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Marvel Comics killed off Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, and Dr. Strange right before their MCU returns …. or did they?

The Trial of Magneto #2
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Well, okay, so much for those big Marvel comic book deaths.

For you readers who may find the headline to this story familiar, Newsarama published a previous story about Marvel's unusual and noteworthy strategy of killing off Peter Parker/Spider-Man, the Scarlet Witch, and Doctor Strange at about the same time as one another and all right before the MCU versions characters were returning in December's Spider-Man: No Way Home and March's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

But while we speculated as to what their deaths might mean for the Marvel Universe and the MCU, we noted there was always the possibility the comic book characters were not really dying at all.

December's The Trial of Magneto #5 (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Because, as we said at the time … comic books.

"There are a few potential explanations for this unusual development," we wrote a few months back.

"One is just that Strange, Peter, and Wanda aren't dead/dying at all, and The Death of Doctor Strange, the Amazing Spider-Man storyline, and this current X-Men story arc will end in twists on the premise the characters are dead or dying. Such marketing misdirection is not unprecedented."

It remains to be seen exactly how much "not unprecedented" turns out to be prescient, but to delve into it all further, we have to provide a spoiler warning for September 15's The Trial of Magneto #2 and September 22's The Death of Doctor Strange #1. So…

Spoilers ahead for both...

Now that we got that out of the way...

As you may or may not know by now, Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange both did die. And interestingly, in strikingly similar manners that we have our eye on.

But we miscalculated that the respective storylines would end in twists on the premise they were really dead. Because both are already back.

Well ... sort of.

Wanda was resurrected (but with a lot of unanswered questions about the nature of her return) in the second issue of the five-issue The Trial of Magneto, and Strange 'returned' in the very first issue of similar five-issue The Death of Doctor Strange, albeit a younger 'Year One' version of himself. 

The Death of Doctor Strange #1 excerpt

image from The Death of Doctor Strange #1 (Image credit: Lee Garbett/Antonio Fabela/Cory Petit (Marvel Comics))

And while Wanda's chronological body might be the same, but her mind may also be of a younger version of herself as well.

[Who killed the Scarlet Witch? Looking at the key suspects]

So yes, both technically did die, but for the moment both are back via mutant resurrection protocols and magic.

The Trial of Magneto #2

image from The Trial of Magneto #2  (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

And as for Spider-Man, Marvel was a little more ambiguous about his fate from the start, never fully committing to the premise Peter Parker would outright die. But the publisher was perfectly happy for its readers to draw that conclusion based on its marketing of the Amazing Spider-Man October issues.

December's Amazing Spider-Man #82 cover (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

But as of Marvel's December 2021 solicitations released September 15, we have some clarity on that issue as well. Peter is apparently only hurt and hospitalized, not dead. And in a new December cover image, he's not only seen off the ventilator as per a previous cover image that implied his ultimate fate was undetermined, but he's also well enough to wall-crawl outside the window of his hospital room, to avoid a would-be assailant.

Ben Reilly is definitely assuming the role of a Spider-Man in October but it no longer appears Peter will die or even be out of the picture in the core Spider-Man titles in the immediate future to any significant degree.

Now as we say, we acknowledged in our original story that Marvel had outs in place if they didn't actually plan on any or all of the characters being dead in the comic books while their big-screen counterparts returned. And so it's only fair we acknowledge the same can be true in reverse.

Wanda's resurrection is controversial within the mutant community and seems to be something of a tipping point for Jonathan Hickman's X-Men swan song Inferno. And given the complicated nature of her status as a mutant and the mutant resurrection protocols themselves, it may be premature to assume 100% Wanda is back for good.

What can be done can be undone.

The Death of Doctor Strange #4 cover (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

And the same can be said for Strange. Marvel is promising a 'new' Sorcerer Supreme in December's The Death of Doctor Strange #4, but we don't know if it'll be the young version of Strange Newsarama has dubbed 'Doogie Strange.' He may be a plot device limited to the series and the Marvel Universe may indeed be without Stephen Strange (any Stephen Strange) by its end.

If he is replaced, we have some ideas as to who may assume the role of Sorcerer Supreme, and the idea that it should and will be Wanda is back on the table

As to Peter Parker, he seems in the least danger of actually being removed from the comic books in any fashion, particularly with his 60th anniversary coming up in 2022 which Marvel has already signaled it plans to celebrate in a big way.

(For the record, Stephen Strange and the Scarlet Witch will turn 60 in 2023 and 2024, respectively.)

So while the status quo of all three of these characters still bears watching as we approach No Way Home and The Multiverse of Madness, the landscape has significantly changed in just the last few days. 

But we'll keep our eyes on things...

Whichever way this all turns out, Newsarama hopes Marvel finally allows Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch to be the hero of her own story

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.