Magic comes with a high cost – as Doctor Strange discovered when he learned he needs to eat poisonous food to fuel his sorcery.
Being Doctor Strange seems like a lot of fun. As the Sorcerer Supreme, Stephen Strange has access to seemingly limitless powers. He can use his Cloak of Levitation to fly, separate his astral body from his physical form, and cast spells that rewrite the laws of physics. Plus, he gets to live in the Sanctum Sanctorum, a magical funhouse that contains an endless supply of mystical artifacts and weapons.
But performing magic comes with a high cost – as Strange learned when he discovered the magical energies he manipulated had irreparably altered his body to the point where his digestive system couldn’t consume regular food. Instead, Strange’s diet gained some bizarre new requirements – as one of his guests discovered to her extreme disgust.
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In Jason Aaron’s 2015 Doctor Strange series, Doctor Strange gets a visit from Zelma, a young librarian afflicted with some magical ailments that cause demonic mouths to grow out of her head. Unfortunately, Strange – who’s been exerting himself dealing with multiple magical emergencies – isn’t in the best of shape to help her. Realizing the Sorcerer Supreme needs nourishment, Strange’s assistant/martial arts master/chef Wong rushes to the kitchen to prepare a meal for the Master of the Mystic Arts.
Zelma ends up wandering into the kitchen, but is horrified when she learns that most of the items in Strange’s refrigerator are still alive. Wong quickly gathers the ingredients he needs – which resemble alien eyeballs, toads, rats, and various writhing tentacles – and tosses them into a pan. As he spends the next few minutes alternately cooking and killing the creatures, Wong politely asks Zelma if she plans on staying for lunch. While Zelma is decidedly not hungry, she later gets a chance to see Strange guzzle down his meal, although the doctor warns her the sight of him eating is not something people can easily unsee.
As Strange ravenously consumes the still-squirming meal (which, according to him, “tastes like leprosy”), Wong explains to Zelma that after years of spellcasting, Strange’s digestive system has been so radically altered by magic that this alien food is the only thing he can consume. Wong admits the food would kill a normal man – and will, in fact, eventually kill Strange – yet, in the meantime, it provides sufficient fuel for his magic.
Later issues would show that Wong may have not been telling the whole truth, as Strange was shown drinking cocktails at a wizard’s bar and even eating an apple (which he later mutated into a weapon for battle). However, Strange did confess that he could no longer eat pizza, which he considers a huge tragedy. The fact that Strange also drinks at a wizard’s bar is cause for concern as the bartender may need to season Strange’s cocktails with something stronger than alcohol for them to agree with the sorcerer’s unusual palette.
While the job of Sorcerer Supreme comes with some definite perks, the downsides can be pretty ghastly. Doctor Strange may continue to present himself as a dashing figure, but those who get to know him well know his problems don’t end when he finishes saving the day. Especially if they stay for dinner.
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