These Are the Comics You Should Read Before Seeing ‘Doctor Strange 2’
So many comics, so little time.
As with any Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness comes with a reading list. Based on the trailer for Doctor Strange 2, it seems like they are going to attempt to touch every point known in Marvel Comics. So I guess you could just start from the beginning and move forward. However, I don’t think anyone could get through the entire Marvel catalog before the movie’s May 6th release date. (But, you know, you’ll never know if you don’t try?)
Unlike other comic book movies that used specific story arcs as source material, the creators have said that this film draws from many series and not just one storyline (or universe, for that matter). With that in mind, and just going off of the trailer, I complied a basic comprehensive list of comics to understand the characters in the movie better.
New Avengers: Illuminati (2006)
In Doctor Strange 2, Strange goes in front of the Illuminati for judgment regarding his crime of ripping open the multiverse. The first story arcs of the Illuminati were in 2006’s New Avengers: Illuminati. The original council consisted of Strange, Black Bolt, Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), Professor Charles Xavier, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and Tony Stark (Iron Man). They watch over the multiverse, shaping the different realities as they see fit.
House of M (2005)
Wanda Maximoff, better known as Scarlet Witch, has had a rough go of things. Technically, she is not a mutant, but an altered human who has a deep connection to chaos magic. Mutants, and other powered beings, couldn’t find the right way to handle Wanda, let alone try to understand her. After losing her imaginary children (like in Wandavision), those around her wiped her memory of them. When she finally recovered her memories, her powers went a little haywire with the flood of emotions. She shifted reality to please her adoptive father Magneto and made a dimension where mutants were the dominant species to homo sapiens. Tommy and Billy even came back to her in this reality.
With the help of Doctor Strange, everyone figured out things were not as they should be. But when Wanda found out the mutants plotted to kill her, things shifted back to normal. Only now, most of the mutants were without their powers or dead. Mutants still refer to it as Decimation Day.
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade (2010)
After the events of House of M, Tommy and Billy did not disappear back into the ether. Their souls were reborn into new versions of themselves—Billy Kaplan and Tommy Shepherd. Tommy, also known as Speed, possessed powers similar to Wanda’s twin Quicksilver. Billy’s (or Wiccan) powers resembled Wanda’s own magic. During this series, they searched for Scarlet Witch to tell her they were alive—only to find her memory wiped (again) and Doctor Doom trying to marry her.
Young Avengers (2013)
America Chavez enters the MCU in Doctor Strange 2, but she first appeared on the pages of Marvel Comics in 2011. A couple of years later, Young Avengers solidified America’s special place among superheroes. On a team with other young heroes—including other MCU babies Speed, Wiccan, and Kate Bishop (Hawkeye)—they proved they are just as good as the people they looked up to.
The Death of Doctor Strange (2021)
A newer series, The Death of Doctor Strange killed off the Sorcerer Supreme in the first issue. Yet, Dr. Stephen Strange always plans ahead, so he had a backup version of himself hidden away in the Sanctum Santorum. Long ago, Strange took a week from his life to make this alternate version of himself. This new Strange is more from the earlier eras of the comics, so he is full of arrogance and weird phrases (Zounds!). At the end of the series, another magic wielder gains the title of Sorcerer Supreme. But Clea, now the Sorcerer Supreme, vowed to resurrect Strange.
X-Men: Trial of Magneto (2021)
This series may seem like it is about Magento, but it is really about Scarlet Witch. Because of the House of M events (then the tragic Decimation Day), mutants regard Scarlet Witch as one of the worst villains of all time. However, because Wanda is amazing and selfless, she devised a way to help the mutants. First, she must accept herself for who she is—including all of her past actions, no matter how heinous. This series is so cathartic for Wanda, and for her fans.
Happy reading (and viewing), true believers.
(feature image: Disney/Marvel)
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