Marvel Legacy: Donny Cates' Strange Magic


by Vince Brusio

Doctor Strange is one of the first books to roll out ushering in the new era of Marvel Legacy. Here in this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview, we ask writer Donny Cates to give us a brief peek into what unfolds in issue #381 of Doctor Strange!


Vince Brusio: You’ve got the master of the mystic arts crossing streams with the God of Lies and Mischief. Such a chemical combination, if mixed incorrectly, could cause an explosion so massive that all working scientists and their workspace could be blown to kingdom come, with a body count high enough that you’re guaranteed coverage on a nightly newscast. So being that these two guys are such heavy hitters, what were your initial thoughts on what kind of fireworks you might want to pre-arrange for this storyline? What kind of sparks did you want to strike, and have you been told by any editors that there are certain books of matches you can’t play with for fear of setting off too many explosions?

Donny Cates: Stephen and Loki are so fun to match up against one another. One gets the impression that they dislike each other for reasons even beyond good and evil. And yeah, there’s also the whole “Loki is the new Sorcerer Supreme and is living in Stephen’s house and wearing his clothes” thing, too. So that's not helping anything. They’re both enigmatic and complicated, perhaps too alike to ever be on the same page. That’s the kind of volatility that I love to play with between the two.

But really…I can’t say too much. There are some rather enormous changes coming for both of them, and I do believe Marvel would like me to keep them close to the vest.

And as far as books of matches! The second issue of my run (Doctor Strange #382) has one of the craziest reveals in recent Marvel history. It’s something I pitched when I first got to Marvel, and I was convinced as I pitched it that they would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS let me get away with it.

Well, they did. And to return to your metaphor about books of matches…issue two is a nuclear bomb.

Vince Brusio: It’s been mentioned that Zelma Stanton is on loan as Loki’s assistant. That’s got the potential for being a major sub-plot in and of itself. Strange’s librarian — who was once infected with mind maggots — can now potentially be put under the spell of a Norse god because, what, Strange wants to be a nice guy? You must be drooling at the possibilities for creating such drama. But is this story going to be grounded in such mind games, or do you see things playing out more quickly, with the possible threat of whiplash? A more kinetic plot and pace as opposed to Manchurian candidate skullduggery?

Donny Cates: The majority of the stories I tend to write move at a pretty good clip. And this one is no different. Things hit the ground running in this series and escalate faster than I think anyone will be ready for. Whiplash is a great word to use.

As far as Zelma goes, she’s a character that Jason Aaron brought to the book that I just loved the moment I met her. I knew I wanted to have her be a crucial part of the series. Zelma is no one’s pawn though; she’s not one to be pushed around or unduly influenced.

Where we find Zelma at the beginning of our story is going to shock a lot of people. Some people might not be wild about it, in fact. But what I’ve found in writing her character, is that she never quite does what anyone thinks she will.

Not even me.

She’s a surprising one, that Zelma Stanton. One to keep your eye on.

Look for it in the September Marvel PREVIEWS!

Evil is everywhere and the world needs the Sorcerer Supreme more than ever. But is the world ready for LOKI: SORCERER SUPREME?  He has the cloak, the spells — he’s even got Zelma Stanton as his assistant (and possibly more?) — but is this the chance he needed to become a hero, or is the god of lies dangerously close to unlimited power? And what happened to STEPHEN STRANGE? 


Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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