WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for The Death of Doctor Strange #3, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
The recent murder of Doctor Strange has plunged the Marvel Universe into chaos, leaving those closest to him with little time to mourn his death. With the Sorcerer Supreme gone, the magical barrier that shielded the Earth from hostile magical forces has collapsed, and many powerful mystic beings have come to the planet hoping to escape the jaws of the mysterious Peregrine Child. Among these new arrivals is the powerful sorceress Clea, Doctor Strange’s ex-wife.
While assisting in the investigation of Doctor Strange’s death in Death of Doctor Strange #3 (by Jed MacKay, Lee Garbett, Antonio Fabela, and VC’s Cory Petit), Clea shares a tender moment with an “echo” of her late ex-husband that sheds light on the lingering feelings that each of them held for each other. Although their respective duties ultimately tore them apart, Strange and Clea’s love for one another lingered long after their marriage ended, making his untimely death all the more tragic.
Debuting in Strange Tales #126’s “The Domain of the Dread Dormammu!” (by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Sam Rosen), Clea was introduced as the daughter of Orini, the rightful ruler of the Dark Dimension and a loyal follower of Dormammu. When Doctor Strange first enters the Dark Dimension to face Dormammu in a duel that will decide the fate of the Earth, Clea observed his journey to the Dread One’s throne room from a distance, feeling an immediate attraction to him that grew deeper after she witnessed his courage and magical prowess in action.
Fearing Dormammu will kill Strange, Clea attempted to convince Strange to abandon his quest, only to be taken hostage by the Dread One after he learned of her “betrayal.” After Strange defeated Dormammu, he forced the tyrannical demon to call off his invasion of earth and spare Clea’s life.
Clea continued to help Doctor Strange fend of Dormammu’s attempts to conquer Earth, and their attraction to each other soon blossomed into genuine love. After Strange managed to seal Dormammu in a pocket dimension, the couple soon found themselves battling Umar, Dormammu’s sister, who had come to claim his throne. Despite learning that Umar was her mother, Clea helped Strange defeat her and came to live with him in the Sanctum Santorum, studying magic and becoming a skilled sorceress in her own right.
After Clea becomes the ruler of the Dark Dimension, she and Strange are married in Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #3 (by Peter Gillis, Richard Case, Randy Emberlin, Bob Sharen, and Janice Chiang).
Unfortunately, Doctor Strange and Clea’s life together would be filled with problems, as their duties as the Sorcerer Supreme and the ruler of the Dark Dimension forced the couple to spend a lot of time apart. Eventually, Dormammu was able to reclaim control of the Dark Dimension, forcing Clea to return to Earth. During their time together, it became clear to both Clea and Strange that their love for each other had waned, and Clea would eventually return to lead a rebellion against Dormammu, leaving their relationship on uncertain grounds. After this development, Strange would join the Defenders and go on to have relationships with several other women. When the Defenders went to Clea to help remove a curse that had been placed on the team in Fearless Defenders #9 (by Cullen Bunn, William Sliney, Veronica Gandini, and Clayton Cowles), Clea revealed that she was aware of Strange’s affairs and formally requested a divorce.
After their marriage ended, Clea and Doctor Strange would continue to work together to protect the Earth from Dormammu, Umar, and other magical threats. Although their relationship was officially over, it was clear that Strange and Clea still had feelings for each other. While attempting to prevent Mephisto from destroying the Multiverse, the two would briefly rekindle their romance, but Strange was forced to erase Clea’s memory of him to stop Mephisto in Doctor Strange #17 (by Mark Waid, Barry Kitson, Scot Kobilish, Brian Reber, and Petit).
When Dr. Strange dies in Death of Doctor Strange #1 (by MacKay, Garbett, Fabela, and Petit), Clea flees to Earth to escape the Peregrin Child’s servants, the Three Mothers. While speaking to a “temporal remnant” Strange created as a failsafe in the event of his death, Clea admits that she still loved the “real” Strange, revealing that her memories of him had returned after his death. In response, the remnant states that the living Strange must have been a fool to leave her.
Doctor Strange’s relationship with Clea may have ended on poor terms, but the love the two had for each other is evident in Clea’s distraught reaction to Strange’s passing. Sadly, even this brief reconciliation will end once the “echo” of Strange fades away within a week, bringing a tragic end to one of the Marvel Universe’s most loving relationships.
from Ultimate Comic Blog