Clea Reading Guide

clea reading guide

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Welcome to the Clea reading guide!

Clea Strange has grown into one of the most powerful magicians in Marvel Comics. With A-list actor Charlize Theron bringing Clea to life in the MCU as Multiverse of Madness heads to Disney+ next week, now is the perfect time to catch up on Clea’s comics! While she has always been an important part of Doctor Strange’s history, she hasn’t always had an active role, which makes it tricky to follow her story over time. So gathered below are the highlights of her crusades to help you prepare for her next appearance in the MCU. Enjoy!

Quick start:

  • Strange Tales (1951) #126-127, 130-155
  • Doctor Strange (1968) #171-183
    • Marvel Premiere (1972) #12
    • Defenders (1972) #39-49, 53, 57
  • Doctor Strange (1974) #6-9, 35, 50-51, 58, 69-74
  • Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme (1988) #1-5, 12-16, 21-43, 48-50, 67, 73-78, 83; Annual #2, 4
    • Fearless Defenders (2013) #7-12
  • Doctor Strange Annual (2016) #1
  • Doctor Strange (2015) #389
  • Doctor Strange (2018) #13-17
  • Death of Doctor Strange (2021) #1-5 
  • Strange (2022) #1-5

Currently Sorcerer Supreme and Ruler of the Dark Dimension, Clea is a child of the Faltine, ancient energy beings from another dimension. After Dormmamu banished her mother Umar, she was raised by her father Prince Orini, who was the heir to the Dark Dimension. Clea grew up as a servant of Dormammu, not knowing that Dormammu was actually her own uncle!

After Doctor Strange helped her escape from Dormammu, she followed him to Earth, becoming his student, partner, and wife. Following the death of Doctor Strange in the comics this past year, she is now the Sorcerer Supreme of both Earth and the Dark Dimension, and she is on a mission to bring Strange back to life!

If you want more about Clea’s character biography, check out Sarah’s Clea deep dive here. Happy reading!

 


 

Strange Tales & The Defenders (1960s-1970s)

Clea was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1964 in Strange Tales #126, which is the same issue that introduced her evil uncle Dormammu. After she follows Doctor Strange to Earth, she is depowered and left to study in the Sanctum Sanctorum. Her early adventures often featured being kidnapped and Strange coming to the rescue or being jealous that Strange might love someone else. But eventually, by the end of Doctor Strange (1974), she overthrows both of her parents and takes her place as the ruler of the Dark Dimension!

Cosmic Circus writer and resident Clea expert Sarah adds: “Fun fact!! We didn’t know Clea’s name straight away. She was just the silver-haired girl. We didn’t know her name for almost 2 years!!” Shame indeed.

  • Strange Tales (1951) #126-127, 130-155 [B Stories]
    • #126 is the first appearance of both Clea and Dormammu!
    • #126-127, #130-151 feature Dormammu, uncle of Clea!
    • #147, 150 features the Book of the Vishanti!
    • #150-155 feature Umar, the mother of Clea and sister of Dormammu!
  • Marvel Premiere (1972) #5-13
    • #9-10 feature Shuma Gorath!
    • In #12, Strange begins training Clea
  • Defenders (1972) #5-8, 21-25, 39-49, 53, 57, 70-85, 89, 92-103, 119; Giant-Size #1
    • In #39, Clea officially joins the team
  • Doctor Strange (1974) #1-54, 58, 67-74, Annual #1
    • #6-9, 35, 50-51, 58, 69-74 feature Dormammu & Umar!
    • #6-9 introduce Clea’s family history
    • #32-33 feature the Book of the Vishanti!
    • In #46, Clea and Strange help prevent a type of incursion, similar to their mission at the end of Multiverse of Madness. Also features the Nexus of All Realities.
    • #67-74 Clea overthrows her mother Umar and becomes ruler of the Dark Dimension
    • #72 features more of Clea’s backstory
  • Ghost Rider (1973) #29-31
    • Features Dormammu!
  • Marvel Team-Up (1972) #76-77, 80-81
  • Doctor Strange: Nightmare (1979) (novel)

Extra watching:

  • Doctor Strange (1978)
  • Clea is referred to as “Clea Lake,” played by Anne-Marie Martin/Eddie Benton

Extra reading:

  • Marvel Feature (1971) #2
    • Features Dormammu!
  • Marvel Two-in-One (1974) #6
  • Marvel Team-Up (1972) #35
  • Howard the Duck (1976) #8
  • Marvel Treasury Edition (1974) #13
  • Avengers Annual (1967) #8

 


 

Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme (1980s-2000s)

Now ruler of the Dark Dimension, Clea wears the Flames of Regency, the fiery crown typically associated with Dormammu. She becomes a major player during the Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme series, which was one of the biggest influences on the lore of Multiverse of Madness. In fact, the series begins almost immediately with the ‘marriage’ of Clea and Strange. But when Dormammu returns in full force, she has to leave Earth to lead the rebellion against him. She would stay there for over a decade, eventually earning her way to becoming the Sorcerer Supreme of the Dark Dimension.

  • Strange Tales (1987) #1-2 [B Stories]
    • Features Rintrah!
    • Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #20 [D Story]
  • Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme (1988) #2-5, 12-16, 21-26, 29-43, 48-50, 67, 73-75, 78, 83; Annual #2, 4
    • This entire run features Clea with Rintrah, the Darkhold, and the Book of the Vishanti
    • Clea and Strange get married in #3
    • #1-2, 7, 21-24, 42-43, 50, 55, 73-75, Annual #2 feature Dormammu!
    • #21-24, 48 feature Umar! Clea uses reign over the Dark Dimension
    • #34-36 feature Wanda Maximoff!
    • #50 Clea regains power in the Dark Dimension
  • Midnight Sons Unlimited (1993) #6
  • The Order (2002) #3-6
  • Captain America/Nick Fury: The Otherworld War (2001) #1
    • Features Dormammu
  • Witches (2004) #1-4

 

Video games:

  • Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006)

Extra watching:

  • X-Men (1992) S4 E8 (background cameo)

Extra reading:

  • Man-Thing (1979) #11
  • Marvel Graphic Novel (1981) #1
  • Marvel Team-Up (1972) #111
  • Marvel Fanfare (1982) #5, 8
  • Contest of Champions (1982) #1, 3
  • West Coast Avengers (1985) #20
  • Stan Lee Meets Doctor Strange (2006) #1
  • Hulk (2008) #10

 


 

Dark Avengers, Defenders, & Sorcerer Supreme (2010s-2020s)

Over time, Clea became fed up with Strange seeing other women while she was away, so she eventually asked him for a divorce. They remained friends nonetheless, and the epilogue of Damnation in Doctor Strange (2015) #389 is a touching tribute to the close bond they shared. After Strange died this past year, she took the name “Clea Strange” as a tribute to his memory. This is possibly the first time 616 Clea has had a surname in the comics. She also took his mantle of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, making her one of the most powerful characters in Marvel history as the Sorcerer Supreme of both Earth and the Dark Dimension.

  • The Mystic Hands of Dr. Strange (2010) #1
  • Dark Avengers (2009) #184-189
    • Alternate universe Clea (minor differences)
  • Doctor Strange Annual (2016) #1
    • Continues the divorce storyline
  • Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme (2016) #5, 12
    • #5 features Shuma Gorath!
  • Doctor Strange (2015) #25, 385, 389
    • Ties into Doctor Strange: Damnationuma
    • #388-389 feature Dormammu & Shuma Gorath!
  • Doctor Strange (2018) #10-17
    • Doctor Strange & Clea vs. Galactus!
    • Alternate universe Clea (minor differences)
    • Also features Umar & Dormammu
    • Leads into The Death of Doctor Strange

  • Death of Doctor Strange (2021) #1-5 
    • After the death of Stephen Strange, Clea becomes the Sorcerer Supreme of both Earth and the Dark Dimension!
  • Strange (2022) #1-5
    • Stars Clea as a double Sorcerer Supreme as she tries to bring Stephen Strange back from the dead!
  • Strange Tales: Clea, Wong & America Infinity Comic (2022) #1

 

Video games:

  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (2011)
  • Marvel Heroes (2013)
  • Marvel Future Fight (2015)
  • LEGO Marvel’s Avengers (2016)
  • LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 (2017)
  • Marvel Duel (2020)
  • Marvel Future Revolution (2021)

Extra watching:

  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
  • Clea played by Charlize Theron

Extra reading:

  • Girl Comics (2010) #3
  • Asgardians of the Galaxy (2018) #9
  • Thor (2020) #24

 


 

Clea in the Multiverse

Of course, she couldn’t be a Doctor Strange friend without her own multiversal shenanigans! So here are the most iconic stories featuring Clea’s multiversal variants. Each one has its own wild, wonderful universe! 

  • What If Dr. Strange Had Never Become Master of the Mystic Arts?
    • What If? (1977) #40
  • What The–?!
    • Cleanex: What The–?! (1988) #2, 4, 19
    • Klea: What The–?! (1988) #11
  • What If Tony Stark Became the Sorcerer Supreme?
    • What If…? (1989) #113
  • Earth X
    • Earth X (1999) #4-8, 12
    • Universe X (2000) #1, 10-12
    • Paradise X: Xen (2002) #1
    • Paradise X (2002) #4
  • Ultimate Universe
    • Ultimate Marvel Team Up (2001) #12-13
    • Ultimate Spider-Man (2000) #70
  • Marvel Knights Millennial Visions (2001)
    • Universe based on the Shaft films. Doctor Strange has a kung fu butler.

  • 1602 Universe
    • Marvel 1602 (2003) #1-8
    • Spider-Man 1602 (2009) #1
  • Action-packed alternate origin story
    • Strange (2004) #1-6
  • King-Size Spider-Man Summer Special (2008) #1
    • Enchantress creates a mind-control shampoo
  • Age of Sentry
    • The Age of the Sentry (2008) #5
  • Marvel Apes vs. Marvel Zombies
    • Marvel Apes: Prime Eight Special (2009) #1-3
    • Marvel Zombies: Evil Evolution (2010) #1
    • Clea is referred to as “Cleook”
    • The Prime Eight is an Illuminati parody
  • Secret Wars: Warzones
    • M.O.D.O.K. Assassin (2015) #1-5
  • Doctor Strange: The Best Defense (2018) #1
    • Clea appears in a projection
    • Part 3 of the Best Defense series

Clea Smallwood

 


And that’s the story of Clea so far! She and Strange have one of the longest on/off relationships in Marvel comics, so seeing their love story unfold is going to be an exciting wild ride in the future of the MCU.

Have you ever read any of these comics? What are you reading now? Let me know on Twitter @vinwriteswords and remember to follow the site @MyCosmicCircus for more about comics clues about upcoming Marvel projects!

Of course, be sure to check out our other reading guides, as well as our Women on the Midnight Suns showcase!

 

All images courtesy of Marvel Comics.

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Reviews, reading guides, and crazy theories. Currently obsessing over Moon Knight, Blade, and Doctor Strange. Find me on Twitter @vinwriteswords!
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