Earlier this summer, Marvel Comics introduced its Season One books
, a new line of original graphic novels aimed at retelling the origin stories of familiar Marvel Comics characters for new readers while staying faithful to their established history. Today, Marvel announced exclusively to ComicsAlliance that Doctor Strange will star in a new Season One graphic novel written by Greg Pak with art by Emma Rios
, due out September 2012. The Doctor Strange OGN joins Ant-Man: Season One
by Tom DeFalco, which is out in July, and Horacio Domingues and Hulk: Season One
by Fred Van Lente and Tom Fowler, which will see an August release.
Doctor Strange was first introduced by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee in a 1963 Strange Tales
feature as the brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, who lost the use of his hands in a terrible car accident. Seeking a cure, he instead discovered magic, and became the heroic wizard of Greenwich Village, battling wicked cosmic entities and journeying to exotic, even trippy Ditko-designed planes of existence.
Pak says he was always particularly fascinated by part of that first story, where Doctor Strange's origin story ends with the words, "'And so it beings! The days turned to weeks, to months, to years, as Dr. Strange studied the long-dead mystic arts! Slowly he changed... slowly his life took on a new deeper meaning..."
Doctor Strange: Season One
will be set in those early days, where "there's a great window to tell stories about a younger, rawer Strange who's not yet a Master of the Mystic Arts, much less the Sorcerer Supreme. This is also when Strange is still pretty much the arrogant, selfish surgeon he started out as," says Pak. "Strange is a ridiculous amount of fun to write at this point in his life and it gives us great space for real character development."
"I love this status quo [of Dr. Strange's early years]," says Rios. "The redemption of somebody who already had everything, who had power and felt invulnerable, but who ended up keeping nothing... At least in the beginning, I would like him to be unlikable, and follow him in his way of redemption till gradually you fall in love with him. I think there weren't so many human depictions of the character. Even after losing his title... he was always considered a deus ex machina, which basically means you need a different approach to the character from what you do when you face, for example, Peter Parker or even [Captain America]."
"Strange has been a fantastic supporting character in recent years," says Pak, who has written Strange into several of his Hulk stories, and has long and publicly lobbied to write a Doctor Strange comic. "For years, whenever an interviewer asked me what characters I'd like to write, I'd shamelessly mention Doctor Strange... But maybe there's a bit of a challenge in telling ongoing stories with him as the lead because his biggest emotional struggle is in the past-that transition from selfish surgeon to Zen-like Sorcerer Supreme. Compare that to the Hulk, whose struggle between man and monster is a constant, real-time, dramatic presences."
Rios, meanwhile, drew Strange
, a 2010 four-issue series with writer Mark Waid, in which the character had relinquished the Sorcerer Supreme title to Brother Voodoo, who became a sort of legacy Doctor Strange. Here though, she'll get to work in the visual playgrounds originally created by Ditko, and hopes to honor Gene Colan's horror comic-inspired take on the character as well.
Past attempts to update Strange in the 21st century have included turning his Vincent Price-like mustache into a more hip goatee or a big, thick mustache. What can readers expect to adorn Stephen Strange's face in Season One?
"Full on ZZ Top manimal beard," Pak said. "That's what the cool kids are into these days, right?"
"I like bearded guys, so he won't have a thin mustache," added Rios, who, after all, is the person who gets to put the facial hair on the face. "Also, thanks to the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth and the Vishanti, Greg and me, are not going to allow him much time to worry about his appearance, I'm afraid."