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Sunday, June 23, 2019


When traveling across dimensions in Defenders #4 (Feb. 1973), Dr. Strange faced the evil conjurer Fragon. In the midst of combat, Fragon used the term magicks (spelled with k) to describe the sorcery of Dr. Strange. The British version for the story from Rampage #5 retained this alternate spelling. In both versions, the word magicks appeared in bold, as comics often do when introducing a name or term.

The word magicks would stay in comic book lexicon—without the bold lettering for emphasis. Although Dr. Strange typically used the conventional spelling of magic, he referred to his own magicks (with k) in a showdown against rival sorcerer Cyrus Black in Dr. Strange #34 (April 1979).

Pronounced the same with or without the k, the alternate spelling would suggest a distinct meaning. While no hard and fast rules would apply, generally speaking, characters from the past or from another dimension seemed more likely to favor the alternate spelling.

When the X-Men traveled to Limbo in Uncanny X-Men #160 (Aug. 1982), the demon Belasco spoke of his own magicks. The hero Nightcrawler, in turn, described that dimension as magickal (also spelled with k). Events from that story led to Illyana Rasputin becoming the hero Magik (adopting a personalized spelling without c). In most other contexts, Illyana's teammates in the New Mutants spelled magic the usual way.

In other instances, the alternate spelling (with k) accentuated the difference between the past from the present. The Canadian hero Shaman contrasted the healing power of his traditional magicks to the effectiveness of modern medicine in Alpha Flight #2 (Sept. 1983). Exposition in Gargoyle #2 (July 1985) delineated the modern era from a time of ancient magick (singular).

These distinctions, however, remain subjective, as the criteria for including the letter k might vary from issue to issue within a comic book series.

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