How Doctor Strange’s Villainous Variant, General Strange, Returned To Marvel Comics

The following contains major spoilers for Doctor Strange #6, on sale now from Marvel Comics.

Ever since Doctor Strange made his debut in the pages of Marvel Comics, he has been at the heart of some of the most fantastical stories pop culture has to offer. Of course, not all of these tales have come close to resembling a happy ending. Now, an ancient conflict with a particularly troubling end of its own has come back to haunt Doctor Strange in the worst way possible, and the villain leading the charge is none other than a long-forgotten version of the Sorcerer Supreme himself.

Following a devastating assault on the wedding between Clea’s Faltine mother Umar and the villainous Tiboro, Stephen and Clea Strange come face-to-face with one of the most menacing forces in any iteration of the Marvel Universe, the dreaded General Stephen Strange. With his untold command over the Mystic Arts, it only takes seconds for him to throw the celebration into absolute chaos. While General Strange’s explosive entrance doesn’t impart any particulars about who he truly is, Doctor Strange #6 (by Jed MacKay, Jonathan Hickman, Juan Gedeon, KJ Díaz, and VC’s Cory Petit) gives readers everything they need to know about where he comes from, and why his arrival could easily spell the end of the Doctor Strange fans know best.

RELATED: The Sorcerer Supreme is Marvel’s Biggest Murder Suspect – For Good Reason

What Happened To Doctor Strange During The War Of The Seven Spheres?

Doctor Strange joins the War of The Seven Spheres in a surreal setting in Marvel Comics

Rather than any alternate universe or wildly differing timeline, the vengeful General Strange who has come to menace the Marvel Universe in the present is actually a remnant of both its not-so-distant past and a future that has long since been averted entirely. It was back in 1992’s Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #48 (by Len Kaminski and Geof Isherwood) that Doctor Strange learned about the fabled War of the Seven Spheres, which served as the catalyst for some of the biggest stories of his entire career. With the fate of every mystical realm hanging in the balance, the Vishanti and their fellow deities required a champion of their own, and each god that Strange had ever invoked wanted him to serve as theirs.

Initially, Strange decided to give up his powers entirely rather than fight in someone else’s war, but when the consequences of his absence became apparent in his own reality, the Sorcerer Supreme was effectively forced to join the front lines. Over the course of five thousand years, Doctor Strange led the charge against all manner of opposing forces including the Vishantis’ evil counterparts, the Trinity of Ashes. Despite all his best efforts, however, nothing Strange nor his armies accomplished was ever enough to genuinely sway the tide of battle. Instead of any one side emerging victorious from seemingly eternal conflict, the War of the Seven Spheres only came to an end when the Trinity of Ashes decided to barter for peace, leaving the Strange who had fought on behalf of the Vishanti with a deep disdain for both sides.

RELATED: Benedict Cumberbatch Confirms Doctor Strange Return in 2024

How An Ancient War Returned To Strange’s Doorstep

Doctor Strange correcting the Vishanti, demanding they call him General, in Marvel Comics

With the Trinity of Ashes fearing General Strange’s power and the Vishantis’ desire to end the War of the Seven Spheres as quickly as possible, the Sorcerer Supreme’s life was split into two distinct paths. While the Doctor Strange fans know best was stripped of his memories after the War of the Seven Spheres, his war-torn counterpart was imprisoned within a crystal left in his past self’s care. Unfortunately, this prison could only contain the General’s threat while Doctor Strange lived. When he died recently, the General escaped.

In spite of helping Clea defeat the Blasphemy Cartel and being resurrected in full by Death following his time as her Harvestman, the fact that Doctor Strange was murdered back in 2021’s Death of Doctor Strange #1 (by Jed MacKay, Lee Garbett, and Antonio Fabela) still ended his life, however technically. As is apparent now, this broke the spell binding General Strange in his prison long enough for the villain to escape, even if he waited several years before making his presence known. However, General Strange biding his time is hardly an indicator that he is no longer a threat, but rather that he has been waiting for the right moment to strike back at the Sorcerer Supreme who stole his life.

RELATED: Doctor Strange Gets An Origin Novel From Titan Books

What General Strange Means For The Marvel Universe

General Strange attacks umar and tiboro's wedding in Doctor Strange #5, in Marvel Comics

Apart from posing a threat to Doctor Strange as a stronger version of himself, General Strange might be one of the most murderous mystical powerhouses of all time. Taking revenge on his former self for agreeing to walk away from the War of the Seven Spheres is bad enough, but the fact that General Strange is ready to continue fighting the war itself is infinitely more concerning. Even if Doctor Strange survives their initial encounter, that doesn’t mean he has any way of stopping his twisted counterpart from picking things back up where the Vishanti cut them off, nor from striking down everyone who gets in his way.

Considering the War of the Seven Spheres ended because of the Trinity of Ashes’ fear of Strange, it is hard to imagine anyone standing up to him for long, even the gods he used to serve. It will only be a matter of time before General Strange kicks off the war that destroyed him all over again. This time neither the Vishanti nor any other gods will have any chance of keeping it a secret from the rest of the Marvel Universe.

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