This week’s Doctor Strange #385 from writer Donny Cates and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta brings big changes to the landscape of magic in the Marvel Universe – and solves the mystery of the Sorcerer Supreme leading into Damnation.
Spoilers ahead for Doctor Strange #385.
Doctor Strange #385 picks up right where the previous issue left off – with Loki and Zelma on the run from the Void-possessed Stephen Strange. The Void reveals the spell hidden inside Zelma – the Exile of Singhsoon, which summons all magic on Earth to the caster.
Loki unbinds the spell from Zelma’s soul – a process Strange expected to kill her – and casts it, allowing him to not only fight back against the Void, but to use his godly might to release the magic back into the world, repairing some of the damage done by the Empirikul (during Jason Aron's previous run) and proving his good will as Sorcerer Supremee.
As Sentry arrives to fight the Void, Strange is able to contain it once again thanks to the released magic. Sentry expresses his anger at Strange, who he feels betrayed him by letting the Void escape and leaves, telling Strange never to contact him again.
With the Void now defeated, Zelma – who survived the removal of the spell - reveals that when Loki touched her soul, she saw the truth about the Sorcerer Supreme tournament. Loki confesses it was all a lie and Strange has always been Sorcerer Supreme - and Strange punches him.
Loki reluctantly relinquishes Strange’s cloak and Sanctum Sanctorum back to him, telling Strange that he did the whole thing to prepare him for a series of challenges, which the fact that Strange fell for his ruse proves he’s not ready to face, naming the War of the Realms, Damnation, the gathering of the Infinity Stones, and the Final Host (as mentioned in Marvel Legacy #1) as impending threats.
Strange isn’t buying Loki’s explanation, so the god of lies offers several more: that Zelma’s destiny is to be a Sorcerer Supreme, that he did it as part of a secret plot, and that it was simply because he thought it was funny – but in the end no real explanation is given. Strange teleports Loki to an unnamed – but unpleasant – dimension, but not before Loki apologizes for the death of Bats, and says he’s been working on a solution.
Furious at Strange’s deceptions and unwillingness to work with Loki, Zelma tells him she’s done being his pawn and leaves. As Strange sadly watches her leave, Bats arrives in Astral form.
Strange’s next story arc, a crossover with the mini-series Damnation, begins in February 28’s Doctor Strange #386.