As the Sinister War begins, Doctor Strange goes to extraordinary lengths in an attempt to save the soul of his fellow Avenger, Spider-Man.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Sinister War #1, by Nick Spencer, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy, John Dell, Andy Owens, Brian Reber and VC’s Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Peter Parker’s life has been more complicated than ever in recent years, and all of his trials and tribulations are starting to come to a head in Sinister War. The events leading up to this moment have been going on far longer than even Spider-Man realizes, and the nefarious forces at play go all the way to Mephisto, Marvel’s demonic Helllord. Thankfully, Peter has a powerful ally fighting for him from the shadows in Doctor Strange, and he’s facing off with Mephisto himself to try to save Spider-Man’s soul.
Nearly every turn that Peter Parker’s life has taken recently seems to have been for the worst. While Peter joins Mary Jane for one of her many red carpet appearances, his enemies are far less relaxed as they prepare for an attack that could rip Spider-Man to shreds. Thankfully for Peter Parker, Doctor Strange is right alongside the devil trying to set things right. The threat posed by the demonic Kindred, as well as the villain’s continuous targeting of Peter Parker and his loved ones has sent Doctor Strange to the Hotel Inferno to investigate. Although the Sorcerer Supreme doesn’t know exactly what started all of this, he knows that it began with the devil taking something from the web-headed Avenger.
Following the events of Civil War, Spider-Man’s secret identity had been revealed to the world, and that put his loved ones in the crosshairs of every villain with an axe to grind against the wall-crawler. It didn’t take long for Wilson Fisk to send someone to kill Peter Parker in his home, but when the shooter hit Aunt May instead it sent the hero down a dark path in a desperate attempt to save her. With even Doctor Strange unable to rectify the situation, Peter made a fateful deal with the devil. And 2008’s Amazing Spider-Man #545 by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada saw Mephisto trade Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage for Aunt May’s life, in the process removing all knowledge of Spider-Man’s true identity from the minds of the public while also setting the stage for what is happening now.
Doctor Strange may not have been able to save Aunt May’s life back then, but he isn’t going to give up on saving Peter’s soul now. Doctor Strange has looked into Peter’s soul and has seen his suffering and loss, even though he still does not understand what could possibly cause Peter to strike up a bargain with Mephisto. As such, Strange has no idea of how high the stakes are, but that isn’t going to stop him from doing what he can, even if it means making his own sort of deal with the devil.
Mephisto reminds Strange that he doesn’t take anything from anyone that isn’t offered willingly before also reminding the hero of his penchant for gambling. Among the many game tables and slot machines of the Hotel Inferno, the devil and the doctor settle in at a craps table for what is sure to be a none too friendly game of chance.
The odds are surely not in the Sorcerer Supreme’s favor, but with so much to lose already on the line, it’s hard to imagine he won’t be willing to spin the wheel at least once.
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