Since time immemorial, there has always been a singular champion, a Master of the Mystic Arts whose skill and awareness rises above all others. This champion, sworn to defend their home realm against all opposition, has many names on many dimensions, but on Earth, they are called the Sorcerer Supreme (or Sorceress Supreme, for female champions).
A Sorcerer Supreme of Earth must fulfill three criteria before they can be mantled, as decreed by the Vishanti, the immortal gods of magic who originally created the position on Earth.
- A candidate must be exceptionally gifted in the use of the Mystic Arts.
- A candidate must pass the Trials of the Mystic Window, a secret ritual known only to the Sorcerers Supreme themselves. What this trial is remains a mystery to this day.
- A Sorcerer Supreme must vow to the Vishanti: Hoggoth, Oshtur, and Agamotto, to preserve and protect life on Earth from mystic threats from other worlds and dimensions.
Failure to uphold the vow once taken will cause a Sorcerer Supreme to be stripped of their mantle and declared to be a 'Fallen', cursed by the Vishanti never again to touch their power.
There have been many objects created or touched by the power of the Vishanti, but three objects in particular will only make themselves available to the Sorcerer Supreme, and can be used by no one else witout the Sorcerer Supreme's blessing:
- Eye of Agamotto: A small golden brooch, usually worn either as a medallion or the clasp of a cloak (such as Doctor Strange's Cloak of Levitation), in the shape of a closed eye. This artifact is one of the most powerful divinatory objects in the world. When a Sorcerer Supreme channels their power through it, the Eye opens and shines like a beacon. Its light can dispel illusions, pierce deception and uncertainty, and reveal nearly any truth sought by the wearer.
- Book of the Vishanti: A massive spellbook, as tall as a human torso and twice as thick. It contains records of every spell ever written by a Sorcerer Supreme, from Agamotto all the way down to the present day. It also contains written records of the lives of all previous Sorcerers Supreme. The grimoire seems to write itself, rather than be written in. Its clasp has no lock, and will flip open easily, but only to the hand fo a Sorcerer Supreme, or someone given explicit permission by one.
- Mystic Window: A huge window, currently installed in the attic of Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village, New York. This window serves as both a viewing portal and a method of transportation, not only through the physical wprld, but across dimensions as well. To perform the Trial of the Mystic Window, which is necessary to attain the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme, a candidate must stand in the Window's shadow wearing the Eye of Agamotto, at a time of day when daylight or moonlight streams through at its brightest. What happens then is known only to those who have undergone the Trial.
Sorcerers Supreme of Earth-JV
- Agamotto - The first mortal mage, also known as Sorcerer Supreme Zero. He was the original template for what would later become the "Sorcerer Supreme" as the child of two immortal parents, Hoggoth the Outer God and Bright Lady Oshtur, the living personification of Earth's magic. He forged the Eye and Orb of Agamotto, created the mystic city of Kamar-Taj, the three Sanctums Sanctorum, and the Sorcerers' Circle. He is the being who bridged the gap between Earth's sorcerers and the Powers that Be, ancient beings from beyond dimensions. In his quest to expand the mystical knowledge of future Sorcerers, Agamotto forged pacts with beings like Ikonn, Watoomb, Morpheus, Raggadorr, Munnipor, Cinnabarr, the Faltine, and even darker forces like Cytorrak, Umar, and Marduk Kurios. After the death of his mortal form, he became one with the deities who gave birth to him, forming the Vishanti, the wellspring of Earth's magic.
- Zhered-Na - The First Sorcerer Supreme, the original successor to Agamotto's mystic legacy as Sorcerer Supreme. A native Atlantean before the continent's fall, she foresaw the cataclysm and attempted to warn her people, but was met with scorn and derision. Despite the fear and hatred with which she was met, Zhered-Na persevered, and enchanted the kingdom and all of its people; when the continent finally sank beneath the waves, its culture survived, and its people became water-breathers, gifted with all the powers they required to survive, even flourish, in the darkest depths of the ocean. The continent fell, but the kingdom survived, even prospered, thanks to the intervention of Zhered-Na. She was the original writer of the Sacred Scrolls of Zhered-Na, which would later be rewritten into the Tome of Zhered-Na. The Tome, and by extension the Scrolls, are considered by many to be one of the Three Volumes of Ultimate Arcana, alongside the Book of Vishanti and the Darkhold.
- Shamhat Saraswati - The Second Sorceress Supreme, believed to be an incarnation of the Hindu bird goddess Saraswati. Her people, the Akah Ma'at, were an ancient civilization of bird-folk living in the Hyborean era, and their warrior-clerics, the Seraphim, were the progenitors of the winged subset of mutants by the same name that still exist to this day. Due to the longevity of the Akah Ma'at, she held the title of Sorceress Supreme for far longer than any other, defending the world against mystic and arcane threats for over four thousand years (~15,000 BC to ~11,000 BC). Among her many legendary accomplishments, Saraswati was the first Sorceress Supreme to face Slorioth the Omnivorous, the N'Garai, and the dread Outer God Shuma-Gorath, all of whom plague humanity to this day. She was a contemporary of Conan the Barbarian, and as such aided him on many of his quests. In one of these quests, she fought and imprisoned the dark sorcerer Kulan Gath, who would return to battle Sorcerers Supreme further down the line. Unfortunately, all her good work would ultimately be undermined when civil war broke out within the Akah Ma'at between her people, the Seraphim, and a rebellious splinter faction called the Asura. This war, waged with sword and spell alike, grew so violent and threatening that Saraswati was eventually forced to summon the Vishanti Oshtur herself to banish all the Akah Ma'at, including herself, to two dimensions, one for the Seraphim and one for the Asura.
- Semiramis - The Third Sorceress Supreme, and the First of the Fallen. Although she possessed the requisite power of the Sorcerers Supreme and lived up to the responsibility of protecting Earth from dimensional assaults, Semiramis was forever changed when the descendants of Atlantis, long thought to have been lost, resurfaced and waged war with the surface world. Despite Semiramis being a descendant of the ancient Atlanteans, her attempts to broker peace were met with violence and destruction -- the then-King of Atlantis ordered a strike against her home village, burning it to the ground and taking special care to murder Semiramis' entire family. Devastated, Semramis allowed herself to be approached by Zarathos, a demon of vengeance, and Mephisto, the great tempter, who worked away at her will until she became corrupt with power, slaughtering the Atlantean invaders and wandering the world, eventually becoming as cruel and malicious as they as her efforts to resurrect her lost kin gave way to a thirst for conquest. Taking the name "Salomé" for herself, she eventually became worshipped as a goddess in the Assyrian city of Nimrud, serving as Sorceress Supreme while still dominating those too weak to stand up to her, until she was eventually ousted from power and banished by her successor, Aisha of Balobedu, along with a circle of other sorcerers and sorceresses from other nations. However, she had successfully trained an apprentice to carry on her legacy -- the mutant life-energy vampire known as Selene.
- Aisha of Balobedu - Daughter of a Rain Qeen of Balobedu and Izulu-Ilanghabi, or "Sky-Flame", a Faltine who came to Earth in mortal form. She earned the title of the Fourth Sorceress Supreme after finally ending Salomé's reign of terror. Most of her time possessing the mantle was spent repairing the damage done to the name, as she and her line were blessed by Oshtur herself with a powerful affinity for white magic, and a communion with the elements of nature that would carry on through her descendants. It was she who had the prophecy of the Thirteenth Sorcerer Supreme being the final one in the line, though its meaning was unclear back then.
- Ashake - The Fifth Sorceress Supreme, daughter of Aisha, and an Egyptian high priestess of Ma'at (Oshtur). She was the first Supreme to experiment with time magic, and wrote the Arcane Annals of Ashake, which is a compendium of all the time magic that exists in the world -- as well as a detailed primer on all of the dangers inherent in said magic. She was said to be the first custodian of the Infinity Gem of Time, but no one living has ever been able to confirm this. More concretely proven is her confrontation with Luna Regina Caesar, the last Empress of Rome, and her invcation of the goddess Artemis to pass judgment on the corrupt queen -- and, inadvertently, to bring about the final fall of the Roman Empire. She and Aisha are ancestors of the N'Dare royal line of Kenya, a line that eventually culminates with Ororo Munroe, the X-Man known as Storm.
- Merlin - Sixth Sorcerer Supreme, the final wizard of Atlantis, and the first male to hold the title since Agamotto. Born Myraddin of Ruta, he used his power to protect the final piece of Old Atlantis from sinking into the sea, thousands of years after the time of Zhered-Na, with the Ironbound Book of Skelos. It was he who summoned the Starstone from the heavens to make the Ebony Blade, created thirteen mystic gemstones named for the thirteen Sorcerers Supreme, imprisoned the Elder God Chthon beneath Wundagore, and banishing the dark demigod Tyrannus to Subterranea. Merlin enchanted a suit of armor for Sir Percival of Scandia, which in conjunction with the Ebony Blade, created the first Black Knight. At some point of time, Merlin left with the Black Knight to oppose Morgan le Fey. He is widely considered the greatest sorcerer in history, thanks in large part to his considerable study and creation of spells that invoke the forces, not just of the Vishanti, but of the Principalities. Often referred to as The Great Ambassador of Magic, Merlin struck pacts with not only Gaea and the Vishanti, but other, even more arcane and esoteric beings and forces. Sadly he failed to protect the kingdom of Camelot from itself. In the wake of the fall of Camelot, Merlin created the Amulet of Right and the Sword of Might in atonement. Both of these sacred artifacts are key components to joining the interdimensional Captain Britain Corps. Before vanishing into the mists of time and history with his wife, Nimue, Merlin bequeathed much of his mystic knowledge to their daughter Roma, who became something akin to a Sorceress Supreme in her own right: the Omniversal Guardian, divine protector of all Crosstime.
- Anton Mordrid - A descendant of King Arthur Pendragon (albeit by way of Mordred the Betrayer), Anton Mordrid practiced white magic and healing in relative obscurity, seking nothing more than to erase the stain of his family's dishonor through good and humble works. When he learned the fate of his ancestor Mordred -- that the usurper had come into contact with the Outer God Cthon and became Mordred the Mystic -- Anton took up the mantle of the Seventh Sorcerer Supreme to battle him, his foul master, and all threats to the world. Though he would ultimately perish at the hands of his corrupted progenitor, Mordrid's final act was to fling the Eye of Agamotto through a temporal warp, sending it hundreds of years into the future and keeping Mordred from claiming the power of the Sorcerer Supreme for himself.
- Yao - The Eye of Agamotto disappeared from the world from the 12th until the 15th century, when it appeared again in Kamar-Taj, in the hands of a young villager named Yao. Unskilled in magic but possessed of considerable courage and compassion, Yao sought a teacher to instruct him in the use of the Eye. He found Kaluu, a supremely knowledgeable but ultimately corrupt sorcerer, who taught him his arts in exchange for Yao's service, using the eye in pursuit of Kaluu's goals. Together, the two unlocked the secret of supreme longevity, and the ability to draw mystic might from other dimensions, rather than merely invoking individual entities. Unfortunately, Kaluu betrayed Yao by secretly weaving his magics through the Eye to mentally enslave all of Kamar-Taj to his will, taking over the city and stealing the Eye from its rightful holder. In defiance, Yao fought back, leading a rebellion of the mages he could free, but ultimately it took drawing power from the Dark Dimension of the Dread Dormammu merely to battle Kaluu. Eventually, Kaluu damned himself, opening a portal to the Crimson Dimension of Cytorrak, through which the Avatar of Destruction reached in and siezed the dark sorcerer. Yao recovered the Eye, becoming the Eighth Sorcerer Supreme, and decided to train all of Kamar-Taj in magic, transforming the hidden city from a peaceful, but vulnerable utopia to the seat of magical training, and a bastion of defense against otherdimensional invaders for all the world. Eventually, he became too old to carry the title of Sorcerer Supreme, and passed the mantle on to his successor, before meeting Eternity, the living embodiment of the universe itself, and allowing his soul to be placed into an unbreakable mirror by the entity, there to forever guide and teach future Sorcerers Supreme as "the Ancient One".
- Hiram Shaw - A resident of Salem, Massachusetts during the 1700s, Hiram Shaw was not only the Ninth Sorcerer Supreme, but a priest as well, the reverend of the small town. His mission from God, he felt, was to protect the innocent people from the dangers of black magic...unfortunately, he began to view that as being ANY magic other than his own. He carried out a holy crusade against the mystic arts, killing both Native American shamans and settlers with even the barest magical talent, nearly wiping out all magic in the New World in the name of his religious convictions. Eventually, Shaw went mad, believing his power not to be magical, but divine in nature. Eventually, he was declared the third Fallen, and was slain, not by any mystic means, but by the townspeople of Salem, after he used his magic openly against marauders who tried to lay waste the town.
- Kushala - An Apache sorceress from the 1870s, who as a teenager was the sole survivor of her village's massacre by the US army. In grief and rage, she invoked her Great Spirit for justice, but was instead possessed by Zarathos, the Demon of Vengeance whom had previoisly worked his will on the world through Salome, the First Fallen. Kashala resisted his corrupting influence through the power of her own will and became the Demon Rider, a progenitor to the Ghost Riders who manifest periodically in the modern era. She quested across the world in search of a cure, battling evil magic as she went, until she earned the title of the Tenth Sorceress Supreme almost by accident. Little is known of what happened to her - she simply vanished, after serving only twenty years in the role.
- Margali Szardos - A Romani born in Paris around the same time as Kushala, Margali became the founder of the Winding Way of sorcery in the early 1900s. Margali Szardos' path of magic waxes and wanes in power with the phases of the moon, though the specifics vary from mage to mage. As "She Who Walks The Winding Road," Margali's past was a mystery until she battled the demon sorcerer Belasco and his demonic hordes of Limbo, the first Earth sorcerer to do so. This protracted battle eventually won her the title of the Eleventh Sorceress Supreme, and she unlocked the Ancient One's secret of longevity, remaining at the peak of youth and vitality for well over a century, even as she raised her daughter Jimaine, her son Stefan, and her foster children Kurt Wagner and Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. Eventually, however, the ebb and flow of the Winding Way began to wear on her, and she sought a greater, more permanent power boost. Tragically, Margali became the fourth Fallen when she sought to claim the arcane might of the dimension of Limbo -- at the time, ruled by the demon-sorerer Belasco -- and in so doing, slew every sorcerer and sorceress whose cycle in the Winding Way put their power above hers. The power of Sorceress Supreme deserted her for her betrayal, rescinded by Oshtur herself, who decreed that from then on future Sorcerers and Sorceresses Supreme would have to exemplify the ways of the Vishanti at all times, not simply when Earth was threatened by outside forces, or they would lose claim to the title forevermore.
- Nina Minoru - Called "Nina the Conjurer", she and her brother Juao were half-Japanese, half-Brazilian, part of two worlds but belonging to neither. They fled to America together, where Juao immersed himself in the study of the arcane while Nina worked to suppoet them both, using her scant magical powers to alter her appearance to better fit in. Eventually, Juao found hints of something called the Word of God, a spell supposedly crafted by Sir Isaac Newton, with the power to rewrite reality itself. They travelled the world and eventually met the man, still young and vital even after three hundred years. Unfortunately, it was revealed by his son Leonid that the sorcerer "Newton" was in truth a rejected candidate for Sorcerer Supreme from the era of Yao's tenure, who had assumed the famed physicist's identity in an attempt to gain respect among what he believed to be his intellectual peers -- all of whom he eventually brutally murdered, in a manner that echoed the later mass slaughter perpetuated by Margali Szardos, the Fourth of the Fallen. Juao did not believe what they had found, instead choosing to side with Newton against Nina and Leonid. In the ensuing duel, Nina resorted to spells she had learnt from Juao but never trusted herself to cast, revealing herself possessed of greater sorcerous might than even her brother. She conjured a pair of enchanted firearms during the fight, simply called "Nina's Guns", whose bullets would slay any magical creature or sorcerer, but not harm a living being possessed of no magic. Eventually, Juao lay dead at her feet and Newton had escaped, but Nina's entire being blazed with arcane energy unlike anything seen before, and Leonid presented her with the Eye of Agamotto, revealing himself to be an intermediary appointed by the Vishanti to deliver the accoutrements of Sorcerer Supreme to the bearer of the title -- which Nina had proven herself to be. She accepted and became the Twelfth Sorceress Supreme, going on to fight alongside the Allied Powers in World War II as one of Captain America's "Sentinels of Liberty", thus being the first Sorcerer Supreme to serve openly as what the modern age would be called a "superhero". In addition to her service make artifacts that would become legendary even in the short time they existed, like her family birthright, the Staff of One, created from the blood of the Minoru line and bequeathed to her daughter, Tina, and then to Tina's daughter Nico in the 21st century.
- Doctor Stephen Strange - The thirteenth successor to Agamotto, and supposedly the final Sorcerer Supreme, as prophesied by Aisha of Balobedu. Stephen, unlike his predecessors, had no interest in magic from a young age, displayed no particular predilection or promise for it growing up. Raised in the modern world in modern times, he became a neurosurgeon, brilliant, wealthy, and dextrous, but extemely callous and arrogant. When a car crash shattered his hands beyond all hope of repair, he exhausted every ounce of his wealth to seek a cure, before finally finding his way to Kamar-Taj. There, under the tutelage of the Ancient One and the mystics of the city, Strange became a talented, powerful sorcerer, becoming Master of one of Agamotto's Sanctums Sanctorum mere days after discovering his sorcery. In this position, he began defending not only New York, but the whole world against Dormammu, Mephisto, and Shuma-Gorath, as well as countless other threats from countless other dimensions. Eventually, he would earn the title of Earth's Thirteenth Sorcerer Supreme, and become a focal point for the powers of all the previous ones (who had not Fallen).
Other Sorcerers Supreme
In other timelines, on other planets, and in other dimensions, these are the equivalents, or in some cases the successors, to the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. Each of these alternate realms possesses their own criteria for mantling, though all are similar to Earth's in their requirements.
- Illyana Rasputin - Sorceress Supreme of Limbo. On Earth, Illyana Rasputin is a young mutant with the power to open "stepping-discs" that teleport people instantly from one place and time to another. However, as children, she and her brother Piotr were kidnapped by the 14th-century sorcerer Belasco, and during her years growing up in his otherworldly realm of Limbo, Illyana became not only the dimension's queen, but its Sorceress Supreme as well. Despite serving as the Circle of the Supreme's unofficial 14th member, Illyana does not hold any of the Gems of the Supreme, as she represents Limbo's magic, not Earth's.
- Magique - Sorceress Supreme of the Shi'Ar homeworld of Chandilar.
- Billy Kaplan - Sorcerer Supreme of the "Days of Future Past" timeline. In his time, Sentinels have overrun the country, imprisoning and exterminating mutants and enslaving baseline humans. The various superhero groups of the time -- the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Defenders, and others -- rose up to fight them, but were all beaten by the ever-adapting, ever-evolving hunter-killer robots. Magic was the only unknown quantity that the Sentinels could not factor; knowing this, Stephen Strange trained Billy -- at the time the Young Avenger known as "Wiccan" -- in sorcery as the last line of defense against them. Unfortunately, this backfired, as Billy is not only a sorcerer but a mutant, and the Sentinels were able to track his signature to Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village, and Stephen died protecting Billy from the machines. With his mentor dead, Wiccan became Sorcerer Supreme of his time, and eventually joined the X-Men in their final stand against their robotic oppressors.
- Loki Laufeyson - Sorcerer Supreme of Asgard.
- Clea - Sorceress Supreme of the Dark Dimension of Dormammu.
- Roma - Omniversal Guardian, Sorceress Supreme of the Panoptichron.
- Victor von Doom - The Dr. Doom of the Joint Venture universe is also Sorcerer Supreme of Battleworld, an empty world created by the Beyonder, and then populated with cross-dimensional versions of Earth's greatest heroes and villains. As none of the abductees had more mystic might than Dr. Doom, Doom was given the title and primary access to Battleworld's not inconsiderable magic. In return, when the Beyonder ultimately tired of the game and sent the heroes and villains home, Doom retained a link to that world, which he protects, and its magic, which he exploits.
- Spiral - Sorceress Supreme of Mojoworld.
- Victor Strange - Stephen's brother, Sorcerer Supreme of a parallel world where he lived and Stephen died as a boy.
- Warren Traveller - Sorcerer Supreme of an inverted-morality "Axis" world where villains (individuals who were heroes in the main Joint Venture Universe) claimed power. His world was destroyed by Galactus, and he escaped into a dimensional nexus.