Doctor Strange (Origins)

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At a young age, Stephen Strange had dreams of becoming a doctor. The eldest child of three, Strange was born in 1930 while his parents Eugene and Beverly Strange were on vacation in Philadelphia. At the age of eleven he aided his younger sister Donna when she was injured, which proved to be a formative experience for him, and he was inspired to attend med school after high school. Ironically, it was his inability to later save her from drowning when he was nineteen and on leave from college that undermined his belief in life’s meaning and the value of idealism. Nevertheless, he rapidly finished med school at a young age and became a successful neurosurgeon.

Strange displayed phenomenal talent in his chosen field, and quickly attained wealth and notoriety. The more successful he became, the more arrogant he grew. Eventually this led to estrangement from his family and the undoing of his relationship with a United Nations translator named Madeline Revell to whom he had proposed marriage. So distant and self-absorbed did he become that he refused to visit his father on his deathbed. His enraged younger brother Victor Strange berated him for this, and then was killed as he ran into traffic. Stephen then placed the body of his brother into cryogenic storage. At a much later stage Stephen attempted to restore his brother through magical means, but instead imbued him with the curse of vampirism.

A car accident that damaged the nerves in his hands changed everything for Stephen Strange. He was no longer able to be a surgeon, yet he refused to become an assistant or consultant, instead squandering his money traveling the world and searching for a cure. One day he heard a rumor of a mystical personage known as the Ancient One in Tibet. Marshaling the last of his inner and outer resources, Strange diligently searched until the fortress of the Ancient One was revealed to him. Though initially outraged that the aged mystic refused to cure his hands, Strange’s anger was quickly replaced by amazement when the reality of magical forces was demonstrated before his eyes as he witnessed an attack on the Ancient One.

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Circumstances revealed to Strange that it was none other than Baron Mordo, the Ancient One’s chief disciple, who was the perpetrator of the attack, and who continued to plot the destruction of the antediluvian mystic in an attempt to gain power. To his horror, Strange learned he was unable to reveal this after Mordo easily encircled him. Realizing the Ancient One was a force for good; Stephen selflessly abandoned his quest to restore his hands and committed himself to magical tutelage with the intention of foiling Mordo’s insidious scheme. By this act Strange proved himself to the Ancient One, to whom the entire melodrama had been transparent. Thus Doctor Strange put himself on the path to become the new Sorcerer Supreme of the Earth dimension, yet gained a deadly enemy in Baron Mordo.

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After many years of training, Strange returned to New York. He became a mystical consultant and started having interactions with the superhero community.

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After the Fantastic Four formed and many superheroes began to surface, Doctor Strange found a friend in Spider-Man. Spider-Man helped him rescue a group of people from another dimension and suggested that Strange remove from their memory this traumatic experience, though this meant that they would forget his own heroism. Initially tricked into conflict with each other by Loki, Thor and Doctor Strange also formed an early alliance to combat the god of mischief.

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Noteworthy among the good Doctor’s numerous foes over the years as Earth’s magical guardian were the Dread Dormammu, Shuma-Gorath, the Undying Ones, and Nightmare. Strange’s first battle with Dormammu ensued when the powerful demigod of the Dark Dimension attempted to invade earth’s plane as he perceived the wane of the Ancient One’s might. Strange was forced to duel Dormammu in the Dark Dimension, and though vastly out-powered by the god-like entity, Strange was able to tax Dormammu to the extent that the barrier separating beings know as the Mindless Ones from the rest of the Dark Dimension became compromised. A force of pure destruction, the Mindless Ones would have meant annihilation to the other denizens of Dormmamu’s realm, and Strange nobly contributed his power to his enemy to prevent their being unleashed.

Bound by whatever strange honor as applies to his daemonic ilk, Dormammu then called off his invasion and released Strange. They were to clash many times subsequently, however, and Dormammu has been one of Strange’s most implacable and powerful foes. It was during this adventure that Doctor Strange also met Clea, a beautiful but inexperienced mystic (the daughter of Umar, Dormmamu’s sister), who became Strange’s first apprentice, as well as his lover.

In one of his more bizarre adventures, Strange fought the demonic forces of Shuma-Gorath, an ancient Lovecraftian entity that coveted earth’s domination from the world’s distant past and this time threatened our reality using the very mind of Doctor Strange’s beloved mentor, the Ancient One. Though it agonized him, Strange was left with no choice but to obey his teacher and slay him to prevent the holocaust Shuma-Gorath would have unleashed upon the world. The Ancient One then ascended to become one with the being known as Eternity, while Strange inherited the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme.

The Defenders were born when Doctor Strange formed a bizarre team-up with the Hulk, Namor, and later the Silver Surfer. These four strong personalities somehow managed to work together and started the unlikely super-team known as the Defenders to combat yet another world-conquering demonic threat, this time in the form of beings called the Undying Ones who were led by the evil and ancient Nameless One.

 

The Defenders went on to battle numerous threats both supernatural and mundane (so to speak), and were joined in an oft-changing roster that included such unlikely characters as the Silver Surfer, Hellstorm, the Overmind, Valkyrie, Nighthawk, and Hellcat.

In yet another impressive display of the capabilities of a Sorcerer Supreme, Strange opposed Dracula himself to rid the world, at least for a time, of the plague of vampirism. Assisted by a dedicated band of vampire hunters (Hannibal King, Blade, and Frank Drake) and Wong. Doctor Strange kept Dracula busy, while the others recited the Montessi Formula from The Darkhold and destroyed virtually all the world’s vampires, including Dracula.

Yet this very undoing for most of the world’s vampires interacted with the previous spells Stephen Strange had attempted in his resurrection of his brother Victor, causing Victor to rise from the grave as the undead. Later developments also allowed the resurrection of many of the destroyed Nosferatu, though Strange banished the Vampire Verses to another plane of existence

Strange went on to battle a host of threats to the Earth dimension, at times battling cosmic entities such as the In-Betweener; participating in the power struggles over the dominion of the Dark Dimension between Clea, Umar, and Dormammu; and joining other heroes to oppose Thanos in his attempt to gain the Infinity Gauntlet; to name but a few. He has triumphed over others bearing the title Sorcerer Supreme, such as Salome, the first Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, and Shanzar, the Sorcerer Supreme of another dimension. Though he at first resisted such calls because of his duties as Earth’s mystical protector, Strange was eventually drawn into a 5,000 year battle against the Trinity of Ashes on the side of the Vishanti. Because of the magical nature of the realm in which he fought, or because of his innate power, Strange was absent from his home dimension for this conflict for only a few months in everyone else’s perceptions and appeared to age but little.
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Secret Defenders and Midnight Sons

Though unquestionably a mighty force for good that has saved the Earth and even the universe from destruction multiple times, Doctor Strange found it necessary to have heroes regroup themselves. He did so in the reformation of the Defenders, nicknamed the Secret Defenders. This group consisted of an ever changing roster of superheroes that where right for the job. Doctor Strange also played an important role in the formation of the Midnight Sons, whom battled an alien invasion and other occult creatures.

Doctor Strange does continue to show a certain predilection for arrogance, as evidenced by his susceptibility to Yandroth’s manipulation when Namor, the Hulk, the Silver Surfer and himself banded together to essentially take over the world. Yandroth had banded the four together by an apparently unbreakable curse (because it was the will of Gaea) that forced them to be teleported to the scene whenever a threat to the Earth manifested. The curse also heightened their natural egotism and irritability, which for these four was considerable. Unwilling to be snatched away from their other responsibilities any time the curse decreed there was a threat, the four decided instead to form the Order, which would keep the world safe by taking control and preventing threats from arising. Opposed by the other heroes of earth, the four appeared to have the power to triumph, but they realized in time that Yandroth was mystically siphoning the power generated by their violence to resurrect himself with the power of a god.

While they called off their plans and dispersed, they would not surrender themselves to mortal authorities for judgment. Doctor Strange was able to convince Gaea to let the four serve her willingly, and the curse was broken.

It was revealed that Doctor Strange had been a participant in the Illuminati, a group of superheroes whom tried to discuss the biggest threads in the universe and solve them themselves. Dr. Strange became a member of the New Avengers after the end of the Civil War, which he did not become involved in. He assisted the team on their first mission to Japan, and was severely wounded. During their second mission, to defeat The Hood’s Gang, Dr. Strange had to use extreme magic to take them all down.

Prior to the event of World War Hulk, Strange was one of the Illuminati who voted to exile the Hulk because of his destructive tendencies. When the Hulk came back and demanded the presence of the those who exiled him, Strange infiltrated his mind as a way to calm him down, but Hulk knew this move all along and gave him the opportunity to break Strange’s hands, so that he could not use his magic. Strange became desperate and drank a vial containing the essence of Zom, a powerful demon that he had once faced. When Strange and Hulk fought, Strange was winning but not before realizing that Zom is slowly influencing his actions. With this realization, he was defeated by Hulk and held captive in his make-shift gladiator arena of Madison Square Garden.

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Strange later left the New Avengers feeling that he’d used too much dark magic, and must train in the use of light magic again. In the end, he failed in his duties as Sorcerer Supreme, thus his title is removed from him. In light of this he no longer wore his cloak of levitation nor the eye of Agamotto. Instead he went out to search for the new Sorcerer Supreme, hoping it was someone who had good intents instead of evil. The first person he visited was Wiccan, but there he was attacked by The Hood who was taken over by his demonic cape. With the help of Wiccan he managed to escape and went to the New Avengers for help.

Together they went to Hellstorm During the ride there, the eye of Agamotto glowed brightly and disapeared, according to Dr. Strange to the new Sorcerer Supreme. In the meantime the Hood was fighting Hellstorm but the fight was interrupted when a new player came in, Brother Voodoo, wearing the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto. The New Sorcerer Supreme!

After fighting off Hood and Dormmamu along side his allies Strange offers to train Voodoo in his new title which he accepts. Later during the Dark Reign Iron Man attempts to hide the information of the super heroes from Norman Osborn and wipes his mind clean which causes him to loose his intellect and after a beating by Osborn himself falls into a coma. Several attempts are made to revive him and soon Strange is called in to help. After traveling into Stark’s mind he is able to bring him out of his dream and accept that he is Iron Man. While vulnerable Ghost arrives hoping to kill Stark but Strange comes out of his spell first and fights Ghost, but is wounded in battle. Iron Man awakens next and transports Ghost away with his own technology.

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After Osborn finally snapped and attacked Asgard Steve Rogers was given Osborn’s old position and invited Strange to once again join the Avengers and he accepts. Soon after joining a demonic force possessing Strange and Damian Hellstorm attacks Doctor Voodoo trying to take the Eye of Agamotto by force. The mystical item teleports itself to the Mansion but is chased by the same force going from Luke Cage to eventually Iron Fist. After releasing a demonic army and kidnapping Iron Fist the source of the assault takes on the form of The Ancient One but after realizing his actions are uncharacteristic it is revealed to be Agamotto himself. He claims the Vishanti are dead and he want’s his eye back. The Avengers accept a challenge from him and imbue Wolverine with all their combined powers to fight against Agamotto. In end Voodoo uses the power of the eye to apparently kill both Agamotto and himself.

Doctor Strange issue 169-183 Click here

When Blackheart tried to use a Hell created Centrifuge to plunge Earth into Hell, Strange and Daimon Hellstorm were present to try and prevent this. However, Johnny Blaze had already placed an amulet, given to Hawkeye by Strange, on the border of Las Vegas, preventing Hell from stretching any further.

However, while Venom, Red Hulk, X-23 and the new Ghost Rider fight within the barrier to prevent Hell and Blackheart from succeeding, Strange and Daimon work from the outside to prevent Hell spreading further, when the amulet shatters. They battle fiercely until Daimon gives in, under the persuasion of Blackheart. Fortunately, the four heroes within find a way to reverse the march of Hell and to defeat Blackheart, freeing Strange and Daimon, who notices that the four heroes have been marked with pentagrams similar to his own.

Dr. Strange took part in the battle between the Avengers and the X-Men over the return of the Phoenix Force to earth. He battled Magik in her domain of Limbo, but without the powers of the Sorcerer Supreme he was ultimately defeated by her. Magik took advantage of this by posing as Strange and teleporting the X-Men away from their impending arrest at the hands of the Avengers. After the Phoenix empowers five prominent X-Men the Avengers are forced to go on the run.

As skirmishes break out between the X-Men and the Avengers, Dr. Strange is seen providing magical assistance such as using illusions of the Scarlet Witch to intimidate the Phoenix Five and teleporting teams away from one-sided fights. When the final assault is launched against Cyclops, Strange uses the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak to bind the Phoenix avatar while Charles Xavier pleads with and then attacks his former student mentally. When Cyclops breaks free, Strange participates in the fight against him.

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Daniel Drumm later returns to seek revenge on Strange and the other Avengers for failing to prevent Brother Voodoo’s death. Strange is framed for the murder of Victoria Hand, which results in S.H.I.E.L.D. making a move on Avengers Mansion. Daniel subsequently possesses the various Avengers and forces them to battle Strange before Strange manages to defeat him once and for all. For his victory, he is reinstated as the Sorcerer Supreme and given back his old artifacts.

Doctor Strange leaves the Avengers a short while later, and is not part of the group when it is restructured by Captain America and Iron Man.

Doctor Strange continues to work with the Illuminati in secret, with the group coming together once more to prevent multiversal incursions that threaten their world. Around this time, Strange is called in by monks to save a young Asian girl named Princess Phan, who has become posssessed by a powerful demonic entity. Stephen is unable to defeat the demon without killing Phan, so he instead offers to become its new host in exchange for releasing the child. The entity later manifests itself during the Illuminati’s battle with the Great Society, which results in Strange violently killing most of the heroes.

Doctor Strange and the rest of the Illuminati are later branded fugitives by Captain America, and are forced to go on the run. Strange disappears from this plane of existence but resurfaces as the new leader of the Black Priests.

Harley Quinn (Origins)

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Harley’s origin was, for years, identical in the comics to the one seen in the Batman animated series.

But, in the comic series Harley Quinn, a quite different one was established.

Born Harleen Quinzel, Harley’s mother is a somewhat harsh, but forgiving lady, who constantly calls Harley evil and compares her to other heroes. Harley’s younger brother is a dead beat with children from at least two different women and still lives in his mothers house. Harley apparently sent him several large sums of money to get his life on track, but he squandered it. Harley’s father is a criminal con-man, known for swindling women out of their money with his charm. Harley states that the main reason she became a psychiatrist was so she could understand why her father did what he did to their family.

Harley went to study psychology, but found doing so dull. She tricked her way in to a college.

She came up with a theory about being in love having similarities with being a criminal. About, how far can someone go for love and decided to use her boyfriend, Guy, as the test subject, pretending that she had committed various crimes, such as murdering a teacher, to Guy’s surprise. Thinking he was looking out for Harley he shoots an innocent man believing him to be “murdered” professor who hadn’t died yet.

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Guy thinks that he can`t live with the guilt, and wants to die, but can’t bring himself to suicide and asks Harley to kill him instead. And she does, for love, disguising the murder as a suicide.

Traumatized by these events, she begins to believe that universe is in a constant state of chaos, like Guy thought. She represses her feelings of sorrow, and feels connected with the Joker, who believes in some of the same things as Guy, and so finds a job at Arkham Asylum, demanding to speak to him.

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During the very first session, she shows the Joker her blossoming insanity, and obsession towards him. Joker finds this appealing, and Harley helps him escape various times, before eventually becoming his henchgirl.

Eventually Harley was caught by Batman and put into a cell in Arkham – she is able to escape time and time again. During the events of No Man’s Land she is finally able to escape, immediately choosing to rejoin with the Joker and help him in his crimes. Later, in another retelling of her origin it is explained that she was a psychology student working part time as a stripper to pay her bills.

She lies about Joker having seduced her, and making her gradually insane, later on.

DC’s Animated Universe

Harley’s origin was told in Batman: The Animated Series episode and comic entitled Mad Love. The story starts off with Dr. Harleen Quinzel working as an intern in Arkham Asylum. She discovered the Joker and quickly became fascinated with his insane motives. She voluntarily asked for a chance to analyse him. During one of their sessions the Joker tells her about his tragic past and how his father abused him. She gained sympathy for him and quickly fell in love with him. She helped the Joker escape dressed up a the Harley Quinn. So, started her career as the Joker’s sidekick.

Later, Harley finds out that everything the Joker had told her was most likely a lie or scam. He was deliberately telling her what she wanted to hear to endear himself to her. This is something that Joker does to Harley all throughout their relationship. She knows this and continually tries to leave him but like an abused spouse, she just keeps forgiving him and runs back into his arms all the time. Of course Harley gets her license revoked when her superior Joan Leland finds out she is the one who released the Joker.

Ever since the beginning of her relationship with the Joker, Harley has played a very submissive role. She has often been used and abused by the Joker to the point where her life has been threatened on several occasions. Yet she remains faithful to her man and stands by him when things go wrong. Quinn’s relationship with the Joker is one of the most complex and twisted love affairs in comics. As with all people, Joker is abusive and manipulative towards Harley, but just as often there’s evidence of camaraderie, playfulness, and affection towards her. She’s the only person who’s managed to become intimate on such a long term basis with the Joker and, while he generally accepts their relationship, we even see the Joker’s occasional moments of confusion and discomfort which results in attempts to kill her.

Harley Quinn was originally created for the cartoon Batman: The Animated Series by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in 1992. She was originally only intended for the episode “Joker’s Favor,” however she became so popular over night that she made more appearances on the show and it’s various spin-offs and movies. She was also in the comics that were part of the same universe as the television show known as the DC Animated Universe (DCAU). There she first appeared in The Batman Adventures issue 12 (1993).

Harley was inspired by actress Arleen Sorkin, largely due to her character wearing a jester costume in an episode of Days of Our Lives. This is where Dini got some of the ideas for Harley’s costume and personality. The show even got the actress Arleen Sorkin to voice the character in the show and history was made.

She became so popular in fact that DC decided to bring her over into the mainstream DC universe. This Harley Quinn however lost some of the characteristics that made her so popular on the show and she was written as a much more psychotic dark character than she had been in the DCAU. Harley’s first comic book appearance in the continuity of the mainstream DC Universe was in Batman: Harley Quinn issue 1 (10/1999) which was written by Paul Dini.

Character Evolution

Modern Age: New Earth

Harley Quinn (New Earth)
Harley Quinn (New Earth)

Harley’s career as the Joker’s sidekick consisted mostly of her being where he could not. He used her less recognizable face to get into places he could not so he wouldn’t get arrested, and she was also usually a sort of field leader to Joker’s henchmen when Joker himself decided to sit out on whatever they where doing. She was trusted with the intimate details of most of his plans, and as stated earlier, was also often betrayed by Joker when he needed a scapegoat. After a while Harley got fed up with Joker and set off on her own. She even started a gang of her own that didn’t last very long due to many or all of the gang being killed shortly after it was formed. She also teamed up with Poison Ivy and had some run-ins with Thorn and Superman.

Post-Flashpoint: Earth-0

Harley Quinn (Earth-0)

With the changes brought to the DC Universe by the launch of The New 52 following the events of Flashpoint, Harley has undergone further evolution, with a new look, origin and history. The architect of her changes being Adam Glass. The arc introducing set to introduce the new origin of Harley Quinn, which, according to the series’ writer, is set to have a deeper psychological aspect to it, not necessarily changing familiar traits of the character, but adding more to her mythos. Glass has also expressed his belief in Harley being more than just a support character. “I think the difference between the Harley in my book and what Paul Dini did is that I’m writing a Harley that is not about the Joker. Now I’ll go on record for saying this, but I think that Harley Quinn will always be loyal and faithful to the Joker when he is around. But when the Joker is not around she’s a young woman who is very capable of doing many things, and she is her own person.”

She appears in the ongoing series titled “Suicide Squad” along side of Deadshot, El Diablo, Black Spider, King Shark, and Sportsmaster. Most notable changes has happened to her wardrobe and general design, with the color scheme of blue and red replacing the most well known black and red combo. Her hair is now exposed, and changed to a half red and blue color, replacing the blonde. Overall her design has been heavily criticized for lacking familiar elements of the quirky clown, sacrificing her usual character qualities for sex appeal. The main issue with the new look is mostly agreed to be lack of jester appearance, which has initially been Harley Quinn’s namesake. The only justification to the change from Bruce Timm’s classic design given has been that “People liked her look in Arkham Asylum”. No real further comment was provided.

Harley’s origin was tweaked. She remained a doctor at Arkham Asylum where she “treated” the Joker, but knew from the get go that he was lying to her. Regardless, she still fell for him, and when she found out that her superior was stealing her research for a book, it drove Harley to help the Joker escape. Joker would bring her to the chemical plant where Batman caused the accident that bleached his skin, deforming him, and throws Harley into the same chemicals, causing a similar effect on her.