Forget the Multiverse of Madness: 1 Doctor Strange Run You’ve Never Read is His Best Horror Tale Ever

Summary

  • Doctor Strange’s horror background shined under creator David Quinn’s direction, infusing dread and unease into the character’s universe.
  • Quinn’s run leaned into psychological horror, exploring deep themes and character relationships not often seen in Doctor Strange stories.
  • Future creators should revisit Quinn’s run to explore unresolved plot points, such as Salome’s challenge to Doctor Strange and Vincent Stevens’ role.



Since his first appearance over 60 years ago, Doctor Strange has dabbled in the horror genre. Thanks to his many supernatural foes such as Baron Mordo and the dread Dormammu, Doctor Strange’s trippy and psychedelic adventures lend themselves well to the genre, and this was on display in 2022’s The Multiverse of Madness. Directed by horror icon Sam Raimi, the movie leaned heavily onto the character’s horror background.

The Multiverse of Madness proved there is a market for horror-infused Doctor Strange stories, but the comics in recent years have skewed towards super-heroics. However, for a brief period in the 1990s, Marvel did publish a Doctor Strange comic that embraced the horror aspects of the character, written by indie and underground comics icon David Quinn. Although the run was a short one, it proved that Doctor Strange could work well in the genre, and the run is perfect for fans of The Multiverse of Madness.


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David Quinn Brought An Outsider’s Perspective to Doctor Strange

While Faust Was Not A Mainstream Title, It Proved Quinn Could Writer Horror Comics

Image of a Faust cover, showing the hero holding a severed head.

David Quinn made a name for himself in the late 1980s/early 1990s working on comics such as Faust. Faust had drawn high praise from critics and sold well, generating interest in Quinn’s career. After years of working in independent and underground comics, Quinn entered the mainstream with his brief run on Doctor Strange. Issue 60 inaugurated his run, and he would continue on the title as writer, save one fill-in issue by Dan Abnett, until issue 77. Quinn would plot the final two issues, 78 and 79, while former editor Evan Skolnick provided the scripts.


Prior to David’s arrival in Doctor Strange, the book was suffering from low sales. Previous creative teams, while crafting some excellent stories, were largely playing it safe, as Strange fought traditional villains such as Dormammu, Nightmare and Varney the Vampyre. During Quinn’s run, these classic villains were minimized, or not even featured. Instead, he builds Salome as a true threat to Doctor Strange. He also explored Doctor Strange’s relationship with not only the Midnight Sons, but the larger Marvel Universe as a whole.

David Quinn Put Doctor Strange Through His Paces

Doctor Strange Created Two Other Versions of Himself–And It Backfired On Him Horribly


David Quinn’s first Doctor Strange issue, #60, was part of a larger crossover between Marvel’s Midnight Sons line, which also included Ghost Rider, Blade and Morbius. The crossover, titled Siege of Darkness, saw the Midnight Sons take on Salome, a former Sorcerer Supreme. Prior to her arrival, the Vishanti had stripped Strange of the title because he refused to help them fight the War of the Seven Spheres, and thus he was weakened. He falls prey to Salome’s evil magic in an eight-page story appearing in Marvel Comics Presents #146.

As the run progressed, things took a turn for the weird and horrific. In Doctor Strange #61, an entity calling itself “Strange” appeared. Wearing an outfit loosely resembling Doctor Strange’s, the creature begins collecting magical artifacts, in some cases stealing them in brutal and ruthless fashions. Meanwhile, another odd character, a suave business executive named Vincent Stevens, arrives in New York City. Closely resembling Doctor Strange, Stevens begins building a criminal empire while masquerading as legitimate. All the while, the real Doctor Strange was exiled to a pocket dimension.


Finally, in the four-part storyline “Strangers Among Us,” fans learned the truth. In the wake of Salome’s attack, a weakened Doctor Strange creates both Strange and Vincent Stevens as vessels to carry out his work while exiled. Unfortunately, both Strange and Stevens learned of their true nature, and fought back against Doctor Strange. Finally, in the “Last Rites” storyline, Doctor Strange confronts his clones, and reabsorbed them into himself. In the process, this created a new Doctor Strange. Sporting long hair and rimmed glasses, this new Doctor Strange begins to make amends for the actions of his clones.


Suggested Reading Order for David Quinn’s Doctor Strange

Comic Issue and Story Title

Writer

Artist(s)

Marvel Comics Presents #146, “Salome’s Dream”

David Quinn

Geof Isherwood

Doctor Strange #62, “Stranger and Stranger”

David Quinn

Melvin Rubi

Doctor Strange #63, “Song of the Blood Opal”

David Quinn

Max Douglas

Doctor Strange #64-66, Annual #4 “Strangers Among Us”

David Quinn

Melvin Rubi, John Hixson and Kyle Hotz

Midnight Sons Unlimited #6, “Necromancing”

David Quinn

Mark Tenney, Marie Severin, Gene Colan and Max Douglas

Doctor Strange #69, “Be With Me”

David Quinn

David Brewer

Doctor Strange #70-71, “Half Lives”

David Quinn

Peter Gross

Doctor Strange #72-75, “Last Rites”

David Quinn

Peter Gross, Steve Yeowell and Marc Buckingham

Doctor Strange #76, “Earthly Powers”

David Quinn

Peter Gross

Unfortunately, just as this new Doctor Strange arrived, Quinn’s run was cut short as Marvel editorial wished to take the book in yet another new direction. Warren Ellis was tapped to be his replacement, and the writer dispensed with nearly everything Quinn had spent the last year building. Ellis did not remain long, and was followed by JM DeMatteis before the book folded for good.


No Other Doctor Strange Creator Has Leaned Into the Character’s Horror Side

David Quinn Explored Body Horror With The Hulk and the X-Men’s Polaris

David Quinn’s tenure on Doctor Strange leaned heavily into the horror genre, perhaps more than any other creator who has worked on the character. Quinn infused the title with a sense of dread and unease, as fans saw the ruthless Strange decimate one character after another on his singular quest. Strange possessed a notable “body horror” element as well. In Doctor Strange #69, Strange, slowly losing cohesion, attempts to merge with Polaris, but she fights him off. Later, Strange tries another merger, this time with the Hulk. If he had been successful, the two heroes would have been lost.


While Strange was fighting Nathaniel Richards or Forge, Vincent Stevens was inflicting horrors all his own. Just like Strange, Vincent Stevens represented the dark side of Doctor Strange. Vincent was cunning and wily, using his magical abilities to climb the corporate ladder. Vincent was created to help Doctor Strange during his exile. Yet just like Strange, it backfired, forcing the real deal to show his hand earlier than he wished. If Strange represented the supernatural horror present in Doctor Strange, Vincent represented the real world horror. These varying personalities will collide in the new Doctor Strange.

Quinn’s run on Doctor Strange was also rooted in psychological horror, and probed deeper into the character than any creator had in a while. In the story “Necromancing,” appearing in Midnight Sons Unlimited #6, Sister Nil, a background character prominent through Quinn’s time in the book, helps Doctor Strange come to terms with his relationship with Clea. Set across three different time eras, and involving vampires, the story was a celebration of Strange and Clea’s love, and this finds echoes in Jed MacKay’s current Doctor Strange title.


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Future Doctor Strange Creators Need To Revisit David Quinn’s Awesome Run

Quinn Left A Number of Plot Points to Explore, Such as Strange and Vincent Stevens

Image of Strange flying in the air.

David Quinn left a number of awesome toys on the table for future Doctor Strange writers and artists. The run established Salome as a bona fide challenger to Doctor Strange, and worthy of the title of Sorcerer Supreme. However, later stories did not follow up on this promise. Furthermore, both Strange and Vincent Stevens could return as well. Jed MacKay recently resurrected the War of the Seven Spheres plotline to great effect, and there is no doubt he could work on similar magic on Strange and Vincent.


More importantly, David Quinn proved that a horror-infused take on Doctor Strange could work. His run was cut short due to factors beyond his control, namely low sales and shifting editorial mandates. The horror-based stories Quinn wrote during his time on Doctor Strange were some of the richest in the character’s history, but now the run is largely forgotten. Fans of The Multiverse of Madness looking for more stories like it should read David Quinn’s all-too short run on Doctor Strange.