WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange #20, by Mark Waid, Javier Pina, Brian Reber and VC's Cory Petit, on sale now.
Mark Waid's Doctor Strange has taken the Sorcerer Supreme on the ride of his life, stripping him of his powers, forcing him to re-learn magic and pushing him as he worked as hard as ever to fend off threats like Galactus and Dormammu in mystical wars looking to ravage Earth.
However, the last issue saw Strange use forbidden magic to heal his hands, making him the expert surgeon he once was. Sadly, in the final issue, Doctor Strange #20, we discover these repaired hands are actually Doc's greatest weakness when it comes to casting spells.
Strange wants to upload different spells from the Internet to his mind, so he calls in Kanna, an alien woman from earlier on in this series who helped him traverse space and time. He believes this is a short-cut, but still, he wants to have as many spells in him as possible, which leads to an adventure between himself and Kanna in the Darkarian system. Unfortunately, they also meet an artificial intelligence known as the Ancient One, who wants them all dead due to their intrusion.
Strange, however, finds his hands don't have muscle memory they once did anymore and they can't react in time to what his mouth is saying and mind is thinking in the heat of battle. With this alien threat in full swing, overcoming its A.I. won't be easy, with Strange worried now that he feels his hands don't have the magic in the them anymore.
Strange's ritual may have turned his hands into a powerful tool for surgery once more, but it's clear to see the Sorcerer Supreme has become incompetent on the magical side. Strange's hands seem to have switched back to science mode, as previewed by the upcoming Doctor Strange: Surgeon Supreme book, where we'll see the fallout of this pact and how he's struggling to work magic into them again.
Notably, Strange's PTSD manifests via the villain, Nightmare, who's taunting him over how he has to pick one side, as he sees himself only killing patients on the operating table. Strange can't stop thinking about failing and letting down his loved ones. Luckily for him, as he puts aside those earlier visions, he realizes he can still summon weapons and use his cape to help destroy the A.I.
Still, you can't help but feel he's short-changed without his hands being able to conjure spells. While he could still be a boss in the surgery room, if he can't use his hands to properly cast spells, what good would he be as a sorcerer?
Kanna eventually returns home after they defeat the A.I., leaving Strange in his Sanctum Sanctorum trying, through the use of scrolls and scripture, to level up for the next mystical threat. After his knowledge upload, there's also some romantic tension between him and Kanna that he hopes could blossom into a relationship but, as it stands, Strange is comfortable where he is right now. Well, apart from his hands. Hopefully his intense research on to get them back to how they were before will ensure he doesn't end up becoming a liability.
He wants the perfect digits for both his scientific and magical game, because with his hands in good health, it'll keep him as one of the strongest Avengers around. Let's hope things work out soon, though, because Strange can feel bigger threats looming and he wants to be ready -- whether it's for surgery or sorcery -- as soon as possible.