WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Doctor Strange #19 by Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz, on sale now
Doctor Strange is one of the most powerful sorcerers in the history of the Marvel Universe, capable of amazing feats with cosmic-level impact. But the former surgeon also had a stronger reminder of who he was in his hands, which have remained weak and jittery despite his immense magical powers. But all of that changes in Doctor Strange #19 by Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz, when Doctor Strange takes a spell from a demon's library to restore the use of his hands so he can save a life. But what will the cost be?
On a rainy road, a suddenly appearing phantasm scares a woman named Tonya into crashing her car. Although she's relatively unhurt, her son Danny receives a serious head injury in the accident. With only minutes before the boy dies, Doctor Strange, who is passing by, assumes his astral form and ventures into the nether space between mystical planes. There, he comes across the demon lord Channok, who looks like a mass of tumors on top of one another. Channok possesses an accursed library of ancient tomes from ancient times, full of terrible spells that come with horrible prices. Stephen requests a spell that can restore his hands, giving him back the skill he needs to perform emergency surgery on the boy.
Although the spell risks draining Strange of his magical powers, he goes through with it anyway. The spell initially appears to destroy his hands, but then proceeds to (painfully) regrow them. With his fresh fingers, Strange's trademark tremble is gone. The injury that's plagued him since the fateful car crash that started him on the path of becoming Doctor Strange has been healed. Strange is able to utilize both his hands and his magic, giving him the chance to successfully perform the surgery and save Danny's life.
The Devil Their Due
The deal is a major return for Stephen Strange. Before the accident that cost him the use of his hands, Strange was one of the most respected surgeons in the world. But with that admiration came an arrogance that Strange had to learn to move past once he started using magic. The loss of his hands was a crucial piece of that. But now, his hands are restored but he still seems to understand the sanctity of life and the importance of doing the right thing, even at the risk of oneself.
However, there is a dark side to this deal. Channok promises that even if the spell doesn't immediately doom Strange (and the Earth itself thanks to its lack of mystical defender), the price for the spell will someday come. Strange seems aware of that when he makes the initial deal, but his excitement over his mended hands takes over in the climax of the comic. He's not thinking of Channok or the price that he'll have to eventually pay. He's just happy to have his hands back.
We know from recent announcements that Doctor Strange would be resuming his medical career as a surgeon, in tandem with his position as the Sorcerer Supreme. Now we know how the simple but noble way he regained the use of his hands. But the question is what kind of price will he have to pay for his actions? Will it have any further ties to Tonya and Danny, or will they be spared whatever grim fate doubtlessly awaits Strange? The preview hints that the bill may come due sooner than he's expecting, meaning it would be long before Strange finds out how much Danny's life really cost.
Dr. Strange: Surgeon Supreme #1, by Mark Waid and Kev Walker, goes on sale in Dec. from Marvel Comics.