I’m happy to share The Definitive Doctor Strange Collecting Guide and Reading Order! It includes every Doctor Strange issue ever published with notes on trade-reading order and guest appearances.
Agamatto-eyed readers may have spotted it last week, but as of today the guide is officially out of its beta-release phase and ready to help you collect Marvel’s most-famous mystic.
This is the first of several new and revised collection pages I’ll be highlighting over the next few weeks; you can already see several of them in action in Crushing Comics.
Doctor Strange was one of Marvel’s original Silver Age heroes, debuting in 1963 in Strange Tales, a title he split with Nick Fury. He is a brilliant-but-prideful surgeon whose career is ruined when his hands are injured in an accident, and in his quest to repair them he stumbles into the world of mysticism.
Like Fury, he was one of the few freshly-invented Silver Age solo heroes not to be hoovered up by The Avengers. This was exploited by his inclusion in The Defenders, a team of relative outcasts that also included The Hulk, Namor, and Silver Surfer.
Aside from a brief blip at the beginning of the 70s, Strange starred in an ongoing book in continuous publication through 1996, when his third volume was cancelled with no replacement.
Unlike fellow hot-in-the-90s hero Ghost Rider, Strange got no ongoing revival in the 00s, although he was finally absorbed by the Avengers under Brian Bendis’s tenure (partially due to his participation in The Illuminati).
After playing a critical (some may say “starring”) role in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers mega-story that began in 2013, Doctor Strange finally found his way back into an ongoing title from Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo in the fall of 2015 in anticipation of his big screen debut in 2016.
I’ve always had affection for the good doctor, but I did some foot-dragging on giving him his own guide due to his relatively low profile in past years. However, with his movie coming up this fall, it was finally time to attack his guide – no small feat, since he’s had over a dozen series and one-shots to call his own plus a starring role in most incarnations of The Defenders.
If that all sound great but you’re kind of new to this comics game, what should you sample to find out of you like Doctor Strange? Here’s a few books to try:
Doctor Strange: Season One – Marvel produced this modernized Season One retellings for all of their major heroes in 2010. While the movie won’t hew to this exact script, it’s going to give you the gist of what this character is about. It was created by Greg Pak, a very sensitive writer who rarely produces anything uninteresting, and Emma Rios, a brilliant Spanish illustrator who brings a sweep of sketchy lines to the edges of all of her illustrations. This is being re-issued in paperback as Doctor Strange: Strange Origin.
Doctor Strange Epic Collection: A Separate Reality – If you can wait until November, this Epic Collection covers one of the most-reprinted periods of Doctor Strange from the early-70s as written by comics royalty Roy Thomas. Be warned – 70s comics are much wordier than modern ones; they do a lot more tell than show.
Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment – If you want a sampling of Doctor Strange interacting with another Marvel character, the recollection of this 1987 original graphic novel is one of his most highly-acclaimed starring turns as written by Roger Stern and illustrated by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. Movie watchers might not know that Dr. Doom is typically portrayed as one the most powerful magicians on the planet, which makes this team-up something fans had wanted to see for decades.
Doctor Strange: The Oath – This is a charming series from the super-group of Mark Waid and Marcos Martin. Martin’s art means this is a brighter, more classic-looking comic, and Waid spins an enjoyable and self-contained tale.
Doctor Strange Vol. 1: The Way of the Weird – This is Doctor Strange’s newest series, penned by super-hot scribe Jason Aaron (he also writes Star Wars and Thor). The art from Chris Bachalo may strike some new readers as slightly cartoonish or hard to follow – it’s definitely not a super-glossy comic attempting to be a film.
Those are just a handful of dozens of Doctor Strange collections Marvel has released over the years – and the Doctor Strange guide lists every one along with the issues they contain.
Just how much of Doctor Strange has been collected as of this post? Here are the stats, not including his current ongoing series (which will be 100% collected, as is the case with all new Marvel comics):
|1963||Strange Tales, Vol. 1||57||57||57||35|
|1968||Doctor Strange, Vol. 1||15||15||15||0|
|1974||Doctor Strange, Vol. 2||82||77||60||3|
|1987||Strange Tales, Vol. 2||19||19||19||0|
|1988||Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme||93||12||12||10|
|1989||Doctor Strange OGNs (1989-1997)||3||3||3||0|
|1999||Dr. Strange: The Flight of Bones||4||4||4||0|
|2006||Dr. Strange: The Oath||5||5||5||0|
|2010||Mystic Hands Of Dr. Strange (one-shot)||1||0||0||0|
|2010||Strange, Vol. 2||4||4||4||0|
|2010||Doctor Strange: Season 1 OGN||1||1||1||0|
Considering the piecemeal assemble of series we have to work with, nearly 71% coverage isn’t terrible – but almost all of the missing 29% comes from the massive gap of his 1990s series – which has never had a single collected edition to its name. The start of a Doctor Strange Epic Collection series this November will eventually help to change that.
Want to know how to own the nearly 71% of Doctor Strange that has been recollected from the form of its original release? Head to the Doctor Strange guide for all the details!