WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Doctor Strange #385 by Donny Cates, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire and Cory Petit, on sale now.
Writer Donny Cates and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta kicked off their run on Doctor Strange by shaking up the status quo; instead of Stephen Strange starring as the Marvel Universe's Sorcerer Supreme, he was replaced by the Asgardian trickster god, Loki.
While readers wondered how Loki managed to obtain this prestigious title, and where this development would leave Stephen heading into Marvel Legacy, Cates assured fans that wasn't the mystery they should focus on, opting to direct our attention to the question of why Loki is in his new role. However, it's not time to shift attention back to the "how" -- Doctor Strange #383 has pulled back the curtain on Stephen's demotion, revealing the good doctor lost to Loki in a tournament of sorcerers, hosted by the Vishanti.
But is that what really happened? Did Loki really get the best of Doctor Strange? As with most things concerning the God of Mischief, there is more to this story than meets the eye.
The Tournament Of Sorcerers
We learned that every few decades, the Vishanti gather the world's greatest sorcerers together, and make them compete in a mystical game to see who will be named that realm's Sorcerer Supreme. Stephen won the first two tournaments he attended, but the rules seemed to change for his third. After beating his competitors and ultimately coming out victorious, the Vishanti decided to choose a new Sorcerer Supreme -- Loki, who not only wasn't competing, but wasn't even invited the first place.
The Vishanti's reasoning boiled down to no longer wanting a mortal to hold the role of Sorcerer Supreme. Of course, since Loki is a god looking to make amends for the sins of his past, he made the perfect candidate.
Not pleased with being replaced, Doctor Strange spent the last few issues concocting a plan to take down Loki and gain back his title. There was also the little matter of Stephen not wanting Loki to find the Exile of Singhsoon -- a spell that would give its caster all of the world's magic -- inside his friend Zelma Stanton. However, Stephen's taken some extreme measures to accomplish this goal -- recruiting the Sentry, stealing magic from Asgard's World Tree, and allowing himself to be possessed by the Sentry's evil opposite, the Void.
It was the presence of the Void that forced Doctor Strange and Loki to put their differences aside, and work together to defeat the dark, evil being. With the day won, Stephen and Loki looked to be on the verge of a truce, until Zelma stepped in to pull the rug out from under this promising bromance.