The Sorcerer Supreme is com­ing to do big-screen magic.

So just who is DOC­TOR STRANGE With a movie on the way, Nick Setch­field casts the runes to re­veal the se­crets of Marvel’s weird­est su­per­hero...

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Doc­tor Strange wasn’t the first oc­cult-flavoured su­per­hero in comic books. No­table pre­de­ces­sors in­clude Zatara, who de­buted along­side Su­per­man in

Ac­tion Comics #1 in 1938, fel­low DC su­per­nat­u­ral­ist Dr Fate and dap­per necro­mancer Man­drake the Ma­gi­cian, who starred in his own news­pa­per strip from 1934. He wasn’t the first master of the mys­tic arts in the Marvel Uni­verse, either. Doc­tor Droom ap­peared in Amaz­ing

Ad­ven­tures #1 in 1961. Later re­named Doc­tor Druid, his ori­gin story shared el­e­ments with Strange’s own. “I al­ways liked [Doc­tor Droom], but I for­got about him,” con­fessed Stan Lee.

Doc­tor Strange wasn’t even Marvel’s first Doc­tor Strange.

Tales Of Sus­pense story “The Strong­hold Of Doc­tor Strange” saw Iron Man bat­tle a vil­lain­ous sci­en­tist given men­tal pow­ers by a freak light­ning strike. This Doc­tor Strange ap­peared a mere two months be­fore his sor­cer­ous suc­ces­sor claimed the name.

Spi­der-Man artist Steve Ditko con­jured the ini­tial idea. “On my own, I brought in to Lee a five-page, pen­cilled story with a page/panel script of my idea of a new, dif­fer­ent kind of char­ac­ter for va­ri­ety in Marvel Comics,” the leg­en­dar­ily reclu­sive comics cre­ator re­vealed in 2008. Back in 1963 Stan Lee ad­mit­ted it was “Steve’s idea and I fig­ured we’d give it a chance.”

Strange was named for the comic that birthed him. First pub­lished in 1951, Strange Tales tra­di­tion­ally de­liv­ered the kind of twist-packed, Twilight Zone style shock­ers that were Marvel’s forte be­fore the Fan­tas­tic Four changed ev­ery­thing. Lee toyed with chris­ten­ing him Mr Strange but thought it was too close to the FF’s Mr Fan­tas­tic.

Tilda Swin­ton’s An­cient One clearly isn’t for the old folks’ home just yet.

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