A portal opens in the night sky, as Dr Stephen Strange, a.k.a. the aptly named Doctor Strange, emerges from it alongside a group of other mystics. He recalls the words of Captain America, instructing him to take the mystics back to Earth and see what they can do. Dr Strange decides that this is a rall order, and a broad one at that, but because Captain America gave the order, in the middle of the so-called “Infinity War”, he does as he is told. Arriving back on Earth, Strange thinks to himself ‘Hoggoth, we must look a weird crew - or at least we would - if everyone else on the entire Earth hadn’t been rendered totally immobile and probably insensate by Adam Warlock’s badder half, the Magus’. Strange decides that his group are every bit as weird as they look, and as the mystics gather themselves and check their surroundings, they find all the civilians in the area frozen in place, as they were going about their business.
Dr Strange thinks about his companions - Dr Druid, who at one time was a human test-pattern for Strange himself, and who has recently found a renewed sense of purpose, along with youth and restored hair. Agatha Harkness, formerly the most powerful witch in New Salem, she was also the governess of Reed Richards’s son, Franklin. The old woman is accompanied by her cat, Ebony. Strange turns to Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch, long-time Avenger, daughter of Magneto, and a mutant who has studied some sorcery under Agatha Harkness.
‘Wanda - where is Shaman?’ Dr Strange asks his ally. ‘He was right beside us when we all made the jump through the dimensional portal from Galactus’s ship, wasn’t he?’
Wanda replies that she hardly noticed, as she was so busy trying to get her mind around the scene she knew would greet them here. ‘But I don’t think anything could have fully prepared me - for seeing the world turned into a garden of inanimate statues!’ Wanda declares.
Dr Michael Twoyoungmen a.k.a. Shaman of Alpha Flight calls out from where he is examining some of the civilians. He reports that they don’t breathe, have no heartbeat, and that their skin gives under his touch no more than if it were marble. Dr Strange remarks that it is funny, for three of them have been medical men, yet in this situation, they might just as well be wandering through a museum. Addressing Druid by his given name, Anthony, Strange asks him what he is up to.
Druid is approaching a woman whose petrified body is on the road, looking in horror at a car that was approaching her. Druid points out that she could have been a half second from being run down when the Magus’s deep freeze occurred. ‘I know she’s only one of many, but I can’t leave her like this’ Druid declares. He explains that his magic is less spells than ritual, and explains that his heritage may allow him to tap into just enough innate power, but as he casts a mystic glow over the woman, nothing happens. ‘Celtic power works best in threes’ Druid points out. ‘Could a couple of you…?’ he asks the others. Shaman blows some dust onto the woman, ‘Perhaps I can persuade the spirits of life to reanimate her inert body… not quite. You said you needed three?’ Wanda turns to Agatha and asks her if she can help them. ‘I know so little magic - and my mutant hex power’s liable to do more harm than good’ Wanda explains.
Agatha replies that she will do what she can, but as she waves her hand in front of the woman, Agatha reports that it is as she feared, the woman’s mind is just as much “frozen” as her body. ‘Stephen? You’re Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. If you can’t provide our third part, no one can’ Druid points out.
Dr Strange stands before the woman, ‘Let the Eye of Agamotto now guide us to our goal…let the gaze of the all-seeing peer deep into her soul…’ Dr Strange chants. He begins to feel a strain, perhaps as great as any he has ever felt. But he won’t quit. He knows that Anthony Druid is a changed man, a caring man, and he won’t let him down, if he can help it. ‘Release this woman’s thoughts and frame from evil’s o’everweening might…that she may cast off deaths dark shroud, to walk forth into the light!’ Dr Strange chants.
Energy surges around the woman. ‘Dr Strange!’ Agatha gasps, and Dr Strange’s eyes suddenly meet the blankly staring orbs of the unmoving recipient of all their raging mystic energies - and he stops cold. ‘What’s wrong Stephen?’ Druid asks. Strange reports that probing the woman’s mind he could feel another presence, and if he went on, he knew he would kill her. ‘You must have sensed it too…some force is already helping her fight the evil that grips her!’ Strange tells his companions, before pointing to the sky, ‘Look!’ Strange tells the others. They all look to the sky, ‘Two moons! Identical to each other - heading toward each other!’ Wanda gasps as she sees the two moons converging. Strange declares that it is the Magus’s doing, while Agatha reports that she also senses a second, unseen Earth. ‘Nay, a duplicate of our entire universe - moving toward merger with ours’.
Agatha tells the others that when that merging is complete, there will be but one New York, one Earth one version of this universe, and in it, the Magus’s infernal doppelgangers will hold the upper hand, on his behalf. ‘Maybe so, but I’m still going to give helping that woman another try, on my own, this time. Who knows. I might get lucky’ Dr Druid calls out, before he notices something. ‘Look! Over there!’ he shouts. ‘That green-skinned humanoid - walking on thin air - what in the name of -?’ Wanda asks, while the green-skinned being, wearing a blue and purple costume, floating beneath the two moons tells the mystics that they may call him the Sleepwalker. Dr Strange informs Wanda that Sleepwalker is an alien visitor, maybe even an exile, on their world, but that is all the Orb of Agamotto has been able to reveal about him up until today.
‘Even that is more than you need to know! Do not -’ Sleepwalker begins, before Shaman casts a chant and sends a mystical energy bolt towards Sleepwalk. Wanda asks Miss Harkness if they should join Shaman in attacking the creature, but as she strokes her white cat, Ebony, Agatha replies that she doesn’t think so, as she can sense no evil in this “Sleepwalker”, though she does sense a swiftly rising animosity. Agatha adds that given his apparent power, this would make him a formidable opponent. ‘You dare raise your hand against me? That I cannot condone!’ Sleepwalker declares as he punches Shaman backwards. ‘Stop!’ calls out to Dr Strange as he rushes towards the quarrel. He puts up the Shield of the Seraphim between himself and Sleepwalker and tells Sleepwalk that he won’t find that as easy to pierce as Shaman’s defenses.
‘Ah yes - you are this astral plane’s Sorcerer Supreme. But then, I am not from this plane, so that hardly impresses me’ Sleepwalker replies. ‘Then suppose you tell me where you are from and why you are here?’ Dr Strange asks. ‘That is my secret, wizard!’ Sleepwalker replies as he lunges forward. ‘You look like one of Nightmare’s minions to me!’ Dr Strange calls out as he dodges the attack. ‘Nightmare? That shadow-skulking despoiler of the dreamscape?’ Sleepwalker replies. ‘Well, at least we’ve established that you know him’ Dr Strange remarks, before Sleepwalker exclaims ‘Know him - loath him - fought him!’ and tells Dr Strange that he resents his implication of any alliance between them. ‘Good!’ Dr Strange thinks to himself, pleased that he has managed to goad the alien into talking instead of fighting for a moment.
Dr Strange informs Sleepwalker that Nightmare is his enemy as well, before telling Sleepwalker that, if he doesn’t mind, he would like to show him something. Sleepwalker’s curiosity is aroused as Dr Strange’s amulet opens, and something pops out, immediately floating to rest on his forehead, becoming his third eye. Green energy pours from the eye as Dr Strange gazes at Sleepwalker, stating that the Eye of Agamotto shows him that Sleepwalker is telling the truth about his encounter with Nightmare. ‘You add insult to attempted injury - by considering for even an instant that I was lying?’ Sleepwalker retorts. ‘That was less for my benefit than for Shaman’s’ Dr Strange explains as Shaman and the others gather nearby.
Strange informs Sleepwalker that he and Agatha Harkness suspected the truth, but he wanted their colleagues to be certain. Wanda announces that she is convinced, and turns to Druid, ‘If you are, Anthony?’ she adds. Druid confesses that Sleepwalker’s appearance confused him as well as Shaman. ‘But - seeing the whole human race turned into statuary -’ he begins, before Sleepwalker reveals ‘Not just your species, mage, but all through this dimension. He adds that he can comprehend why they were distressed to the point of imprudence, as his own host upon this world has likewise been rendered in an immobile dreamlike state. ‘But I choose to say no more about him’ Sleepwalker adds.
Agatha Harness tells Sleepwalker that if he fells as benign to this reality as she suspects, then perhaps he can help them. She explains that a conduit is needed for the mental emanations of one called Professor X, if this universe is to be saved. ‘A powerful conduit, such as you might well prove…’ Her voice trails off as Dr Strange declares: ‘Do you not understand, Agatha? He’s already acting in concert with Professor X! Sleepwalker is the presence we felt earlier!’
‘This is true’ Sleepwalker confirms, and Agatha turns away from them. Sleepwalker explains that he noticed they were the only moving humans, so he came to investigate. He reveals that he had already opened his mind to Charles Xavier an hour ago. Through the mutant’s mind, and though the green-skinned alien flows the indomitable mental energy of Earth’s mightiest psychics - Jean Grey, Psylocke and Moondragon. The three women are psychically connected to Xavier, and thus, Sleepwalker, with the purpose of freeing the Earth’s billions from the mind-enslavement of the Magus.
Wanda suddenly notices that Sleepwalker is standing still. Agatha supposes that now that Sleepwalker knows they pose no threat, he is no doubt re-focussing his attentions to Xavier’s task. She adds that with Sleepwalker’s help, perhaps the brains of Earth’s masses can be stirred to telepathic resistance against Warlock’s darker self. Dr Strange points out that even if they succeed, they are only fighting a delaying action. He remarks that the real battle to the finish will be fought in the world of the Magus, and that they must soon leave to take part in it. Dr Strange asks his companions if they will forgive him if he takes a moment to check on Clea. He flies towards his mansion, and sees, frozen almost on the steps of his mansion, Wong and his fiancée Imei Chang. Strange notes their shopping bags and supposes that it looks like they were returning from doing some shopping for their approaching wedding when the Magus struck.
Dr Strange tells Dr Druid that he can understand his actions better know, as it is one thing to see people you don’t know in peril for their lives, but it is something else when it is someone you care about. ‘But you are this plane’s Sorcerer Supreme. You must watch over all your unsuspecting flock’ Agatha tells Dr Strange, who replies that he has not forgotten that, only, sometimes, the burden gets a bit heavier than usual. Dr Druid approaches the front door and assures Strange that Clea and Rintrah are all right. ‘In case you forgot your key, here’s the spare you told me to hand onto. We can -’ Dr Druid calls out as he is about to open the door, but Wanda suddenly tells him to wait, as there are still protective spells around the mansion which will knock him for a loop. Druid smiles at Wanda and points out that they haven’t zapped him so far, and suggests that they could be on the fritz, thanks to the Magus.
Druid announces that he will take his chances, but Strange tells him to stop, and reminds him that he had a certain ritual to recite before using that key. ‘Clearly in his well-concealed anxiety for your loved ones, he has forgotten that’ Agatha remarks, before pointing out that the door is opening for Druid, and as Druid steps in, he calls out ‘See, Wanda? Stephen? I told you there was nothing to worry about’, before he calls out to Clea and Rintrah. But, Wanda quickly tells Druid that there is something in the shadows, and an instant later, Druid and Wanda are knocked backwards by a horde of demons that burst forth from the shadows. ‘Are those…yours, Dr Strange?’ Shaman enquires. ‘Bite your tongue’ Strange tells the Alphan, before admitting that those minor demons look vaguely familiar somehow. Strange points out that they seem to be mute, not too big, probably not too powerful.
‘But I’ll say this - there sure are a lot of them!’ Strange exclaims as more demons burst forth from the windows at the upper levels of the mansion. Strange supposes that they are more of the Magus’s shock troop and casts mystical energies towards some of them, while telling his companions that if they don’t stop them, the demons are liable to harm some of the immobiles. Strange needn’t have played cheerleader, as Shaman leaps into action, the aged hero already proving that his power to harness the very elements against his foes is very much intact. He casts forth elemental energies, keeping the horde that attacks him at bay. At the bottom of another pile of deviltry is one who doesn’t stay down for long, and although she is surrounded and set upon by the lesser demons, the Scarlet Witch gathers herself and casts the demons back with a burst of energy. ‘On your feet, Druid!’ Wanda declares as Druid struggles to get up. Wanda tells him that her hex power doesn’t affect those things, so she had to use while little magic Miss Harkness has taught her. ‘Looks like you know more than you think’ Druid replies, as the demons are kept at bay.
‘Agatha - Miss Harkness - you just stay out of harm’s way!’ Dr Strange calls out to Agatha, assuring her that the demons won’t get through their human gauntlet, as he keeps them at bay with a mystical shield. ‘Really, my dear Doctor…I’m not completely helpless’ the old woman responds as she raises her arms, Ebony leaps from them, and energy bursts forth, keeping a number of the demons back. Dr Strange realizes has been caught being condescending again - not one of his more endearing traits. Wong and Imei’s motionless bodies are near Agatha, while Dr Strange turns his attention upwards, deciding that, all the same, they demons do keep coming. The demons leap from the upper levels and land around Dr Strange, and it makes him wonder whether that Sa’arpool in the basement didn’t spring a dimensional leak.
But as he observes the demons, Dr Strange decides that these are not the N’Garai, or even the undying ones, but just minor demons, hobgoblins and poltergeists, with delusions of grandeur. But, no matter how many of them there are, they are nothing. Dr Strange casts forth a huge charge of energy, not even bothering to waste any rhymed spells on them. He can knock them over like bowling pins without calling in big guns like the Vishanti. But Dr Strange doesn’t want to denigrate the others, though the others gather behind him as he casts up a mystical barrier, which the demons slam into. Strange knows that his companions have all got mystic specialities of their own, and the world is likely to need them all before they put the Magus away. But, this kind of demonic house-cleaning is Strange’s area, more than theirs, and he estimates that one more spell should do for his mansion what Hercules claims he did for the Augean Stables. He gets set to “let ‘er rip”.
But, that is all Strange remembers, as he is suddenly knocked back. Wanda rushes over too her ally, as someone with a blank-like face, and the same costume as Dr Strange appears at the mansion doorway. ‘Stand away from that fallen impostor, woman! So commands Dr Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts!’ the Dr Strange double calls out, while Wanda tugs at Strange, telling him to wake up. ‘The man who just zapped you - is you!’ she gasps. ‘At least, he looks just like you do did, back when you went for more of a super hero look’ Wanda explains, adding ‘And Heaven help us…he even seems to think he is you!’ Wanda alerts Strange, who looks up, shocked. The doppelganger strides forward, demons scurrying about behind him, ‘I don’t just “believe”, girl. I am!’ he boasts.
‘Sure. I get it. He’s one of the doppelgangers the Magus created to help in his takeover!’ Druid calls out. ‘Whoever you are, man - whatever you may be - keep your demon lings away from us - and everybody else!’ Dr Strange commands Dr Strange instructs his double, adding that he may even deem himself the “Master of Mystic Arts” as he once was, but now, he is Sorcerer Supreme. ‘You’ve given your orders. Now I shall give mine. TAKE THEM ALL!’ the doppelganger orders his demons, who leap forward towards the mystics. ‘Isn’t there any end to these things?’ Wanda calls out as she throws one behind herself. ‘I hate to tell you, Wanda - but the answer, for all practical purposes, may be no!’ Strange replies as he readies mystical energies, while Shaman and Druid take on some demons themselves.
‘Magic or muscle - we can’t keep this up forever!’ Druid points out as he attacks his foes with physical strength. Wanda remarks that if they retreat, the demons will spread into the world at large. ‘And I shudder to think what they might do to the helpless populace’, before a demon kicks her in the stomach. ‘If only we could reach the doppelganger!’ Shaman declares, realizing that he is the key with which they can re-lock the door. ‘Leave that bogus Dr Strange to me, Shaman’ Strange instructs his ally. He sees his brave comrades overwhelmed his sheer weight of necromantic numbers, he hurls encouragement in lieu of his bolts of bedevilment. ‘I’ll show him that the difference between “Master of the Mystic Arts” and “Sorcerer Supreme” is a lot more than just something to stick on a marquee’.
‘Speaking of “stick” pretender -’ the doppelganger calls out as he stands before Wong and Imei, holding a large sword. ‘No!’ Strange utters. ‘That’s precisely what I intend to do to faithful Wong and this luscious lady with him!’ the doppelganger exclaims. Strange knows that the scimitar which has materialized in his blue-faced double’s hand is the spitting image of the Sword of the Ultimate Shadow, a talisman that he thought protected by spells in his Sanctum Sanctorum. Dr Strange swoops down with all the speed his cloak of levitation can give him, and throws up a hasty seraphimic shield between them - but it nearly isn’t enough. As Strange’s body is between the doppelganger and Wong and his fiancée, the shiled stops the mystic blade from cutting though him, or his companions, like a knife through butter. But the magical pain is transferred through the shield into his innermost being - and his consciousness cowers dazed in some dark corner of his mind, suddenly afraid of the light. Demons scamper about on the ground, as Shaman, Agatha Harkness, Dr Druid and the Scarlet Witch lie motionless at the feet the of the Dr Strange doppelganger, who holds the real Dr Strange up in the air, and shouts ‘Dr Strange is finished! Long live Dr Strange!’