SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Doctor Strange #384 by Donny Cates, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire and Cory Petit, on sale now.
Loki may be the Sorcerer Supreme, but Stephen Strange isn’t giving up the fight. A brief career change towards veterinary medicine, Doctor Strange has vowed to keep Loki away from The Exile of Singhsoon, an incredibly powerful spell which grants its wielder the power over all the world’s magic.
Working alongside his former assistant Wong and the newly resurrected Sentry, Doctor Strange has accessed the power of The World Tree and now wants to take Loki head-on. The Asgardian trickster god, meanwhile, is trying to get behind the only locked door in the Sanctum Sanctorum because he believes The Exile of Singhsoon is located within -- but by the end of the issue he’s going to learn otherwise, and wish that door had remained locked.
Everything Has A Price
One of the biggest changes that Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo made to Doctor Strange’s powers was the concept of cause and effect when it came to magic. Every spell comes with a physical price and the more powerful the spell, the more damage it would do to the bearer’s wellbeing. In order to counteract that, Wong established the Disciples of Strange behind Stephen’s back — monks who would suffer and die in Doctor Strange’s place, allowing him to save the world and the universe on numerous occasions. It’s this concept that’s not only behind Loki’s position as the new Sorcerer Supreme, but also the secret power that allows Doctor Strange to wield the power of The World Tree.
Under Cates and Walta's watch, Doctor Strange resurrected The Sentry, who most recently was one of The Apocalypse Twins’ Four Horsemen of Death. By removing The Void and training him to focus on meditation and self-care, Doctor Strange has created the ultimate vessel to foist the cost of his magic on. Loki is a god and can pay the price easily, but Doctor Strange needs the man with the power of one million exploding suns to allow him to take the god on. However, when Zelma Stanton takes away their ability to use magic for three minutes, it becomes a case of one man vs one god, a dilemma that leads Doctor Strange to make a deal with the devil.
The Hole In All Things
In order to face Loki, Doctor Strange is forced to unlock the door in his Sanctum, revealing the God of Stories’ worst fear: The Void.
The Void is a cosmic force for evil that also makes up one half of The Sentry. When Robert Reynolds became The Sentry, he also became The Void, and for every act of good that The Sentry committed, The Void would commit an act of terror and destruction to balance the cosmic scales.
Back when The Sentry was a member of the Dark Avengers, Norman Osborn exploited his mental illness and got under his skin to the point that Osborn’s downfall saw The Void completely overtake The Sentry. It killed Loki in a brutal fashion at the time, and nearly destroyed The Avengers and Asgardians until Thor was able to kill Robert Reynolds while he was in the midst of a moment of lucidity.
Longtime marvel readers knew that Doctor Strange had been able to separate The Sentry from The Void, but until now we didn’t know what he did with the separate parts. Now, Doctor Strange is possessed by The Void, the latest episode in a history of allowing himself to be possessed by uncontrollable powers, like back when he gave himself to Zom in "World War Hulk." A Void-powered Doctor Strange is a terrible thing, especially considering the link he currently has with The Sentry and if the two beings manage to merge again, it could spell disaster for the entire Marvel Universe.