Doctor Strange Was Completely Outclassed By One Underrated Marvel Hero

Few can outclass Doctor Strange, but one surprising hero, Man-Thing, was able to take the Sorcerer Supreme down to the wire. In a two-part crossover event in 1980’s Man-Thing #4 and Doctor Strange #41, Strange’s long-time nemesis, Baron Mordo, attempted to use Man-Thing as a pawn, throwing him at Doctor Strange as a distraction–and the creature proved more than a match, countering Strange’s spells at every turn and using physical prowess to dominate the Sorcerer Supreme.

Long regarded as “Marvel’s Swamp Thing” due to similarities in origin and gimmick between the two, Man-Thing has proven to be a compelling character in his own right. While researching a potential replacement for the Super Soldier Serum, scientist Ted Sallis was attacked by agents of A.I.M. Injecting himself with the Serum, Sallis fled his attackers; however, his car crashed into the Everglades, and a unique synthesis between the Serum and the magical forces in the swamp turned him into Man-Thing. Unlike Swamp Thing, Man-Thing cannot communicate verbally, instead silently shambling through the Everglades; Man-Thing is also an empath, and certain emotions, namely fear, can provoke strong reactions in the creature. As the guardian of the Nexus of All Realities, Man-Thing is an immensely powerful being, and his power was on display during his first encounter with Doctor Strange.

In Man-Thing #4 and Doctor Strange #41 by Chris Claremont, Gene Colan, Bob Wiacek, and Don Perlin Baron Mordo enacts his final revenge on Doctor Strange, a plan that involves sacrificing individuals with magical powers. Strange is drawn to the Everglades, where he and his associates are ambushed by Man-Thing, who has come under Mordo’s control. Doctor Strange attempts to restrain the beast with the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak–but Man-Thing tears right through them. Strange is amazed, wondering how the creature could have countered the spell so fast. The two continue to fight, with Man-Thing getting the upper hand; Strange then lets loose a fire spell, surmising it would destroy the creature. Instead, Man-Thing is barely phased, and he is able to overpower Strange. As Mordo’s scheme draws closer to fruition, Jennifer Kale, a sorceress and confidant of Man-Thing, persuades the creature that he has been duped by Mordo. Man-Thing turns on Baron Mordo, and helps Strange defeat him. As the dust settles, Doctor Strange attempts to magically turn Man-Thing back into a human–but once again, his magic has no effect on the creature. The story was written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Gene Colan, Bob Wiacek and Don Perlin.

As Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange is one of the planet’s most powerful beings, and has turned back mystical menaces of all types–yet all of his power is useless against Man-Thing. Baron Mordo saw the creature’s raw power and strength, and co-opted it for his own ends. Mordo’s strategy proved an effective one, as Man-Thing was able to instinctively counter every spell Doctor Strange threw at him. Mordo was using Man-Thing to wear Strange down and eventually kill him–and it almost worked. Perhaps the saddest aspect of the story is that Strange was unable to give Man-Thing his one wish: be human again. The story remained mum on just exactly how Man-Thing was able to resist Strange’s magic, but the Sorcerer Supreme speculated it may have been due to the mixture of science and sorcery that created the creature.

Man-Thing is one of Marvel’s most enigmatic heroes, an empathic monster created by science and magic. He is also one of Marvel’s most powerful, as shown when he vastly outclassed Doctor Strange.

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