In 2014, Hydra infiltrated SHIELD in the MCU – and now in 2022, Doctor Strange’s own version puts an even darker spin on the famous twist.
Warning: SPOILERS for Strange #6
Marvel’s Doctor Strange is now at the center of a massive twist that was last seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and the magical nature of the character makes it considerably darker. The Sorcerer Supreme has many enemies in both the MCU and comics, and usually his powers allow them to be vanquished quite easily. But in Strange #6Doctor Strange is dead – and the origin of his new enemies, the Blasphemy Cartel, is finally revealed in a moment fans of Captain America: The Winter Soldier will find quiet familiar.
In current comics continuity, Doctor Strange is dead, and has surprisingly remained dead for the better part of a year. In his absence, his ex-wife Clea has asserted herself as the new Sorcerer Supreme and magical protector of the Earth (despite Doctor Doom’s protests that he would be more suited for the role). Clea is not human and has far more innate magical abilities than Strange, and destroys her enemies in seconds with creative and horrifying spells; the majority of her power and time is devoted to seeking a method to resurrect Doctor Strange from the dead.
In Strange #6, written by Jed MacKay with art by Lee Garbet, Wong investigates the Blasphemy Cartel, the new group of enemies who seem to have their hearts set on murdering Clea and destroying the Sanctum Sanctorum. Despite Wong’s encyclopedic knowledge of magic users and organizations on Earth and other dimensions, he has never heard of the group before, and in his own words, “I should know more about them than I do.” He meets with the mutant Jean Grey, who uses her powers to reveal someone has placed a mental block on Wong’s memories regarding the Blasphemy Cartel. The search ultimately leads Wong to Pandora Peters, the director of WAND. “The Blasphemy Cartel ice WAND,” she reveals “and they want me dead too.”
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Zola reveals that Hydra infiltrated SHIELD over a period of decades, and the organization is split between American loyalists and Hydra agents; a small civil war eventually takes place during the third act of the film. Here, the fact that WAND – a comparatively smaller organization – has been infiltrated by the Blasphemy Cartel in short order reveals just how influential the Cartel truly is. Additionally, Doctor Strange’s death prevents any easy answers regarding the infiltration of WAND or the precise nature of any magical enchantments that took part in the takeover.
Since this is a Wong-centric issue, it is not known how Clea will take the news that WAND and the Blasphemy Cartel are one and the same. In every fight between the two, Clea has defeated the magic-tech villains easily and killed or seriously injured every attacker. But the Blasphemy Cartel has other enemies besides Clea, and Doctor Strange’s new enemies may eliminate other magic users before her; the fact that they were once a legitimate organization makes them all the more terrifying.