Doctor Strange: The Oath

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Doctor Strange: The Oath
Cover of the 1st issue
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Limited series
Publication date December 2006 – April 2007
Number of issues 5
Main character(s) Doctor Strange
Creative team
Writer(s) Brian K. Vaughan
Penciller(s) Marcos Martin
Inker(s) Alvaro Lopez
Letterer(s) Javier Rodriguez
Colorist(s) Willie Schubert
Collected editions
Paperback ISBN 978-0-7851-2211-1

Doctor Strange: The Oath is a comic book limited series written by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn by Marcos Martin, published by Marvel Comics and starring the superhero Doctor Strange.

Story Line[edit]

“The Oath” is a comic book graphic novel from Marvel Comics published in 2007. It contains reprinted issues of the five Doctor Strange comic books following the story arc called “The Oath”, from the Marvel Limited Series that were published in 2006-2007. The story arc follows Doctor Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme. He’s in a race against time to find the person who tried to kill him. It’s also a race to find a stolen magical elixir that will hopefully cure the terminal cancer of Wong, his faithful servant. Doctor Strange finds himself facing another disciple of the Ancient One, who has learned about the elixir and is determined to destroy it.

Doctor Strange – The Oath – Chapter 1

Story by Brian K. Vaughan, Art by Marcos Martin, Inks by Alvaro Lopez, and Letters by Willie Schubert. Assistant Editors – Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson, Editor – Tom Brevort, Editor in Chief – Joe Quesada, and Publisher – Dan Buckley with acknowledgment to the works of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

The story arc begins at night in New York City during a storm. In the lobby of the hospice belonging to Night Nurse, Iron Fist and Araña are waiting for treatment. Their small talk is interrupted by the alarm to the front door. A dripping wet Wong, servant to the Sorcerer Supreme, is dragging the unconscious, bleeding Doctor Strange, begging for help. He helps Night Nurse carry Doctor Strange into a surgical room and reveals that Strange had interrupted a burglary in his Sanctum Sanctorum and was shot. He had been out running errands and had been unable to help stop the gunman. Before he can continue, Doctor Strange appears in his astral form and tells Night Nurse that if she didn’t hurry, he’d be dead before Wong could finish.

The scene shifts to a corporate office in the same city. A thief named Brigand is talking to his employer that is hidden in the shadows. Brigand tells him that the job is complete and claims to have killed Doctor Strange in the process. The man is skeptical, but Brigand shows him a gun that fires silver bullets. The employer says that since Strange is the most powerful magician alive, he should have stayed to make sure he had bled out. Brigand brushes him off and hands him what he was paid to steal. It’s a bottle containing a green liquid and an amulet. The man claims he’s going to study the liquid before throwing it down the drain.

The story goes back Night Nurse’s hospice. Doctor Strange, in his astral form, is hovering above his injured body. She asks him about his blood type. Wong tells her that he, just like all servants to the Sorcerer Supreme, is a universal donor. He hopes that his current condition wouldn’t prevent him from donating all the blood needed. Then she asks Strange if he’s had any major surgeries in the past, he talks about the accident that crushed his hands, and how it led him to finding the Ancient One.

As Night Nurse operates to remove the bullet from Strange’s chest, he gives her advice, but she tells him she knows what to do. He remarks about how, in wanting to be a superhero herself, she set up a hospice to treat the superhero community and sometimes wears her own cape, referring to her nurse cape. She rebukes him by referring to him “keeping” Wong like a slave. Strange tells her she should refer to Wong with respect since he thinks of him as a very versatile apprentice. Wong, groggy from the blood donation, tells Strange not to defend him since he had failed at his duties to protect him. The servant reveals to Night Nurse that the incident began when Strange had learned of his disease.

The story goes back to the day inside the Sanctum Sanctorum when Wong was helping to arrange Doctor Strange’s casefiles when he comes into the room. He had been looking for his Cloak of Levitation, since it likes to hide, and by accident had found Wong’s hidden bottle of Timelozar. Strange, being a former neural surgeon, knows the medication is a targeting agent for brain tumors. Wong reveals that he hoped to keep his condition a secret until his replacement could be found. It’s a very rare and aggressive form of brain cancer and according to every doctor he had seen, terminal within three months. Strange, still holding onto the bottle, refuses to accept the diagnosis and claims he can operate on him. Strange watches as his hands uncontrollably rattle the bottle and in a rage, tosses it away. Wong tells him not to be upset as he has accepted his fate, but Strange refuses and remembers something from one of his books of magic.

During a walk with Wong through a rough part of an Asian neighborhood, Strange uses one of his books for the directions to a specific location. It’s in a small store where Strange opens a portal to another dimension where he hopes to find the Otkid’s Elixir that will cure Wong’s disease. It’s during the casting of the spell that Wong protects a distracted Doctor Strange from some thugs before begging him not to go up against a god for the cure. Strange tells him that he had taken the Hippocratic Oath and was not about to go back on it. He then enters the portal and faces the god / spirit that has the cure.

Back in the present, Night Nurse has finished the surgery and Wong explains that Strange had been shot later. The apprentice tries to stand but becomes dizzy and falls to the ground. Night Nurse wants to treat him, but he demands that Strange be helped instead.

She asks why they didn't use the cure. Still in his astral form, Doctor Strange said he was unwilling to try it out on Wong before having it tested and sent a sample to a trusted friend. It’s then that he returns to his body and wakes from the operation. He continues the answer by revealing that the elixir was found to not only be able to cure Wong’s cancer but every form of disease.

Doctor Strange – The Oath – Chapter 2

Story by Brian K. Vaughan, Art by Marcus Martin, Colors by Javier Rodriguez, and Letters by Willie Schubert. Assistant Editors – Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson, Editor – Tom Brevoort, Editor in Chief – Joe Quesada, and Publisher – Dan Buckley, with acknowledgment to the works of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

The Eye of Agamotto, worn by Doctor Strange, speaks at the beginning of this issue. The Eye recalls what happened in the previous issue before the story continues. Brigand’s employer is seen in a high-tech laboratory. He finds out that the elixir can cure every form of cancer and arranges an emergency meeting with a group of people called the Overlords.

At Night Nurse’s hospice, Doctor Strange is trying to leave, and she tells him that he’s too weak to move. He flashes back to the incident inside the Sanctum Sanctorum. He was studying the elixir when he’s interrupted by Brigand. Strange is not sure how the thief managed to get inside, but begins casting spells to defend himself. Brigand uses the silver bullet to break through spells and strike him. He steals the elixir, leaving Strange for dead.

Back in the present, Doctor Strange puts on his clothes, Cloak of Levitation, and Eye of Agamotto, vowing that he was going to retrieve the elixir. He feels that it’s worth his life if it can cure cancer. Night Nurse relents only if she can go with him. Strange protests, but she counters by telling him that there would be no one to tend to his wounds should they reopen The Sorcerer relents but only if she tells him her real name. She jokingly refers to him as the Sherlock Holmes of paranormal detectives, and he begins calling her Doctor Watson.

As the trio walks through the fog into the Bronx, Doctor Strange takes them to the medical research lab of Dr. Jonas Hilt. He tells them that Dr. Hilt was the only one who stayed with him during his most arrogant times as a surgeon and through his recovery. Hilt was the one who introduced Strange to Dr. Nicodemus West who was the surgeon who had saved Strange from his injuries following the car accident, but had been unable to repair most of the damage in his hands. Dr. West has one unique facial feature in that he has one blue eye and one brown eye.

In the present, Doctor Strange says that he had placed the facility until a spell of protection to keep anyone from finding out about the cure until it could be proven to work. They enter Dr. Hilt’s lab only to find it destroyed and the sample gone. Hilt is found dead, shot by the same gun that had been used on Strange. It’s then that Wong almost feints.

Strange has had enough and uses the Eye to reveal that Brigand could not have done all of his crimes without magical help. Wong believes the sorcerer was Baron Mordo, since the man had supposedly died of terminal cancer, a side-effect of years of using dark magic. It’s while the trio is riding on a New York City train that Stephen takes them to their next destination.

Night Nurse is shocked that he wants them to jump into the Harlem River from the moving train. It’s only after they jump that Strange reveals the spot in the river that is actually an illusion that hides the safehouse for Brigand. Landing in a hallway, they come to a door that protected by a magic symbol. Night Nurse lends a hand by helping to pick the lock. The room is filled with Stark Security Droids that were stolen from the former Avengers (comics) mansion. Doctor Strange and Wong successfully fight the robots until Brigand’s voice stops them. He’s holding Night Nurse hostage with his magical gun to her head.

Doctor Strange – The Oath – Chapter 3

Story by Brian K. Vaughan, Art by Marcus Martin, Colors by Javier Rodriguez, and Letters by Willie Schubert. Assistant Editors – Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson, Editor – Tom Brevoort, Editor in Chief – Joe Quesada, and Publisher – Dan Buckley with acknowledgment to the works of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

The Book of the Vishanti begins this issue. It recalls the events beginning with Wong’s diagnosis that ended up with Doctor Strange being shot. The book continues with the story up to the point that of Night Nurse being held hostage by Brigand. The issue then shows what happened to Dr. West after he left Doctor Strange’s hospital room after informing him that he had been unable to restore his hands. In the parking lot, West is met by Reginald Pavlish, a terminal cancer patient that Strange had refused to treat. He’s happy that he didn’t fix Strange’s hands. Dr. West assures him that he had tried everything, but Pavlish is glad that Strange’s career is over. The sick man says he refuses to die and is now looking for alternative treatments so he can live long enough to watch Strange suffer.

Back in the present, Strange is talking to Brigand. Night Nurse uses a reverse head head-butt on the thief, causing the thief to let her go. Just as she falls, Wong uses a piece of scrap metal to knock the gun out of his hand. Strange uses a spell to chain Brigand’s hands to the ceiling and feet to the floor. He uses another spell to make him go to sleep.

After checking on Night Nurse and starting to fall in love with her, he has Wong look after her as he begins to cast a spell. They watch as he disappears into a portal in the floor. Wong explains that he has gone to interrogate Brigand from within the thief’s mind using a form of telepathy.

Wong nearly feints and she begs to take him home, but he assures her he just needs his medication. She has some in her hospice, but Wong asks for a generic drug. She informs him there are no generic versions of Timelozar since Timely Pharmaceuticals has a patent on it, and asks if Strange could use magic to make more. Wong tells her that science can’t duplicate Doctor Strange’s spells, and his magic can’t recreate what science has already created.

Inside Brigand’s mind, Doctor Strange confronts all the magic that had been placed in the thief’s mind to protect him. It appears that there are hundreds of powerful dark spirits protecting him. Strange destroys the illusions and threatens to start destroying the real memories. Brigand relents and reveals an image of the man with one blue eye and one brown eye that’s helping him. Strange doesn’t recognize him as the same Dr. West who failed to repair his hands.

The story moves to Timely Pharmaceuticals, Dr. West’s employer. He demands to meet with the board members called the Overlords who appear in partial shadow. They ask if he destroyed the elixir, and West admits he wanted to study it first. The woman CEO asks if the liquid can be mass-produced. West says that it can’t be reverse engineered but with enough time, Doctor Strange could recreate it. A fat balding man board member tells him that the Sorcerer and anyone who knows of the elixir needed to be eliminated.

Dr. West scoffs at them, saying that it would be a tragedy should any sick person find out about the elixir. The CEO says that humanity has to obtain cures at a natural pace and the fat balding man adds that people can’t be given cures on silver platter. Dr. West holds up the amulet that contains the spell to the elixir and asks if they really mean that if a cure was found, they would lose their powerful lucrative jobs.

The CEO counters by saying that he wouldn’t have killed Dr. Hilt if he thought they were wrong. West explains that he didn’t mean for the older man to be killed. The fat balding man tells him to use magic to kill Strange. West denies he knows anything more than street magic, but the company had tracked him for a long time and knows his biggest secret. They know that some magic he used had gone bad and orders him to end the problem or summon something that could.

Inside Brigand’s hideout, Doctor Strange returns. He tells Night Nurse and Wong that it’s Dr. West that is using magic to protect Brigand. The nurse recognizes his name as someone who works for Timely Pharmaceuticals. Strange then remembers when he had met Dr. West, but nearly collapses from the strain of his recent wounds.

Night Nurse begs him and Wong to slow down before they kill themselves. Strange agrees and suggests they use the hospice for a place to rest. Before they leave he throws Brigand inside a portal. The spell will lock the thief in his own mind and trap him with a dark spirit that will torment him permanently for all of his crimes. Strange tells them that Dr. West had been so effective in covering up all the crimes that Brigand would never face any other type justice.

Over at Timely Pharmaceuticals, inside one of the rooms next to his office, Dr. West is using dark magic, feeling good after not having used magic for a long time. At the same time, Doctor Strange, Wong, and Night Nurse are walking back to the hospice. Wong understands why someone like West would steal the elixir, but thought that he was also one of the disciples of the Ancient One. Now that the culprit has been identified, Night Nurse offers to call in some favors from the superhero community so that they could rest and recover.

They are stopped by a raging fire that has consumed Night Nurse’s hospice. Strange recognizes that it was dark magic that created the flames. He points to a giant fire breathing, multi-tentacled dark spirit demon that is breathing fire onto the structure.

Doctor Strange – The Oath – Chapter 4

Story by Brian K. Vaughan, Art by Marcus Martin, Colors by Javier Rodriguez, and Letters by Willie Schubert. Assistant Editors – Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson, Editor – Tom Brevoort, Editor in Chief – Joe Quesada, and Publisher – Dan Buckley with acknowledgment to the works of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

The issue opens with two scraps of burning paper from Night Nurse’s hospice. The first page is from her hospital chart on Doctor Strange, the other is an announcement from Timely Pharmaceuticals. It’s news from Dr. West that for a limited time the company would give away free samples of Timelozar.

Doctor Strange tells them that the thing attacking the hospice is the Marrrakant Hellguard, an evil spirit that has killed every sorcerer that has gone up against it. He tells his friends to get as far away as possible while as he activates his costume. They watch as Strange begins to battle the Hellguard.

Wong tells Night Nurse to leave because he had taken an oath to protect the Sorcerer Supreme above everything else, and to do that, he had to go against Strange’s orders. The Hellguard strips Strange of the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto, causing him to fall to the ground. He watches as the evil spirit swallows both objects. Wong comes up behind him, begging to help. Strange tells him leave and watches as a tentacle grabs his servant, then Night Nurse.

The Sorcerer reveals that he has Brigand’s gun. Wong says that the gun had been under their protection until Brigand had used it during the theft. Strange’s hands shake, yet he manages to fire and the bullet does its job on the Hellguard, freeing his friends. He uses a spell to turn the weapon into fireflies as the Eye and Cloak find their way back to him. He tells his friends to go home, but Wong refuses to leave his master’s side and Night Nurse reminds him that they are both safer with him to which he reluctantly agrees.

Using the psychic trail of the energy the summoning used, Strange opens a portal to the summoning point. Dr. West watches as the trio walk through the portal into his room and uses a spell to imprison them. Doctor Strange sees the many magical artifacts in the room and demands to know how he knew how to cast such as spell.

Dr. West tells his story of how he tried to move on from the operation that had failed to repair Strange’s hands. After Strange disappeared, he watched as people the man could have helped deteriorated. Riddled with guilt, he began drinking. Determined to find a way to restore Strange’s hands, he learned that Strange had found the Ancient One.

He locates and speaks with the old sorcerer, asking for help. The Ancient One was skeptical of his intentions but senses that he could become another one of his disciples. Dr. West felt the Ancient One wasn’t 100% confident in Strange and decided to take on another candidate. He quickly grew bored of the teachings and left. In a nearby town, he used some magic to help a severely injured girl. Seeing how well she healed, Dr. West felt he could cure other patients.

Going to a bedridden Pavlish, Dr. West tried to use a spell that was meant to get his remaining healthy immune cells to attack his cancer. The botched spell backfires and Pavlish’s immune cells immediately attack every cell in his body causing them to explode. West didn’t know that Timely Pharmaceuticals had been watching his every move.

He was stopped on his way to turn himself into the police by the future woman CEO of Timely and the fat balding board member. They had him followed because he had been in a part of the world where they had been secretly trying an experimental medicine and watching for side-effects. They had heard about the increasing use of magic and wanted to make sure it wouldn’t affect their industry. They offered him a very lucrative deal with their company because they needed him to make sure users of “unnatural arts” were kept in check, and in return they would cover his mistake with Pavlish.

Wong’s disease takes a drastic turn causing him to collapse. Strange has had enough of listening to West’s confession and easily breaks the holding spell. He grabs West by the throat, demanding he hand over the elixir.

West explains that he has no idea of the elixir’s power. Strange says it was the reason why he had Dr. Hilt test it. West says that his own research found that the elixir is the cure to every disease known to man.

Strange is thrilled, but West wants to destroy it, fearing that no one dying of disease could leave the world destroyed by overpopulation. West attacks with a bolt of energy trying to explain that Strange’s intentions are genuine but misguided. Night Nurse screams that Wong has died. Strange looks to see the limp body of Wong in her arms.

Doctor Strange – The Oath – #5 / Finale

Story by Brian K. Vaughan, Art by Marcus Martin, Colors by Javier Rodriguez, and Letters by Willie Schubert. Assistant Editors – Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson, Editor – Tom Brevoort, Editor in Chief – Joe Quesada, and Publisher – Dan Buckley with acknowledgment to the works of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

The issue opens with an inter-office memo that Dr. West had created to be sent to the board members of Timely Pharmaceuticals. The note begins with how Strange became the Sorcerer Supreme and Dr. West had followed him. West admits that the Ancient One taught him the Dark Arts. He talks about Wong’s disease and how Strange obtained the Otkid’s Elixir to cure it. West believes the potion cure Wong and every form of disease. He claims there are too many reasons for him to list why it must be destroyed. He admits to sending Brigand to steal the liquid and Strange had been shot in the process. He reminds them of the extreme measures they used to silence Dr. Hilt, and now they have to eliminate Strange and anyone else that knows it. He saddened by what is to be done but feels that more than just Timely’s bottom line is at stake.

Strange refuses to believe Wong is dead. He tells Night Nurse that it’s probably the tumor creating too much pressure in his brain. She asks what she could do since Wong didn’t have a pulse.

Dr. West tries to apologize and offers up a crash cart to help. Strange is outraged that he would help revive Wong only to later kill him. He uses mystical handcuffs to keep West’s mouth shut and his hands immobilized. He refuses to believe the man had any motive other than money and tells him to pray to whomever he had sold his soul to that Wong lived.

Night Nurse asks if Strange could use his magic to create medical equipment. Because he can’t, they need to get Wong to a hospital. She says that he wouldn’t survive the trip. West uses magic to teleport out of the cuffs and into another room. Strange knows that West will destroy the elixir and return to kill them. Night Nurse promises to do what she can to keep Wong alive, but he would be in a permanent vegetative state if he survived. She realizes that nothing else can be done and Wong needs the elixir to survive.

The scene switches to a bathroom where Dr. West prepares to dump the elixir down the drain. Strange comes inside and tells him that if does, his own blood would follow. West promises that if he just left, he would let Night Nurse live. It’s then that Doctor Strange asks West why he had waited to destroy the elixir.

West admits that he was curious. After finding out its potential, he felt that as a potion, it would be a poison and people needed cures by natural means. Strange counters by asking if things like an artificial heart and CT scans were natural. Everything like the potion and scans are magical at first, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used. Strange feels that West is not just scared of the elixir’s healing potential, it would reveal that not all things considered magic are harmful and that Pavlish hadn’t been killed by magic, but by West’s incompetence as a sorcerer.

Strange tells West that he forgives him for not being able to save his hands and owns up to his own involvement in how they were destroyed. He knows that doctors and sorcerers make mistakes that they have to own up to. He can’t forgive West for not owning up to his mistake as a sorcerer and trying to blame others. Outraged, West admits that the Ancient One had told him that Strange would be a great force for good but would cause much suffering before he died. West teleports himself to the roof.

Strange follows and tells him that he can find him wherever he runs. Dr. West uses a spell that for three minutes will prevent both himself and Doctor Strange from using any form of magic. He then offers to take him on in a fistfight. Strange accepts and takes several blows from Dr. West before taking a deep breath. He stands up and informs West that Wong in many ways is his servant, then takes a fighting stance and reveals that in others Wong is his master.

Strange delivers several blows and admits that after he had left the Ancient One he had studied other disciplines including martial arts. West tries to get away from Strange only to fall over the edge of the roof, taking the elixir with him. The vial shatters as he falls to the ground and the liquid nearly empties out. Only a tiny drop remains on top a broken piece.

As Strange looks at it, Dr. West's astral projection appears as he had managed to send it just before he landed. He tells Strange that he has a choice to either use the last of it to save Wong or take the hours necessary to try and recreate it for others. Strange is torn but West reminds him of the Hippocratic Oath he had taken. West’s astral form fades as he wonders about his own fate in the afterlife as he asks Strange to think about which choice he could live with.

Wong wakes in his bedroom to the smiling faces of Doctor Strange and Night Nurse. She informs him that there is no trace of his cancer. The now healthy man is disheartened that Strange had used the final bits of the elixir to cure his disease when it could have helped so many people. Strange tells Wong that his life was worth the final bit since he had saved his life that night and would probably do so many times over. He then encourages him to rest.

Night Nurse drags Strange out of the room as she needs to change his bandages and clean the wound. While she’s treating him, Strange admits that he’s conflicted over the choice he had made. She assures him that as a doctor he can only do his best and leave the cures to the drug companies. He reminds her that no one at Timely would pay for their crimes.

Night Nurse shows the memo she had lifted from Dr. West’s office, the one that admitted to all of the crimes that he and the company had committed. While Strange had been tending to Wong, she had sent copies to various government agencies, as well as a certain lawyer friend of hers. Strange is so happy that he admits he’s sorry that her hospice had been destroyed and invites her to set up a new one inside his Sanctum Sanctorum. He feels it would offer better protection not only for her but for the people she treats. He realized that while he can’t save everyone, he wants to help people like her who help others. She accepts but wonders if he would get tired of her leaving her used scrubs all over the place. He gives his word by kissing her.