When Stan Lee first began scripting the adventures of Doctor Strange in the pages of “Strange Tales”, he would often come up with the name of an invocation for Doctor Strange to shout out. Later, Lee and Steve Ditko would re-visit those earlier invocations and flesh them out a bit more and that practice continued with later writers, as pretty much every single thing that Doctor Strange mentioned in his first few appearances in “Strange Tales” was later re-visited by a comic book writer looking to expand Doctor Strange’s world by going back to the original stories.
In an amusing little way, the early gibberish that Lee came up with ended up forming the foundation of Doctor Strange’s particular corner of the Marvel Universe. As we get ready to see Doctor Strange on the silver screen, we thought it’d be nice to look at his most popular invocations and explain the meaning behind each one. Prepare to learn who or what a Hoggoth is!
15. By the Dread Dormammu!
One of Doctor Strange’s earliest invocations also has the honor of being one of the few invocations that Strange pretty much stopped using all together. You see, when Doctor Strange began, he was specifically a practitioner of “black magic”, so Strange was constantly referring to the dark-dwellers for his magic. As the character got to be more popular and began acting more and more like a superhero (just a magic-based superhero), the black magic angle was dropped and suddenly, it did not make as much sense for Strange to keep invoking the bad guys.
However, Dormammu was dropped in particular as an invocation because he became one of Doctor Strange’s most popular villains after Strange finally met him in “Strange Tales” #126. The brilliant Ditko visual of the giant demon with the flaming head was a great hook and his connection to Strange’s love interest, Clea, was another piece of him becoming a stalwart member of Doctor Strange’s Rogues Gallery. Strange’s arch-nemesis, Baron Mordo, continued invoking Dormammu for years to come.
14. By the Fangs of Farallah!
Farallah made its debut as an invocation during the acclaimed Steve Englehart/Frank Brunner run on “Doctor Strange”, including “Doctor Strange” #1, where the villainous Silver Dagger gained his ability to break into Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Santorum due to powers given to him by the demonic entity Farralah. Doctor Strange soon began to invoke the entity himself, specifically the fangs of Farallah, which must be something that Farallah took great pride in. Invoking the fangs gave Strange a variety of abilities, from protection to a powerful attack to teleportation.
Years after first becoming part of Strange’s repertoire, Farallah made its first physical appearance in a story during Kurt Busiek‘s “Iron Man” run as we saw how Farallah chose his Exemplar as part of Busiek’s Exemplars storyline (where various characters became embodiments of notable magical entities). Farallah hid the “Fearsome Fist of Farallah” and when it was found, his Exemplar was transformed into the super-fast Carnivore (with increased fighting abilities, as well).
13. By the Shades of the Seraphim!
The Seraphim was one of the few invocations where the term predated the creation of Doctor Strange. Seraphim refers to a group of seraphs, or angels. The term appears in both the Christian and the Judiac faiths (though seraphs are considered higher ranking angels in the Christian faith than they are in the Judaic faith). However, there actually was no crossover between the “real” Seraphim and the characters within the “Doctor Strange” comics, as they were their own thing.
The Seraphim in the comics were blue-skinned humanoids who wore black hoods and had tattoos. They were especially known for their powerful spheres of magical energy, most commonly referred to as the “Shades of the Seraphim”. The Seraphim were powerful enough that even the Ancient One invoked their name for the power to transport Doctor Strange to another dimension. The Seraphim were a part of a war between magical beings that Doctor Strange got caught in the middle of in the early 1990s called the “War of the Seven Spheres”.
12. By the Flames of the Faltine!
The Faltine is both the name of a race of beings as well as the universe that they are from. The Faltine universe is one consisting entirely of magical energy, so the beings who live there are made up of energy. They reproduce in a way that is similar to amoebas on Earth. However, one of these births went horribly wrong when the resulting creations, Umar and Dormammu, were different from their progenitor, Sinifer, due to some fluke mutation. Umar and Dormammu soon became the outcasts of their entire universe, because both Umar and Dormammu craved what no Faltine being should ever crave: matter! Thus, they were both banished from the Faltine universe into the world of corporeal beings.
The amount of energy in any one given being in the Faltine universe is practically indescribable to a human mind, so they are obviously great sources of energy for magic-users. The flames of the Faltine were first invoked by the villainous Xandu in “Amazing Spider-Man Annual” #2, where Doctor Strange met Spider-Man for the first time.
11. By the Vapors of Valtorr!
One of the most amusing aspects of basing actual story elements on what was essentially random gibberish that popped into Stan Lee’s head when he got around to inventing Doctor Strange’s various spells and incantations is that he would often forget what words he had used before. Imagine being the writer who then has to ultimately explain what those spells do and how they work.
For example, when Valtorr was first invoked by Doctor Strange, it was the “vapors of Valtorr.” However, later on, it was invoked as the “vipers of Valtorr,” so when Valtorr was introduced as a physical being (first by Len Kaminski as part of his “War of the Seven Spheres” storyline from “Doctor Strange: Sorceror Supreme” #49 and later by Kurt Busiek as part of his Exemplars storyline), Valtorr was depicted as both a whirlwind and as a serpentine being.
10. By the Omnipotent Oshtur!
One of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, Oshtur is likely billions of years old and is one of the Elder Gods, a group of powerful entities who came into being at about the same time that organic life began on Earth. There is no set number of Elder Gods, but the four most famous ones are Gaea, the spirit of life, Chthon, the spirit of chaos, Seth, the spirit of death and Oshtur, the spirit of intellect. Oshtur left Earth before the Elder Gods fell, and Chthon and Seth became major forces of evil on Earth.
During her travels, Oshtur befriended Hoggoth and, upon being inspired by a group of children playing, Oshtur then created Agamotto. The three magical beings formed the group known as the Vishanti (more on them later). Osthur specifically came up with the idea for the Book of the Vishanti. While Oshtur is most commonly depicted as a female, it is likely that Oshtur transcends such human constraints like gender.
9. By the Rings of Raggadorr!
Not much is known about Raggadorr, just that he was a mystic who likely lived on Earth some time in the past before ending up in his own dimension. It is unclear whether he became a demon or just remained a mystic. He is best known for his rings, which work as powerful binding spells (most often, there are seven rings of Raggadorr, but sometimes Doctor Strange refers to them in a different fashion).
During the “War of the Seven Spheres” storyline, Raggadorr and the other entities that Doctor Strange called upon for help over the years turned to him to make him pick a side in their battle. This led to Strange’s Enchantment of Emancipation, where he called out all of their names and chanted:
Those whom I named plus other I’ve omitted
whose who threatened my cherished liberty
hark to this irrevocable decree:
such enslavement will not be permitted
your claims on my person I now reject
all demands of servitude I must deny
for your wisdom and might I’ve the utmost respect
but the price for its use is far too high
better the path I walk be mine alone
hear now these words: let my fate be my own!
8. By the Moons of Munnopor!
Munnopor was one of the strangest magical beings that Doctor Strange invoked over the years, as Munnopor was actually a sentient world, noted by hazy mists that surrounded it and disguised it (hence Doctor Strange occasionally calling upon the “mists of Munnopor” – see what we mean when later writers felt that they had to explain every little thing, even that Munnopor was sometimes invoked for mists rather than the “moons of Munnopor?”). Munnopor was also surrounded by twelve moons that likely increased its own mystical abilities. The powers that Munnopor delivered to those who invoked it tended to be a bit more varied than most magical beings who typically tended to have specialties (like how Raggadorr was particularly helpful for binding spells).
When in humanoid form, Munnopor appeared as a blue-haired woman with purple skin and over a dozen orange moons tattooed on her body. Munnopor was one of the magical entities that called in the debt it felt Doctor Strange owed to it during the “War of the Seven Spheres.” Munnopor, though, was not involved in the Exemplars storyline.
7. By the Images of Ikonn!
Ikonn was one of the rare magical entities on this list that actually actively fought Doctor Strange. Ikonn’s specialty was the ability to create illusions and Doctor Strange would invoke the images of Ikonn whenever he wanted to trick someone into seeing something that was not there. Doctor Strange famously invoked the images of Ikonn to stun Galactus in the classic fight between the heroes of New York City and Galactus in “Fantastic Four” #243 (where the heroes actually managed to knock Galactus to his knees in battle).
Ikonn was called to Earth to gain revenge on a man who had killed a number of Ikonn’s worshipers on Earth. Ikonn began to seek revenge on the man by concentrating on the university that he had founded, as Ikonn drove the residents of the university crazy with his powers. Doctor Strange ultimately drove Ikonn away from this dimension. Ikonn later returned as part of the Exemplar storyline. His Exemplar was Bedlam, who could control people’s minds (becoming one of the world’s strongest telepaths).
6. By the Demons of Denak!
Denak held a special place among magical beings as he was such a vile demon that the term “Demons of Denak!” was often used as profanity, and a few of the times that Doctor Strange used the term, that was how it was intended. However, there were practical applications to that profanity, as Denak actually did have a bunch of demons that he would send to support magic users that invoked him. Other typical uses of Denak’s magic that he afforded those that invoked his power were the disks of Denak, powerful flying energy disks and the daggers of Denak, a whirling collection of magical blades.
Doctor Strange once actually banished a number of demons of Denak while in a battle with another magic user in “Stange Tales” #149, which was a rare case of Strange using power from one invocation (the Eye of Agamatto) to outright cancel out the effects of another magical being that was being invoked by a different magic user.
5. By the Vishanti!
The Vishanti are a group of benevolent magical beings that have made a point of trying to help Earth over the years, most commonly through the aid that they give to Doctor Strange and his Sorcerer Supreme predecessors (and, in the case of Brother Voodoo, his successor). The Vishanti consist of Oshtur, Agametto and Hoggoth. They come to Doctor Strange in many different forms. Their greatest contribution to mankind is the Book of the Vishanti, which is basically the good guy version of the Book of the Darkhold, which helped to serve the evil Elder God, Chthon.
The Vishanti actually played a major role in the institution of the practice of having a Sorcerer Supreme, as said Sorcerer Supreme, in a lot of ways, serves as the agent of the Vishanti on Earth (hence the giant book of spells given to Strange). The Vishanti are often invoked with different descriptions of the group, with the most popular being the “Ageless Vishanti” and the “Deathless Vishanti.”
4. By the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak!
One of the most famous magical beings, Cyttorak became particularly popular because it was a perfect early example of the Marvel Universe being one shared continuity. Because while the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak were first referenced in the pages of “Strange Tales”, a magical ruby of Cyttorak ended up giving Cain Marko the power of the Juggernaut over in the pages of “X-Men.” The whole Exemplars storyline was based on the idea that if Cyttorak had a powerful character on Earth using a totem of Cyttorak as the Juggernaut, why didn’t the other magical beings also have similar totems on Earth? Kurt Busiek figured, “Well, who says that they didn’t?” and so the Exemplars were born.
Due to his connection to Juggernat, Cyttorak has made a lot more appearances than almost all of the characters on this list. Because of his many appearances, though, it is has become unclear as to whether Cyttorak is a magical deity or a demon, as different writers have used Cyttorak differently.
3. By the Winds of Watoomb!
Watoomb was the inspiration for the aforementioned first meeting between Spider-Man and Doctor Strange in “Amazing Spider-Man Annual” #1, where the villainous Xandu sought out Doctor Strange’s half of the magical artifact known as the Wand of the Watoomb, which had been split into two parts. Xandu was planning on combining them as part of his quest for power. While the wand of Watoomb is a powerful artifact, Watoomb is probably best known for his magical speciality – wind. When Doctor Strange needs a powerful gust of wind during battle, he can always call upon the winds of Watoomb.
Watoomb took place in both the “War of the Seven Spheres” storyline as well as the Exemplars story arc. Watoomb was one of the entities that Doctor Strange emancipated himself from, but by the end of the story, Strange was back in Watoomb’s good fraces. Watoomb’s Exemplar was a being with wind powers known as Tempest.
2. By the Eye of Agamotto!
Created by Oshtur, Agamotto was apparently at one point a corporeal being. It was during this point in Agamotto’s life that he became, in effect, Earth’s first Sorceror Supreme. He did not literally have that title, but he was Earth’s magical protector, fighting off Dormammu, before he and his fellow Vishanti members, Oshtur and Hoggoth, could create the role of the Sorcerer Supreme. This is likely why Agamotto has donated so many objects to the Sorcerer Supreme in the pursuit of protecting the Earth from evil magical forces. The most famous one of these objects is the powerful amulet known as the Eye of Agamotto.
While once corporeal, Agamotto has long since transcended that state to become a purely magical being. This is how Agamotto is able to be “All-Seeing.” In a lot of ways, he is like the Watcher, in that he sees everything and only occasionally gets involved. In one memorable story during Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner’s “Doctor Strange” run, a dying Doctor Strange was actually sucked directly into the Eye of Agamotto to heal, and once there, he met Agamotto, who was in the form of a giant caterpillar.
1. By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!
Hoggoth is quite possibly the oldest magical being in existence. When Oshtur came across him countless years ago, he had already been around for eons. He took Oshtur under his wing and taught her the power of being part of a greater whole. Hoggoth lived for eons surrounded just by the ghosts of his dead people, so he was overjoyed to finally meet someone new when Oshtur ran into him on her journey through the universe after leaving Earth. Hoggoth is so connected to his people that he can call upon their spirits for great feats of power, through which he is their host, hence the “hosts of Hoggoth” being one of Doctor Strange’s most powerful invocations (“hoary” is another word for old, which explains the “hoary” part of the “hoary hosts of Hoggoth”).
Hoggoth is a member of the Vishanti with Agamotto and Oshtur, and through that group, they formed the role of the Sorcerer Supreme. Other popular spells that invoke Hoggoth are the “hands of Hoggoth” (a giant magical hand that can be used to strike bad guys or grasp them), the “path of Hoggoth” (which can lead people through difficult places like the Nightmare dimension) and the “spell of Hoggoth”, which causes forgetfulness and sleepiness.
What’s your favorite Doctor Strange invocation? Let us know in the comments!
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