Fantastic fiction is filled with scientists and sorcerers who use their respective disciplines to better understand — and, in some cases, control — their environments. So it only makes sense that Marvel Universe would contain those whose mission is to master both science and magic.
The most prominent example of that is, of course, Victor Von Doom, but in recent years other figures have stepped forward, such as the MU’s version of Sir Isaac Newton, introduced in Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s “SHIELD,” about an ancient order of renaissance men and academics who battled alien invasions. He appears again in “Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme,” by writer Robbie Thompson and artist Javier Rodriguez, where he’s drafted into the titular band of time-tossed spell-casters by the fabled wizard Merlin.
Thompson and Rodriguez brought the title’s first arc to a close with “Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme” #4, in which Newton reveals his true traitorous colors as he turns on his fellow sorcerers and seizes a book of ultimate power. Now it’s up to Doctor Strange and his remaining allies to foil their former comrade’s sinister schemes.
CBR spoke with Thompson about Newton, what’s next for the titles character, and his love for Victor Von Doom, who guest stars in “Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme” #5.
CBR: Let’s start of with the big revelation of Issue 4 that Isaac Newton betrayed the Sorcerers Supreme and is now their enemy. What made you want to bring Newton into the book and cast him in this role? Some readers might incorrectly assume this is the first time the real-life Newton appeared in Marvel Comics, but it looks like your portrayal of the character has been informed by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s “SHIELD” series.
Robbie Thompson: Newton being in the book was one of editor Nick Lowe’s many great ideas from the very beginning, and I’m forever in his debt for putting Newton on this team and in this book. Nick edited “SHIELD” and pitched that take on Newton as someone Merlin might recruit. After I re-read those issues, I was totally on board. One of the many great things about that book was how they mixed Marvel and real-life history, and Newton may not have really been a member of SHIELD, but he was affiliated with secret societies and studied alchemy — he’s a really complicated person outside of what’s traditionally known about him.
So, as we discussed arcs for the characters on our team, it felt like we could push Newton to the extremes that you see in “SHIELD” and have a ticking time bomb within the ranks of the Supremes. Part of the pitch was this book was going to be “The Dirty Dozen” with magic, so we knew we needed a wild card — Newton easily slotted into the Archer Maggot/Telly Savalas role, and that was the puzzle piece that really gave us an engine for the next arc. Javier Rodriguez also built in little moments in each issue where you can see Newton and his servant Mindful One making little moves and overhearing things that Newton uses to his advantage when he makes his play in Issue 4.
Newton betrayed the Supremes for a mysterious book, the one that led to the creation of their original foe, the Forgotten. Is this a new tome that you created, or an established Marvel artifact? Approximately how powerful is it? And will we get more answers about its history soon?
This is a brand-new tome, and we’ll be unpacking what it is and why Newton wanted it, right away in Issue 5. This book is all kinds of bad, especially in the hands of Newton. We’re mixing it up a bit in Issue 5. Previously, we’ve been opening and closing issues with flashbacks, focusing on one character, but Issue 5 starts in the “present” of our story, then flashes back to focus on Newton’s character and how this book got onto his radar and what he’s going to be doing with it moving forward.
Just how dangerous is Newton now that he has both the mysterious book and the Spirit of Vengeance that resided in his former comrade on the Supremes, Kushala?
He is really, really dangerous. Making matters worse for Strange, Newton is going to travel to the present — where magic is weak, making Newton even more powerful. And if you’ve seen the cover of issue seven, it makes it very clear Newton is going to be more than the Supremes can handle!
The other big revelation of this first arc was the apparent death of Merlin. Will we see some fallout from this soon? And in a book about some of the most powerful magicians in history, is it safe to assume death is not necessarily the end of a character’s journey?
Merlin dying in Issue 1 was actually one of the first things Nick pitched, and I loved it! As a fan, I always enjoy when stories “assemble a team,” but I thought it was such a great idea to have the person who assembled the team get killed right away. Who are Ocean’s 11 without Danny Ocean? It allowed us to have Merlin haunt the book in every issue as we unpacked how he got people involved in this mess of his. Every sorcerer was promised something or has some kind of history with Merlin, and with him gone, they may not be able to get what they need — which may have lethal consequences for our heroes.
Issue 5 includes a flashback to the time Doctor Strange and Isaac Newton first met, a sequence that includes Doctor Doom. As a huge Fantastic Four fan, what was it like writing Doom in this book? Is this your first time tackling the character?
Andre Araujo and I were lucky enough to get to play with Doctor Doom in an issue of “Spidey,” so it was a blast to get another shot at writing one of Marvel’s greatest characters. I’m a super-fan — I have an entire shelf of just Doom figures! I think Victor Von Doom is such a dynamic character, and it was really fun to focus on his pursuit of magic as well as play with old-school Doctor Doom since this was a flashback. I’d put Doom in any book! Issue 5 also features another great character from Strange’s past that I’m very excited for people to see.
What can you tell us about the new story that begins in Issue 6? Who are some of the characters that will play important roles in this arc?
Issue 6 is the beginning of our new arc, and focusing on Strange coming into more of a leadership role. They’ve been so focused on The Forgotten that they didn’t see there was a snake in their midst. And Newton has to be stopped. We’ll have some fun cameos from Strange’s past coming up as well.
Issue 6 launches this new arc in a different way — Javier had a great idea about doing a choose-your-own-adventure style story where the reader gets to be Doctor Strange and pull the strings for the issue. It’s been a challenge to get all the pieces and details right, but it’s also been an absolute blast to be a part of putting that issue together and Javier has really outdone himself. What I love about working with Javier is that he’s always pushing the comic to be bolder and bigger. I learn so much from the way he lays out the story and builds character moments.
I just saw Alvaro Lopez’s inks of pages for that issue this morning and was blown away. I can’t wait to see what Jordie Bellaire and Joe Caramagna do when they get their hands on it. It’s really inspiring to work with such great storytellers.
Javier Rodriguez is back to draw the new arc that begins in Issue 6, but for Issue 5 you’re joined by your “Spidey” collaborator Nathan Stockman. What was it like to be working with him again?
Look, don’t tell him I said this, but I love working with Nate Stockman, and I was thrilled when editor Darren Shan told me we were getting the “Spidey” band back together. Darren brought Nate on “Spidey,” and the three of us really hit it off creatively. Nate’s a fantastic artist and storyteller and he’s so passionate about each book he works on. We have a great shorthand from working on “Spidey” together, so it was easy to write for him and as always he delivered the goods, as well a ton of great new ideas and moments. Tamra Bonvillain guests on colors for that issue, and she did an outstanding job; she and Nate work together really well.
Finally, the time- and dimension-hopping nature of magic means your book can literally go anywhere in the Marvel Universe. So can you leave us with some hints of what’s coming up this year in “Doctor Strange & the Sorcerers Supreme?”
Our first arc I’d say was about the past. This next arc will be about the present. And after that, I’d love to explore the future, but that’s only if the Supremes can survive Newton!
“Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme”#5 is on sale now.
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