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Doctor Strange might be the most high-profile of Marvel’s Sorcerers Supreme — the title given to the magician responsible for protecting this level of reality from supernatural and extra-dimensional threats — but he’s hardly the first. In the 50-plus years since the comic book character debuted, many other Supremists have been revealed. Before they show up in future movies, here are the Sorcerers that came before — and after — Stephen Strange wore the bright red cloak.
While longterm Doctor Strange fans will be familiar with the name Agamotto, it’s more because of artifacts bearing his name — the Eye of Agamotto and the Orb of Agamotto are both commonly referred to by the hero — than the character himself. The first Sorcerer Supreme, Agamotto — the son of a minor deity born millennia ago — defended Earth from multiple mystical threats before transcending his mortal form and eventually becoming a mystical threat himself. He fought the Avengers back in 2010’s New Avengers Vol. 2 Nos. 1-6, but was defeated by… another Sorcerer Supreme. We’ll get there soon enough.
It’s not enough the Zhered-Na came from the lost continent of Atlantis before it disappeared (somewhere around 16,000 BC in Marvel’s mythology); she was also the one who prophesied the disappearance happening, although none believed her at the time. She was eventually killed by a disciple of the demon D’Spayre.
One of the first Sorcerers Supreme to go bad, the 13th century magician called Salomé eventually became so enamored with her power that she demanded she be considered a goddess — a lack of humility that eventually saw her banished to another dimension. In more recent times, she’s returned on multiple occasions to attempt to reclaim the Supreme title and also enslave the Earth, only to be defeated by Doctor Strange and mystical compatriots.
It should come as no surprise that Merlin, one of the most famous magicians in non-copyrighted mythology, was one of Marvel’s Sorcerers Supreme. Given Merlin’s history inside Marvel comics continuity — which includes teaming up with a time-traveling Black Knight and, centuries later, creating Captain Britain while in ghostly form — it’s unclear how he became Sorcerer Supreme, as well as when he relinquished the title. Still, if anyone deserves the title, Merlin is in with a fair shake.
With great irony, the Reverend of the town of Marvel’s Salem, Massachusetts in the late 17th century — a particularly trying time — was the Sorcerer Supreme. This didn’t stop him from persecuting witches and killing countless women he accused of having unearthly powers. Someone, somewhere, is already working on a pitch for a Hiram Shaw Is The Worst mini-series, I’m sure. In case more proof was needed on that latter point, one of his ancestors is Sebastian Shaw, the X-Men villain who heads up the villainous Hellfire Club.
The Ancient One
Doctor Strange’s mentor lived up to his name in the comic books — he was born in the 15th century, and spent his life in study of magic and its properties… Well, when he wasn’t defending this plane of existence from magical and extra-dimensional threats, of course. After passing on the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme to Stephen Strange, he evolved to a higher plane of existence, from which he splits his time between helping Strange when necessary and studying with cosmic entities to continue to unlock the secrets of reality.
A former 1970s exploitation character (Sample cover line: “The Man who Lived Twice battles — the Unliving Legions of Baron Samedi!”), Jericho Drumm was revived in the early part of the 21st century as a replacement for a temporarily disgraced Stephen Strange. Drumm’s time as the Sorcerer Supreme was short-lived, however; he sacrificed himself for the greater good within two years of taking on the mantle, before a latter resurrection and admission into the Avengers years later.
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