Not all superheroes are mutants, billionaires, or aliens from distant planets, some are have seriously impressive supernatural powers. And, when Marvel Comics opened the doors of a new school for magic users in new title Strange Academy, it made us think about the superheroes who rely on magic over brawn.
After Doctor Strange - the school's namesake - is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to magic wielding superheroes. So, say the magic words and wave your hands as we materialize our list of the ten greatest magic using superheroes of all time.
While not necessarily a wizard by trade, Hellboy has extensive knowledge of the supernatural... and being the son of a demon doesn't hurt with his magical prowess, we're sure.
"Red" has had a string of limited series along the way to both live-action and animated film stardom, as well as spinoffs including the years-long B.P.R.D..
He's fought demon after demon, as well as a plethora of creatures from different folklore around the globe. What keeps Hellboy so alluring is the imagery that Mike Mignola first embedded in our brains 20+ years ago: the environments and landscapes of Hell, along with Hellboy's massive silhouette, and the fact that despite his bestial form, Mignola and a slew of creators over the years have made him seem human.
9. Scarlet Witch
Oh, Wanda. The origins of your powers are so back and forth, you almost didn't make the cut.
She was originally born with the mutant ability to generate "hex spheres/bolts" that could manipulate probability, then she was a caster of Chaos Magic, and then some sort of combination of the two.
Though her powers aren't magic-based in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (nor particularly clearly defined), in comic books, Wanda Maximoff is one of the most powerful magic users in the entire Marvel Universe.
8. Ghost Rider
Like Hellboy, Ghost Rider isn't specifically a magic user, but his powers are uniquely supernatural - and infernal.
Ghost Rider is the name of a few prominent Marvel characters, starting with Johnny Blaze in the 1970s in the modern era - the subsequent lore has established "Ghost Rider" as a title for those that host the Spirit of Vengeance dating back to the earliest, prehistoric days of the Marvel Universe.
With his flaming, ghastly vehicle - classically a motorcycle but the current guy drives a car, and we've even seen mounts like horses and mammoths - Ghost Rider dishes out his brutal Penance Stare to those who deserve vengeance, forcing them to feel the torment of every wrong they've ever caused.
7. The Demon, Etrigan
"Gone, gone the form of man! Rise the Demon Etrigan!"
Created by Jack Kirby in the early 70s, Etrigan and his human host, Jason Blood, have been staples in the magical scene of DC since their debut.
Etrigan's ties to Arthurian legend give him a prestigious, mythical feel, and being a demon, his powers are pretty profound, His hellfire breath is notoriously powerful; although, in Etrigan form, he has the same weaknesses as other demons, including being susceptible to iron and holy powers.
6. Timothy Hunter
With his round glasses, dark hair, and pet owl, Tim Hunter is often mistaken for Harry Potter's twin (though he predates the boy who lived). And while Neil Gaiman and J. K. Rowling may have been drinking from the same well, the two couldn't be any more different.
Tim Hunter was the star of DC/Vertigo's Books of Magic series that told the story of Tim's destiny to be the greatest wizard of his age. Along the way he met magical guest stars like a blonde Zatanna, John Constantine, Merlin, Phantom Stranger, and of course, Death of the Endless.
Books of Magic itself was basically a comic dedicated to the mystical and magical characters of the DC universe interacting and engaging with one another, with Tim as the central character - the heir apparent to DC's magic.
A new Books of Magic series focuses on a rebooted version of Tim Hunter as part of DC's Sandman Universe pop-up.
5. Dr. Fate
There have been more than a handful of characters who have worn the Helm of Nabu and been bestowed the mantle of Dr. Fate, all of them powerful in their own right.
The spellcasting abilities actually come from the helmet, but the rest of the costume doesn't leave the wearer totally defenseless, giving them flight, super strength, and limited telekinesis to go with their mystic prowess.
Dr. Fate remains a staple supporting character of the DC Universe, recently appearing as a cast member of the 'Rebirth'-era Blue Beetle title.
4. John Constantine
Once one of the core characters of DC's Vertigo line, John Constantine has had his share of magical adventures without really using magic at all.
Though Constantine is quite an adept sorcerer, his primary skills are sleight-of-hand and hypnosis - though he is known for busting out his hellfire cigarette lighter and necromantic incantations when things get a bit thick.
His occult knowledge has come in handy countless times when aiding fellow supernatural beings and humans alike. Constantine's title Hellblazer left its mark over at Vertigo before Constantine joined the core DC Universe in the "New 52" era as part of Justice League Dark.
Constantine returned last fall in a new ongoing under DC's Sandman Universe pop-up.
DC's Mistress of Magic. Everyone's favorite fishnet-clad, raven-haired, sassy sorceress. Created in 1964 by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson, Zatanna was involved in DC's first major crossover, as she searched for her father, the famed magician Zatara, who was a character back in the World War II era.
Instead of relaunching Zatara as DC had done characters like Green Lantern and the Flash (giving them more sci-fi based origins this time around, and igniting the Silver Age), DC created a completely different character entirely to take the magician's mantle.
Zatanna's powers have shifted over the years from powerful spellcasting to just controlling the elements and everything in-between, but her magic is pretty much always verbally controlled by speaking her spells backwards (ekil siht), but during the rare occasions that she's rendered voiceless, she can write out what she needs - backwards and in her own blood - and it works just the same.
2. Doctor Strange
Stephen Strange started out as a renowned neurosurgeon who lost his way and found a new life as Earth's Sorcerer Supreme. Trained by the Ancient One in the mystical arts, Dr. Strange was given powerful artifacts, most notably the Eye of Agamotto to aid in his quest to stop the threat of malevolent warlocks and demonic entities alike.
Strange has been a member of the Avengers, Defenders, Midnight Sons, and the Illuminati, making him a central figure in Marvel lore. Though he has lost the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme more than once along the way, he's always managed to prove his worth and retain it once more. His powers are unsurpassed in the Marvel Universe ranging from astral projection and telepathy to stopping time and unconsciously destroying galaxies.
Strange is also a key player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a major part in Avengers: Infinity War, Endgame, and his own solo film series.
1. Lord Morpheus, Dream of the Endless
While the others on this list are conjurers of magic, Dream is the physical manifestation of dreams and stories. Now we're talking serious magic.
Dream is one of the Endless, created (mostly) by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg in the 1980s (Destiny is an older DC character who was adapted to the tale). They are all inconceivably powerful beings, older than gods, and each a manifestation of a universal constant. Morpheus reigns over dreams and his own realm called the Dreaming, his powers more cerebral than physical.
When we're introduced to him in the first arc of Sandman, we see what he is capable of. He tricked the Devil himself and let his enemies suffer with eternal nightmares. He's prideful and angry, and conscious of his responsibilities, yet does not accept, nor want change. His magic is infinite, and when he died, he was reborn into infant Daniel Hall with even greater power.
Gaiman is notoriously protective of Morpheus, arguably his most beloved creation, so his appearances since his original series wrapped have been limited. Gaiman did return to the character last year with a special anniversary mini-series entitled Sandman: Overture - and the Sandman mythos serves as the anchor of the current DC Sandman Universe pop-up.