SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Doctor Strange #7 from Mark Waid, Javier Pina, Andres Guinaldo, JP Mayer, Andy Owens, Roberto Poggi, Keith Champagne, Brian Reber, Jim Campbell, Andrew Crossley and VC's Cory Petit, on sale now.
Doctor Strange has endured a trying journey in his latest run, which really put him through the wringer both mentally and physically. Strange found himself marooned in the cosmos, trying to get his mojo back because, well, magic had deserted him and he wanted to become worthy again.
Scouring the galaxy, even picking up a Time Stone along the way, he regained his power bit by bit only to return to Earth to find a doppelgänger in his stead, hence the current arc, "The Two Doctors." It turns out his former assistant, Casey Kinmont, has been masquerading as him, but as he tries to bring her to her senses, a very familiar foe emerges as the man pulling the strings -- the ever-dangerous Baron Mordo.
Casey sacrificed her soul to save Stephen's, but she's been plucked, corrupted with hatred and is now being weaponized to ruin her mentor's reputation. Just when Strange figures out she has a puppet master, he's struck down by Mordo, his former ally who's always hated the Avenger for becoming the Sorcerer Supreme. Just what his intention is, well, that remains to be seen, but given their rivalry over the decades, the Marvel Universe is in certain peril.
Karl Mordo first appeared in 1963's Strange Tales #111, training alongside Strange, only to be excommunicated after it was revealed he was trying to kill their master, the Ancient One. This started the rivalry, as Mordo began perfecting the dark arts, all so he could become an evil version of the Sorcerer Supreme. This shaped a storied past for both with multiple attempts on Strange's life, and several instances where Mordo himself was resurrected from the dead. It's an infinite dance it seems, and as they lock horns once more, Strange really has no clue how his archenemy is free and scheming against him.
In Secret Empire, Mordo was given control of Manhattan by the evil version of Captain America, only for Strange, Daredevil, Kingpin and a squad of other New York heroes to stop him. He was imprisoned and carted off to a mysterious dimension, although the answer to his freedom may lie in Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme. There, Merlin brought together all of history's wizards in a time-traveling story to help Strange protect Yao (a young Ancient One) in a trial and, once their mission succeeded, he returned everyone to their respective universe and timeline.
Mordo was one of the sorcerers Merlin used, so it seems his heroic actions may have garnered him a secret reprieve. He has shown altruistic tendencies in the past, such as helping his nemesis fight off Dormammu to preserve the Earth. At times, he's displayed more of an antihero persona than a straight-up villain, but those moments are too few and far between (which, ironically, is the path the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be following for the character, as played by Chiwetel Ejiofor).
With his means of escape still unknown, we're eager to see which other allies he's recruited. Mordo always has aces up his sleeves -- heck, he's even used black magic to cheat cancer, so you know he's got contingency plans just waiting in the wings. That's why he's always been so formidable for Strange; he knows him intimately and crafts strategies to suit.
He's worked with Doctor Doom, Loki and several other demons and supernatural beings, so it's tough to pin down who's joined his crusade. But what we do know for sure is Mordo has his very own Strange in Casey, and that alone puts our favorite magical Avenger at a huge disadvantage. Hopefully he can reel Casey back to the light, because when Mordo's unleashed like this it usually takes Strange's entire magical arsenal to bring him down.