Marvel Studios recently announced Doctor Strange 2, a movie we knew was coming yet now have official confirmation of, with a title: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. What in the Sam Hill tarnation is the “Multiverse of Madness?”, you might ask. Well, director Scott Erickson has been hinting for years that the villain he wanted to use was none other than Nightmare, the first villain that Doctor Strange battled way back in his first ever comic book appearance.
That first appearance of Doctor Strange in the $.12 Strange Tales comic was nothing more than a backup story, a common practice of those times in titles such as Journey into Mystery and Tales to Astonish.
The blurb of that brief first appearance of Doctor Strange in Strange Tales #110 (1951) by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko read: “Dr. Strange helps a man who is having troubled sleep. The mage must encounter a dark force to aid the man.“
While revealing and enacting their worst fears from the darkest crevices of their minds, Nightmare has been shown capable of subduing demigods and Eternals, yet is actually capable of sustaining physical harm. In fact, under normal conditions, Nightmare cannot affect an individual who is awake. However, his images can continue to haunt a person long into their waking hours.
That dark force, of course, was Nightmare and as long as there are beings that dream, Nightmare will exist. A demon of sorts, Nightmare is able to capture a sleeping person’s astral form and bring it to his mad realm, where he torments them. The “embodiment” of nightmares, Nightmare haunts their dreams.
As evidence that it will be a treat for us to see him realized on the big screen, Nightmare appears as a slender, chalk-white man with wild green hair and a long, tattered cape.
Nightmare can summon his mount, a black demonic steed named Dreamstalker, when needed. Nightmare can also summon a number of beings in his realm such as succubi to do his bidding.
Speaking of succubi, this article has been a nightmare to write. Nightmare is simultaneously on the nose, yet also deeply horrifying and offensive. He is depicted as having two offspring in the comics: Daydream and Dreamqueen.
The previous is his daughter who was conceived by forcibly entering the mind of the Hulk’s late wife, Betty Ross Banner, raping her in her sleep. The latter the result of Nightmare raping a succubus. He is indeed the embodiment of nightmares.
Director Scott Derrickson is famed for his horror movies and, not only will the Scarlett Witch appear in the film, but Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is being billed as the first horror film in the MCU. A PG-13 horror film, but still.
So, now that you know the character of Nightmare – Doctor Strange’s first foe – a bit more, below is a quick synopsis of some of his more engaging comic book appearances.
Strange Tales (1951) #116 “Return to the Nightmare World “
Just a few issues after his Strange Taless #110 appearance, Doctor Strange now has a full length feature where he faces Nightmare, the master of the dream dimension!
Doctor Strange (1968) #170 “To Dream – Perchance to Die! “
Dr. Strange hears a disconcerting scream from the Ancient One’s chamber and investigates. Information he gathers leads him into the Ancient One’s mind where he must face the evil villain known as Nightmare.
Doctor Strange (1968) #180-182 “Eternity, Eternity!”
As he prepares for a New Year’s date with Clea, Dr. Strange awakens from a nightmare with a vague feeling of unease.
Doctor Strange (1974) #10 “Alone Against Eternity… “
In the Sanctum Sanctorum, Mordo stirs and in his dreams, Nightmare lurks. [Given the end-credits scene of Doctor Strange 1, this comic may provide a fascinating blueprint for the sequel.]
Doctor Strange (1974) #32 “The Dream Weaver! “
Doctor Strange tries to renew the protective spells around the Sanctum Santorum as his enemies close in.
Morbius: The Living Vampire (1992) #8-9 Nightmare took control of Morbius, the Living Vampire as a trap for Dr. Strange. When Strange came looking for Morbius, the trap worked and Nightmare took over Strange’s physical body. [With the announcement of a future Blade reboot, this storyline might be a way to introduce that character.]