 1963 through December 1964 (which translates to his first year on comic book time meaning he's not even the Sorcerer Supreme yet), appears at the end.
He appears as something of a failsafe backup plan he put in place in the event of his own death and now it's been put into action.(opens in new tab)
There is a lot of story left and it's too early to say if this younger Strange will stick around, but there is now the possibility Stephen Strange will be the Sorcerer Supreme come December while Marvel still technically fulfills their marketing promise of a 'new' Sorcerer Supreme.
Got that straight?
And then there is the fact that the new March-debuting ongoing series in which Marvel promises "a new Sorcerer Supreme will rise" is called 'Strange.'
Remember, "Strange" isn't part of a title that's passed down like the Sorcerer Supreme - it's Stephen Strange's actual surname.
Who better to replace Stephen Strange as Sorcerer Supreme than the person who's been at his side for almost his entire career, Wong? Certainly, few people have a better understanding of what it takes to be Sorcerer Supreme, and the ins and outs of actually doing the job - not to mention the secrets of the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Wong has a much higher profile in the MCU than he does in the Marvel comic book universe, with a fan-favorite supporting role in Doctor Strange, and a cameo role in the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. His growing profile among fans is as good an argument as any to consider Marvel may elevate his comic book role, and he's one of the best-qualified candidates to boot.
Loki has never been chosen as the true Sorcerer Supreme by the Vishanti, the magical guardians who place candidates in the role. But true to his nature as an Asgardian trickster, he did once stage an illusory tournament with Doctor Strange, convincing him that he had lost the title of Sorcerer Supreme fair and square under the Vishanti's supervision, and tricking him into handing over the keys to the Sanctum Sanctorum in the story Doctor Strange: God of Magic (opens in new tab).
But now that Strange actually needs a replacement in the role, Loki could be a candidate to actually inherit the title of Sorcerer Supreme. His time holding the title under false pretenses showed he understands what it takes - even if his tempestuous nature which led to his eventual mistakes while taking Strange's place could ultimately disqualify him for a future shot at the job.
Every realm and reality in Marvel's Multiverse has its own Sorcerer Supreme, and the Dark Dimension, home of Doctor Strange's mortal foe the dread Dormammu, is no exception. Currently, the Sorcerer Supreme of the Dark Dimension is none other than Dormammu's own niece Clea, who is also Strange's ally and former lover. She was also depicted as the future Sorcerer Supreme of Earth in the storyline Earth X (opens in new tab).
Though her duties in the Dark Dimension, where she's locked in a struggle with Dormammu for control and the title of Sorcerer Supreme, may prevent her from taking the job on Earth, she has spent quite a bit of time here alongside Strange and was his apprentice for a while. If the pendulum swings again, and Dormammu takes hold of the Dark Dimension, Clea may find herself called upon to protect the Earth.
Much like Clea, Margali Szardos is the Sorcerer Supreme of another realm, in her case the Winding Way - a fairy-like realm of wild magic. Margali Szardos is mostly known through her associations with the X-Men team Excalibur (opens in new tab) and their leader Captain Britain, but she holds the distinction of having been the bearer of the mystical Eye of Agamotto before Doctor Strange.
Though she's tied to the Winding Way, Szardos may have once been a human born of Earth (her origins are a bit mysterious), meaning she could also have connections to Earth that might make its fate her personal business. To that end, she's often aided against magical threats to Earth, including once when Strange himself was magically cursed. For all that, Margali Szardos may be one of the best suited, if least likely, Marvel magic-wielders to step into the role of Earth's Sorcerer Supreme.
Illyana Rasputin, the mutant known as Magik, possesses the mutant power of teleportation. But her power over magic comes not from ingrained talent, but by hard-fought knowledge paid for with blood, sweat, and tears thanks to a childhood spent in Limbo as the captive of the demon known as Belasco.
As the resident master of magic among mutantkind (living up to her codename), Magik's loyalty to Krakoa and the X-Men may be the only thing potentially standing in her way as one of the best possible candidates for Sorcerer Supreme. Along with her childhood in Limbo, Magik has trained with Doctor Strange - and even once defeated him in a fight during Avengers Vs. X-Men (opens in new tab). And she is even the Sorcerer Supreme of Limbo. So she'd be somewhat like a CEO of a mid-size corporation being recruited to head up a larger one.
But would she take the job if a mystical headhunter showed up with an offer?
Morgan le Fay
Nearly all of the possible candidates for Sorcerer Supreme - even dastardly Doctor Doom - would ultimately possess the same dedication to the job of protecting Earth from magical threats as Doctor Strange, if not the same methods and morals. But Morgan le Fay, an evil sorcerer who has been a magical menace to the Marvel Universe since the days of King Arthur, would undoubtedly shirk the job in favor of her own selfish ends.
As powerful as Morgan le Fay is - and make no mistake, she's extremely powerful - she's just as diabolical and driven by her lust for power. It's those qualities that might disqualify her before she even gets a chance to do a poor job, however.
Spider-Man may be just about the least likely possible replacement for Doctor Strange who still has somewhat of a chance to land the job of Sorcerer Supreme. Not only is he, well, not a sorcerer, but the Spidey under the mask when Strange's last will and testament recruits the Wall-Crawler and other heroes to help defend Earth after his death won't even be Peter Parker, the Spider-Man that Strange has been friends with since the '60s.
Instead, it'll be Ben Reilly, who will become the main Spider-Man, and star of Amazing Spider-Man, in the upcoming 'Spider-Man Beyond' era. Of course, it would be kinda funny and unexpected if Ben Reilly somehow found his way stumbling into the role, as unlikely as that is - especially considering there are reports that the upcoming movie Spider-Man: No Way Home will pair Peter Parker up with Strange for some magical tutelage.
It might also be worth noting that in the September 8 episode of the Disney Plus streaming series What If...? Strange's Cloak of Levitation chooses to pair itself with Peter, and Hope Van Dyne comments that it looks good on him. Action figures of Peter with the cloak are even being sold.
But that might be reading too much into the moment as the cloak later pairs with another character.
A previous Sorcerer Supreme
There have been numerous Sorcerers Supreme since the dawn of the Marvel Universe, though each world of the Multiverse only has one Sorcerer Supreme - usually changing hands when someone dies or retires, or occasionally when a Sorcerer Supreme is disgraced from the job. But there have been those who have returned temporarily, or teamed up across time, as in the title Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme (opens in new tab).
Considering that when comic books and magic are involved, anything is possible (maybe even more than usual), could one of the former, more prominent Sorcerers Supreme take Strange's place? The list includes such luminaries as current lead character Spirit Rider (opens in new tab), Strange's teacher the Ancient One, King Arthur's court mage Merlin, the Marvel version of real-world scientist Sir Isaac Newton, and Sebastian Shaw's ancestor Hiram Shaw of Salem Massachusetts - any of whom could be powerful enough to pull it off.
Will Death of Doctor Strange wind up among the best Doctor Strange stories of all time?