Doctor Strange is going to die…
We have no doubts about that.
Such are the lives (and often the many deaths) and careers of Marvel and DC superheroes and villains, where being dead is often a temporary inconvenience.
Only the exact nature and ultimate duration of his death remains to be seen.
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But The Death of Doctor Strange, the five-issue series that debuts in September, has an interesting dynamic worth some extra consideration: the limited series will likely conclude in January, just a few weeks before Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange returns to the MCU in March 25’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Close observers of the mighty Marvel media machine know Marvel Comics will often time the release of new comic books and collections to correspond to big movie and TV releases. But in case – ‘killing’ the character just as ‘mainstream’ interest in him will almost certainly rise – is a bit off the beaten marketing path and Marvel almost certainly has a strategy in mind.
The only question is what is that strategy.
Case in point: After over a calendar year in publishing limbo due to global pandemic delays, the Darkhold limited series has returned to Marvel’s schedule. Originally scheduled to debut before Disney Plus’s WandaVision in 2020, Darkhold will now also debut in September with the bookend one-shot Darkhold Alpha #1, followed by five character one-shots and concluding with the bookend Darkhold Omega #1, likely in January 2022 … just in time for … wait for it … Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
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Now, the Darkhold storyline doesn’t star or feature Doctor Strange as far as Marvel has indicated (he’ll be concurrently busy in the new Defenders limited series along with the series that will seemingly kill him), but it does star perhaps the two of the three most likely characters to assume the Marvel Universe’s mantle of Sorcerer Supreme if and when it goes up for grabs. The first of the three is Loki, who fairly recently held the mantle in the comic books (opens in new tab).
The second and who does appear in Darkhold is Doctor Doom, who has briefly held the title before and is always looking for additional power and prestige wherever he can find it. And finally, the third is Scarlet Witch, which given what we know of WandaVision and her role in The Multiverse of Madness, cannot go ignored.
The timing of it all is almost certainly not a coincidence.
Or at least so we thought when we first published this story. But then she died. And we had to rethink our premise.
But now we might have to rethink our rethink…
Give us a moment.
The Darkhold event, which prominently features Wanda recruiting heroes to try to wrestle the titular book of dark magic written by the other-dimensional demon Chthon from Doom, has parallels with the conclusion of WandaVision, in which the newly ‘crowned’ embodiment of chaos magic the Scarlet Witch is seen reading from the MCU version of the book in the streaming show’s final scene.
The newly powered-up and now Darkhold-versed Wanda is, of course, the co-star of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which makes it … or made it … all the more likely Marvel Comics may try to capitalize on the moment by having the Scarlet Witch win the title of Sorcerer Supreme in the wake of the Darkhold event and after the Doctor Strange’s death.
But there’s been a twist.
In fact, two twists …
Spoilers ahead for September 15’s The Trial of Magneto #2
The Scarlet Witch was murdered and her body discovered in June’s X-Factor #10. And if you didn’t actually read the story, Marvel likely found a way to let you know she had been killed.
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She was seemingly murdered by her father-not-father Magneto, the prime suspect in The Trial of Magneto limited series, but readers can probably expect a twist there as well.
Newsarama previously established that the Darkhold series takes place before the events of the Hellfire Gala, so that was never a conflict, but before her death we speculated that it looked increasingly likely that Wanda would win the title of Sorceror Supreme and would be the latest and perhaps most important stepping stone in her journey in comic books from a minor mutant character with often inexplicable, undefined powers, to a frequent victim/pawn of villains like Chthon, Mephisto, and Doctor Doom, to a fully self-realized character in control of her own destiny and one of the most powerful and important superheroes in the entire Marvel Universe.
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The last 20 minutes or so of the WandaVision series finale featured a Scarlet Witch who, through her journey of loss, suffering, and realization has emerged as a confident, assured hero who seems ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Doctor Strange, and perhaps take on whatever the multiverse has to throw at her to rescue her children Billy and Tommy (who, by the way, are alive and well in the comic books).
Like her comic book counterpart, the live-action Wanda also seemed poised to emerge as one of her world’s most powerful figures. But then comic book Wanda was killed, and taking over the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme seemed unlikely given its impracticality.
But now’s she’s back… or at least a Scarlet Witch is back anyway
Because in true comic book fashion, she’s been resurrected, seemingly due to the mutant resurrection protocols, albeit with some question marks.
Check out our story on The Trial of Magneto #2 for the full details (most of which are still to be revealed), but once again it’s been demonstrated anything can happen in comic books and often does.
In a previous version of this story while she was dead we suggested there was still plenty of wiggle room for Wanda to still succeed Doctor Strange early in 2022, and Marvel has apparently wiggled.
And now we might even have some possible connections between the murders of Wanda and Doctor Strange.
Suffice it to say there are still a ton of questions to be answered about the state of the current Scarlet Witch and how that might affect her preparedness to become the next Sorcerer Supreme. But the biggest obstacle has been overcome.
She’s alive again, which likely moves her back up to the top of the list.
Speaking of that list, check out Newsarama’s deep dive into who will be the next Marvel Sorcerer Supreme?