Midlife Crisis: Doctor Strange’s Bad Medicine

Nick Peron

Your favorite superheroes are over 50 years old! Before they got dark and gritty, they did some goofy things. Welcome to Midlife Crisis on Infinite Earths where we look back at the less than illustrious adventures of some of the biggest heroes in comics. In this edition, we are taking a look at some of the hilarious hocus pocus of Doctor Strange.

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Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, is gracing the silver screen this November and that’s big news! The character has been dazzling fans for over 50 years and has a rich history. Doctor Strange has done some really weird things over the years, like many inductees into the Midlife Crisis on Infinite Earths Hall of Fame. Here are some of the weirdest things about Doctor Strange:

The Universe Once Gave Him a Secret Identity

In the 1960s, everyone knew that Doctor Strange was really Stephen Strange and where he lived. He had no secret identity to speak of. Which was fine because he wasn’t exactly the type of hero that had an identity he needed to protect. This all came to an end when a cult called the Sons of Satannish kidnapped his disciple Clea and some of Strange’s mystical goodies. When their leader steals Strange’s form, the good Doctor then uses his magic to create a mask for himself… because reasons?

Nobody will recognise me in this getup!

From that moment on, Doctor Strange got into the habit of wearing the mask whenever he went into action. Although Doctor Strange was not good at keeping his identity secret. When Nightmare and Baron Mordo captured Eternity, Strange revealed his identity to a crowd in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. When Strange later saved Eternity, the embodiment of the universe altered reality  to change his name, making his identity a secret once again. His new name? Stephen Sanders. Which proves that the universe is either very unimaginative or a huge fan of KFC.

Strange looks at his altered medical diploma that now reads Stephen Sanders instead of Strange
These spells are finger lickin

Later, after helping the Hulk stop the Undying Ones, Stephen Sanders decided to give up on the whole Sorcerer Supreme gig. He later returned to discover that Baron Mordo had been posing as him. The Doctor reclaimed his identity and ditched the ridiculous Stephen Sanders name. Even though Eternity altered all existence to change his name, nobody seems to bring that one up anymore.

Doctor Strange’s Lover Was Seduced By Benjamin Franklin!?!

At one point, Doctor Strange decided to take his lover, Clea, into the past so she could learn about the Bicentennial of the United States of America. Along the way, they make a pit stop in the year 1775 where they joined Benjamin Franklin on his journey across the ocean to America.

When Strange had to go and investigate a strange chasm that opened up in the middle of the ocean, ol’ Bawdy Ben took this as an opportunity to seduce Clea. This Founding Father was quite the sly dog as he convinced Clea to stay in the past and marry him.

Benjamin Franklin watching Clea sleeping

This didn’t sit too well with Doctor Strange and he proceeded to throw down on the portly inventor. As it turns out, it wasn’t even Benjamin Franklin at all! It was really Doctor Strange’s foe Stygyro in disguise the whole time. I hate it when that happens!

Doctor Strange Once Fought a Pig Version of Himself

Actually, it was more of a wild boar, but that made for a clunky subtitle.

Where do I start with this one? Doctor Strange failed to restore a bunch of stars that were turned into humans, and when he returned to Earth, he discovered reality had been altered. In fact, the good doctor had been replaced by a new sorcerer calling himself Doctor Stranger Yet.

Worst. Bachelor. Party. Ever.

I am at a loss for words to explain this story. You are just going to have to read it yourself.

Doctor Strange Was Once Robbed by a Space Wizard

Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum is a treasure trove of mystical artifacts. While these items are protected by various security spells, that doesn’t change the fact that you can find the Sanctorum on a map of Manhattan.

This made it open season for a space wizard named Urthona who wanted all of Strange’s stuff. Since Doctor Strange was injured at the time, he possessed the body of his newest student — the goat-man named Rintrah — to recover them. Rather than allowing his foe to win, Doctor Strange destroyed everything to stop Urthona.

A giant yellow beam destroys a city

Speaking of Rintrah…

Doctor Strange’s Strange Successors

Every now and again, Marvel Comics likes to temporarily make someone else the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. Most of the time this takes place in some alternate reality, but other times it’s in the mainstream Marvel Universe. Sometimes the choices make sense, and other times they sound downright insane. For every logical choice, like Baron Mordo, Brother Voodoo, or even Wiccan, there are choices like….

Hiram Shaw

In the 15th Century, the role of Sorcerer Supreme was briefly held by Hiram Shaw, the ancestor of X-Men foe, Sebastian Shaw. This guy was a total hypocrite in that he was a reverend in the town of Salem who helped its local people persecute witches.

"By the Hypocritical Hosts of Hogoth!"
"By the Hypocritical Hosts of Hogoth!"

How such a clearly evil man could get the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme is never really explained, but some Marvel Handbooks suggests that he might have briefly stolen the title. Which explains why he was such a pious jerk.

The Punisher

Yes, you read that right, the Punisher was once Sorcerer Supreme, at least in another reality. In that reality, Wolverine became the king of the vampires. After Doctor Strange’s physical body was killed, his spirit possessed the body of the Punisher. The Punisher then went on a mission to slay all the vampires, who also happened to be mutants.

the punisher sprays bullets
I cast my spells in lead!

While the idea of a magician with machine guns sounds stupid today, in the 1990s, a story like that was like a license to print money. Don’t think Marvel has forgotten about Dirty Harry Potter either — he recently turned up in the more recent Secret Wars event.

Tony Stark

Tony Stark and Stephen Strange have both struggled with alcoholism, so it was only natural that someone wrote a story where the two met via this common bond. The two were drunk and got in a car crash. The end result was Stephen’s hands were still wrecked, but this time Stark promised to heal his hands.

You know he uses the Orb of Agamotto as a stock market ticker.

In the end, this leads to Stark becoming Sorcerer Supreme and fighting Dormammu with a combination of magic and armor.

Also, We Need to Have a Talk About that Other Doctor Strange Movie….

The upcoming Doctor Strange film is not the first movie about the titular sorcerer either. Back in 1978, a made-for-TV movie was made about the character. It was supposed to be a springboard for a live-action Doctor Strange television series. Unfortunately, that was never meant to be, because this movie is horrible.

The video box looks like the packaging of an imitation costume.

In this movie, Morgan le Fay is sent to Earth to destroy the Sorcerer Supreme. She attacks a hospital that is attended by Stephen Strange, who is taught to believe in magic by Thomas Lindmer, the so-called “Old One.”

There’s no car crash, struggle to reinvent himself, just “believe in magic, and you get these cool powers!” Watching this turkey, you sometimes forget this was an official movie and not some kind of adult film parody.

Next time anyone complains about the new Doctor Strange movie, show them the old Doctor Strange movie and tell ’em shaddap! It’s coming out on DVD this November, you know, if you’re looking for that perfect present for your worst enemy.

Never forget that magic lives, and sometimes it’s really stupid.

Check out more in the Midlife Crisis on Infinite Earths series here.

Nick Peron
Stand-Up Comedian from Ottawa, Canada. Long time contributor at the Marvel Database Wiki. Banned in China.