wandering spirits

Membership: Lord Vall (possibly deceased), all others unidentified

Purpose: To suffer punishment that the Forgotten believed that they deserved for their inaction

Affiliations: Merlin of Camelot

Enemies: The Forgotten;
   (after turning) The Conjuror (Nina), Demon Rider (Kushala), Doctor Strange, Sir Isaac Newton, the Mindful One, Wiccan (Billy Kaplan), Yao

Base of Operations: A castle (possibly Camelot) in mid or late 6th century Britain

First Appearance: Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#2 (January, 2017)

Powers/Abilities: While within their own bodies, these spirits were simply souls. None of these people were known to have possessed any unusual powers or abilities.

   Once removed from their physical bodies, these souls became wandering spirits with ethereal bodies. Composed of the bioenergy known as ectoplasm, these bodies were usually intangible but could manifest as solid forms that might have been capable of interacting with the physical world. In their intangible state, these spirits would not have been restricted by walls (unless they were enchanted) and thus could roam widely. One would expect that they would have been able to fly (or at least float) through the air but this was not observed.

   These disembodied spirits were initially friendly but seemed reluctant to interact with living people since they seemed to hide within shadows. Later, after they had "rotted" and turned, the spirits were aggressive creatures who savagely attacked the Sorcerers Supreme.

   When they were in the forest, these spirits appeared (to those who could perceive them) as pairs of green eyes peering out from dark shadows. However, when they were later encountered in Merlin's library, the spirits manifested themselves in bodies that were seemingly composed of solid darkness. These bodies were human-sized and roughly humanoid but were clearly non-human. The creatures (now) had wide mouths that were filled with large triangular teeth. Aside from their glowing green eyes, those pale white teeth were the only parts of their bodies that were not jet black. Their fingers and toes were now claw-like and ended in sharp points. Their heads featured eyes set above their mouths but were otherwise distorted from the human shape, with jaws that could gape open more widely than most humans. The edges of their bodies were indistinct, as if they were constantly surrounded by a haze, suggesting that maybe the bodies were actually made of solidified smoke.

   It's not known if the savage spirits in the library could have actually hurt the Sorcerers. The fact that they could be held back by a magic shield and destroyed by black beams of mystical energy indicates that they were vulnerable to energy but does not necessarily mean that they were capable of affecting the physical world, either by lifting objects or slicing open flesh. On the other hand, the spirits may have been capable of inflicting some form of non-physical damage on those they attacked, like drawing life energy from the bodies of their victims. For that reason, it was probably wise to not allow them to even touch the bodies of those whom they were attacking.

   No information has been provided about how the Sorcerers Supreme were able to return these wandering spirits (those that survived) to their physical bodies. It seems likely that the presence of the dawn sunlight aided whatever spells were used by the Sorcerers.

Limitations: Souls need to stay within their bodies in order to remain healthy. Once removed from their bodies, the wandering spirits would begin to "rot" and would eventually turn malevolent.

   As beings composed of life energy, these wandering spirits could only be held back by shields that were likewise made of energy (mystical or otherwise). It's possible that, if life energy cannot be either created or destroyed, then these spirits could not be killed as such. However, if their energy could be dispersed sufficiently, then the patterns that made up their consciousnesses would be disrupted so much that they would no longer really be "alive" in any sense.


(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#4 (fb) - BTS) - A number of magicians found magic that they didn't understand and as a result were somehow drawn through time to the book known as the Word of God in early 6th century Britain.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#8 (fb) - BTS) - The Words that the mystics who followed of the Word of God tome spoke were written unto their bones without their knowledge. This left a mark carved into the bones that bound them to the Author of the Word of God, a mark that would enable the Author to control them. Also, an effect of using the alien technology of the Words would eventually drive them mad.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#4 (fb) - BTS) - Merlin of Camelot became aware of this power that no mortal could understand and how it would corrupt anyone who had been drawn to it. Merlin decided to do what he had to do to protect Earth from these corrupted mystics.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#4 (fb) - BTS) - Merlin hunted down almost all of the corrupted magicians and imprisoned them in a cell in the Hollow Out of Time where magic would not work.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#3 (fb) - BTS) - The people of "Camelot" lived happy lives, blissfully ignorant of what Merlin had done to secure their safety. However, the corrupted magicians who rotted in the underground prison knew of them and came to blame them for not having done anything to help the magicians who felt that they had been wrongfully imprisoned.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#1 (fb) - BTS) - Some years later, apparently after the death of King Arthur and the fall of Camelot, The Forgotten, a future version of the collective entity that the imprisoned magicians eventually became, arrived in the past from the early 21st century and began to collect a number of magical relics.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#3 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, the people who lived in the castle were attacked by the Forgotten who blamed them for doing nothing while they (the magicians currently trapped in the Hollow Out of Time) rotted in prison. The Forgotten used unspecified magic to remove the souls of the castle's inhabitants from their bodies. Deprived of their souls, the bodies remained alive but in an inert and non-responsive state.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#3 (fb) - BTS) - Once separated from their bodies, these souls began to "rot." As disembodied spirits, they also began to wander and many made their way to the forest surrounding the castle.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#2) - Lurking in the forest, the spirits hid in shadows where they could only be perceived as pairs of glowing green eyes. As the Sorcerers Supreme traveled along a path through the forest to Merlin's castle, Doctor Strange and Wiccan (among others) sensed the presence of these beings. When Wiccan stated that the protection of the still-mortal Yao wasn't his current concern, Strange confirmed that he could sense "them" as well and asked Wiccan if he thought they were friends or foes? Wiccan replied that, given their current luck, they should stay on the path and not find out.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#3) - Demon Rider broke through the Nordic binding spell that Merlin had placed on a door and the Sorcerers Supreme were then able to enter the castle. As Demon Rider mentioned that Merlin had been trying to protect the people of the castle, the group came upon a courtyard filled with the insensate bodies of those very people. As the Sorcerers examined the bodies, Doctor Strange and Wiccan observed that the people were still alive but that there was "something off" about them, and Demon Rider stated that their souls were wandering. Although some of the group wanted to help the people, Yao urged them to find weapons first so that they could stay alive so that they would be able to help the people.

   As the Sorcerers descended towards Merlin's keep/library, Demon Rider stated that she assumed that Strange, even with his weak magic, had detected the creatures that had been following them since the forest. When Strange confirmed that he had sensed them and asked her if she knew what they were, Demon Rider revealed that they were the spirits of the living people that they had found above in the castle. Strange then asked if they were friendl,y and Demon Rider replied that they were but that they were "rotting" and would soon turn.

   The Sorcerers entered Merlin's library and began to search it, with some looking for whatever the Forgotten had been seeking and others looking for magic that they could use against the Forgotten. However, since the warding that had protected it had been removed, the spirits were now also able to enter the library.



(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#3) - When the Sorcerers became distracted by records of all the magicians who had been locked away by Merlin, the spirits prepared to attack. Fortunately, Sir Isaac Newton spotted one crouching atop a bookcase and called out a warning while creating a mystical shield around the Sorcerers. As more than a dozen dark spirits attacked the group but were held back by the shield, Demon Rider observed that the spirits had turned and Newton revealed that his shield would not last for long. Wiccan stated that he would hit them with a spell but Demon Rider protested that the spirits were innocent and must be returned to their bodies.

   As Newton asked how and Strange said that they had no choice, the Forgotten arrived and stated that that was why they failed because there was always a choice...and they (the Forgotten) chose revenge! The Forgotten then used the Light of Darkness amulet against everyone else in the library, shattering the shield that had been protecting the Sorcerers and destroying at least a half dozen of the turned spirits. Demon Rider cried out against this destruction with a loud "NO!" which prompted the Forgotten to reveal their opinion that the spirits were not innocent because they had done nothing while they (the Forgotten) had rotted in prison. The Sorcerers then attacked the Forgotten who, after a brief battle that resulted in the death of one of its components, retreated because they had acquired the relic that they had needed.







   As dawn came, the Sorcerers were able to use their magic to guide the spirits into returning to their bodies. Those whose spirits had been restored then woke up but those whose spirits had been destroyed by the Forgotten (like Lord Vall?) remained in their non-responsive state and could not be awakened.



(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#5 (fb) - BTS) - Meanwhile, the corrupted magicians remained trapped in the Hollow Out of Time for centuries.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#4 (fb) - BTS) - As time passed, the prisoners began to become one, merging both physically and mentally into a single composite being that called itself the Forgotten.

(Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#1 (fb) - BTS) - In the early 21st century, the alien Empirikul eradicated most of Earth's magic. This weakening of magic somehow released The Forgotten from its prison. Seeking to regain all that Merlin had taken from them, the Forgotten travelled back to Merlin's time.



Comments: Created by Robbie Thompson, Javier Rodriguez and Álvaro López.

   Presumably the bodies of those people whose spirits had been destroyed by the Forgotten would have continued to weaken until they died but this has not been confirmed.

   It has similarly not been revealed if those people whose spirits had "rotted" and "turned" while disembodied suffered any aftereffects (like becoming more aggressive than they had been) from their experience.

   Since no reason was provided for why the forms in which the spirits manifested in the library were so different from what they were in the forests, I have engaged in a bit of speculation and developed these three possible explanations:
1. The spirits were always capable of manifesting full bodies for themselves but were prevented from doing so in the forest by the presence of solar radiation that could damage the darkness out of which their forms were created. Being in the library and away from any sunlight freed the spirits to manifest more fully.
2. The spirits in the forest did have full bodies but they were not visible because they had compressed them so that they would be small enough to use shadows to hide from the sunlight. As a result, only their eyes were left unshrunken and thus were the only visible portions of their bodies.
3. The friendly spirits in the forest were just too weak to manifest as more than eyes. The spirits needed the strength that they gained when they "rotted" to become strong enough to form whole bodies for themselves.

Soul Removal 101
   In the Marvel Universe, removing a soul from its physical form can result in a number of different outcomes. Although these differing results are presumably caused by the variety of methods that were used to remove the souls, at this time I am not aware of exactly how those methods differ from one another.
1. Death: Sometimes bodies simply die, instantly and irrevocably, as soon as their souls are removed.
2. Death-like state: Sometimes the metabolisms of the soulless bodies cease (i.e., their hearts stop beating and their lungs stop breathing, etc.) but the bodies do not experience any cellular deterioration and will be perfectly healthy (and fully alive) once their souls are returned.
3. Unconsciousness/coma: Sometimes bodies whose souls have been removed just fall into a deeply unconscious state from which they cannot be awoken until/unless their souls are returned to them.
4. Mindless: Sometimes soulless bodies remain fully alive but are essentially mindless and totally under the control of other people.
5. Totally obedient: Sometimes soulless bodies remain fully alive and controlled by their own minds but will be unable to disobey any commands given to them by the people who have possession of their souls.
6. Sociopathic: Sometimes people whose souls have been removed remain alive and conscious and retain their own wills. However, such individuals often lose their ability to feel love or compassion and eventually become sociopathic and/or insane.
7. Immortality: In some cases, the lack of a soul causes an individual to become unaging and immune to any forms of death.

   In contrast to these forms of soullessness, a zombie is a dead body which has been reanimated through some form of magic. They are (usually) also soulless but in a significantly different way.

Camelot...or NOT Camelot?
   The name of the castle in which Merlin's library was located was never revealed but there are several reasons to believe that the writer may have meant it to be Camelot. Aside from its obvious link to Merlin, there are these two references:
1. When the Sorcerers Supreme first sighted the castle, immediately after a discussion about what their actions may have done to the stream of time, the Conjuror stated, "Nothing good, it would seem." Doctor Strange responded by exclaiming, "By the Eye of Agamotto, what have we done to Camelot?" This comment would seem to indicate that Strange, at least for a time, believed the castle to be Camelot.
2. The recap page for issue #12 describes the Sorcerers Supreme as having been on "an adventure that took them from Ancient Camelot to a future Hell..."

   On the other hand, there are also reasons to believe that the castle was not actually Camelot after all:
1. The castle does look significantly different from how Camelot was depicted in other stories (like Iron Man I#150).
2. According to one account, after the fall of Arthur's Camelot, many of its survivors relocated to Otherworld where they built a new castle and named it Camelot. This would seem to imply that the Camelot on Earth was abandoned after it fell.
3. Despite what Doctor Strange said, Sir Isaac Newton only referred to the castle as "Merlin's home. His castle."

   In my opinion, the evidence is inconclusive. Maybe the castle WAS Camelot, much diminished by its fall but still inhabited. Alternatively, maybe Merlin had a castle of his own, one that was separate from Arthur's Camelot. Who can say which option is "the truth?" Maybe only Robbie Thompson knows for sure what his intent was; and even that would be subject to how it fits into continuity.

   In any event, this time period is clearly after the fall of Camelot which was triggered by King Arthur's death. And since that death supposedly took place during or soon after the Battle of Camlann, which is usually dated to 537 A.D., that places the visit by the Sorcerers Supreme to sometime after that year. Also, the fact that Arthur was shown to have been king in 507 A.D. means that he must have been at least in his fifties when he died.

   Although a caption in the very first panel of the first page of the first issue of Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme states that Time's Forgotten Hollow was located in England, I have used the name Britain instead because "England" was not used until after the 6th century.

   The Forgotten reminded itself that the path to Merlin's library was blocked (presumably by Merlin's binding/warding) on page 13 of DSatSS#2, and it did not declare that "At last" it could feel that the path home was open until page 13 of DSatSS#3. I initially found this delay to be puzzling, since Demon Rider had removed the binding spell on page 5 of DSatSS#3, and wondered if the Forgotten had had to wait for something else, like the savage spirits to attack the Supremes, before it could finally enter. However, I've since realized that maybe the reason why the Forgotten did not enter the castle until page 13 was because it had been elsewhere, retrieving the Light of Darkness amulet, and had only just arrived at the castle when it sensed the way was open. So, there's no mystery surrounding its delayed entry after all.

Profile by Donald Campbell.

These wandering, disembodied spirits have no known connection to:


   The fortified structure inhabited by the people whose souls were removed from their bodies by the Forgotten. Their leader was apparently a man named Lord Vall but his leadership has not been confirmed.

   Although it is known that the castle was somewhere in Britain (i.e., on the island in the North Atlantic Ocean now known as Great Britain), its exact location was never specified nor was its name ever revealed. In the time period visited by a group of time-traveling Sorcerers Supreme, sometime after the year 507 A.D., the castle was mostly surrounded by an extensive forest. The castle was also close enough to the ocean that the top of one of its towers could be seen (by Sir Isaac Newton) from the seashore.

   The castle was quite large, at least ten stories tall, giving it a height of well over 100 feet. The lowest building was the gatehouse which was at least 30 feet tall. Although the largest parts of the castle were rectangular, there were also at least four smaller round towers. It was the top of one of these round towers that Newton, from the seashore, could see rising above the forest.

   The castle had been built on and around an outcropping of rock, and probably included chambers hewn from that rock. The castle was surrounded by a dry moat, and its one known entrance could only be reached via a drawbridge over that moat. A portcullis was present within the gatehouse wall and could be lowered to seal off the castle.

   The walls of the castle and its sub-buildings seem to have all been built from a gray stone. Originally firm and smooth, by the time the Sorcerers visited it a number of cracks and holes in the walls had opened up. The fact that this damage had not been repaired led Newton to remark on the castle's "fallen walls" (even though none of the walls had actually been breached).

   Aside from the stone walls, the castle and the people who lived there was also protected by Nordic binding spells that mystically bound some (or all) of its doors. These wardings were able to prevent the Forgotten from physically entering the castle but couldn't stop whatever magic it used to compel the people's souls to leave their bodies. At a greater distance from the castle, Merlin had placed booby traps on the nearest beach. Triggered by the presence of souls, the sand beneath the intruders would open up and suck them down and into a strange realm where the Spirits of the Unholy would try to kill them with their touch. Hopefully the local inhabitants had been warned to avoid walking on that particular beach.

   Merlin's library was located somewhere in the bowels of the castle. The door to the library was kept locked but Merlin gave Newton the key and Newton gave it to his Mindful One servant to carry. Newton claimed that Merlin trusted him but this seems unlikely. The library may have been protected by additional wardings that were lowered when the door was opened with the key.

   It has been implied that the prison known as the Hollow Out of Time was located underneath the castle, somewhere below Merlin's library, but this has never been confirmed. However, the fact that the way to the Hollow was apparently blocked by the wardings on the castle strongly indicates that the surface entrance to the passage that led to the Hollow was close enough to the castle to be affected by those wardings.

   When the Forgotten traveled back in time from the early 21st century, it arrived in Britain in what was probably the mid to late 6th century. Blaming the people who lived in the castle for the suffering that its past selves were even then experiencing, the Forgotten cast a spell that removed their souls from their bodies and left them as wandering spirits.

   Sometime later, the group of Sorcerers Supreme assembled by Merlin were in the area fighting a battle against the Forgotten's beast-men. After the Forgotten arrived and killed Merlin, the battle began to turn against the Supremes so Wiccan teleported them away to "Merlin's home" but they ended up on the booby-trapped beach. Once they had escaped that trap, the group walked through the forest to the castle to find and enter Merlin's library. Removing the bindings on one of the doors, the Supremes found the bodies of the people whose souls had been removed but continued on to the library. It was only after entering the library and battling first the turned spirits and then the Forgotten that the Sorcerers returned to the courtyard where the soulless bodies lay and used their magic to return the surviving souls to their proper bodies.

   Once the castle's inhabitants had been restored, the Sorcerers Supreme left to go to the Hollow Out of Time where they planned to meet the Forgotten and destroy it once and for all.


Note: In Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #2, the pointed roof of this castle's highest tower could be seen above the trees on pages 12 & 17, and the group saw the castle close-up as they entered it on page 20. However, on page 13 the Forgotten was also depicted as seeing a gray structure that protruded above the top of the forest. At first I thought that it might have been the same castle but then I realized that the roof of this building's highest tower was flat and not pointed, indicating that they were not the same castle after all. However, since it's possible that the artist was just a bit inconsistent in his drawing of what was meant to be a single castle, I've included an image of what the Forgotten saw in this sub-profile.

   On the other hand, the Forgotten was speaking about how it was time to retrieve the Light of Darkness as it looked out across the forest top. Maybe that other castle was where that relic was located and where it was going next?

--Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#2-3

images: (without ads)
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#3, page 12, panel 2 (main image)
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#2, page 18, panel 4 (eyes in the forest)
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#3, page 6, panel 1 (soulless bodies in the castle)
      page 12, panel 4 (mass attack on the Sorcerers)
      page 14, panels 2-8 (attacked by the Forgotten)
      page 19, panels 5-9 (souls returning to their bodies)
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#2, page 20, panel 1 (castle)
      page 13, panel 8 (other? castle at a distance)

Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme#2-3 (January - February, 2017) - Robbie Thompson (writer), Javier Rodriguez (penciler), Álvaro López (inker), Nick Lowe (editor)

First Posted: 07/14/2019
Last updated: 07/14/2019

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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