As Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe, Stephen Strange has tangled with all manner of dangerous foes, but in Doctor Strange #381, writer Donny Cates and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta kicked off their run by pitting their protagonist against a literal god who’s known for both his skill at sorcery and his unparalleled cunning; Loki.
The conflict began slowly, with the trickster god first stealing Strange's mystical title. Their antagonism exploded when Strange uncovered Loki's plans to take control of all magic; a confrontation that led to the death of one of the Sorcerer Supreme's friends. Now, Strange has escalated the conflict by seeking aid from a hero who killed Loki in one of his past lives: the Sentry.
With vast physical power and a monstrous dark side (known as the Void), the Sentry is one of the most dangerous beings in the Marvel Universe. He also has a rather complex history which begs the question: What does his return mean for Doctor Strange? For the answers to those questions and more, we spoke with Cates about his plans for the Sentry. We also touched upon his love for Loki, the personal reason he had Stephen Strange become a veterinarian, and the short life of Strange's canine best friend, Bats.
CBR: At the end of issue #382, we saw that the Sentry had returned to the Marvel Universe. What made you want to bring him back?
Donny Cates: I love that character! As soon as I got to Marvel, I started asking my editorial teams about him. I was like, “Does anybody have dibs?” [Laughs]
Speaking very personally, I've been sober for about three years now. Sentry was a character who always really spoke to and touched me because it's this idea of trying to be a good person, but having this dark half where it can seem like for every good action you do, your dark half destroys things ten-fold -- to me that's what the Sentry and the Void was.
When I started on Strange I started playing with the ideas Jason Aaron had put in his run of magic always having a consequence and price. So you had the idea of Stephen Strange wanting to do good, but ultimately having to balance out how much these things cost and having to deal with the darker half of his good intentions. That led me very naturally towards the Sentry. The Sentry and Stephen have that in common. They both have massive prices to pay for just wanting to be good people and to help.
Also, the Sentry is so cool. He gets a lot of flack sometimes for being “overpowered,” or basically Superman. He's so not, though. You can do things with the Sentry that you could never do with Superman.
I think that there's something really beautiful about this idea of a DC character finding themselves in a Marvel world and having to deal with these real life consequences. He's such a Marvel character, so to that end I always thought he was a very natural fit.
Stephen obviously has a plan for the Sentry, and there's a very good reason why he chose him. That will play out over the remainder of this arc.