Nicodemus West was a doctor who operated on Doctor Strange's hands after his car accident. While he was able to save Strange's hands, he was unable to repair the nerve damage, making it impossible for Strange to ever be a surgeon again. West was wracked with guilt because he felt that his own incompetence as a doctor had not only destroyed Strange's hands, but that he was also indirectly guilty for the deaths of all those who Strange couldn't save. To make amends, he desperately wanted to repair the severed nerves in Strange's hands, and therefore pursued Strange across the globe, all the way to Tibet and the Sanctorum of the Ancient One.
Sensing that West was lost in life, the Ancient One decided to teach him about the mystic arts in an effort to guide him as he had for Strange. West was too anxious however to cure the ails of the world with his new-found abilities, and so he abandoned his studies too early. His first attempt to heal with magic proved successful, but his inexperience soon backfired, causing him to accidentally kill a man while trying to heal him.
Before he could turn himself in, West was approached by two members of Timely Pharmaceuticals. Fearful of the threat to their business that mystics like West could become, they offered him the position of C..E.O. of their company, provided he never use his magical powers again, and in return they'd hide the accident he had caused. West accepted their offer, and used his knowledge of magic to seek out and discourage other mystics that could present a threat to Timely's business.
Nicodemus West was created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Marcos Martin. He first appeared in 2006's Doctor Strange: The Oath #1, acting as the main antagonist for the mini-series.
Major Story Arcs
When his trusted assistant Wong became afflicted with an inoperable brain tumor, Doctor Strange sought out a mystical means of curing it. In the process, Strange acquired an elixir that could potentially cure every known disease. Timely Pharmaceuticals' Board of Directors saw this as a dire threat to their business and ordered West to find a way to take the elixir from Strange. West hired the professional thief, Brigand, to steal it. Brigand was successful, but nearly killed Strange in the process, and also murdered a doctor that Strange had sent a sample of the elixir to for testing. West did not approve of Brigand's ruthlessness, but also did not dare disobey his Timely superiors when they later ordered him to eliminate Strange and anyone else who knew of the elixir. He therefore summoned a monstrous demon known as a Marrakant Hellguard and sent it to Night Nurse's hospice, as she had been caring for Strange after he nearly got killed by Brigand. The Hellguard was immensely powerful and Strange found himself in dire straits, but he managed to slay the beast using the weapon Brigand had used against him.
Soon after, Strange confronted West in order to reclaim the elixir. West explained to Strange of how he came to work for Timely and how he believed the curing of all diseases would do more harm than good through rampant overpopulation. Strange had more faith in the good the elixir could do, especially for Wong, and he faced West in magical combat. While West was well-versed in magic, he paled before Strange's experience and Strange realized that one of the main reasons that West wanted the elixir destroyed was because he couldn't accept that magic could do good. If magic wasn't inherently dangerous to use, it would mean West had been responsible for the death of his patient years ago because of his own inexperience, and that he couldn't simply continue blaming his failure on magic.
Realizing he was no match for Strange in magic, West cast the Sands of Nisanti, and incantation that would prevent both Strange and himself from using magic for the next three minutes. West believed himself to be physically superior enough to beat Strange in a hand-to-hand fight, but it turned out that Strange had learned more than his share of self defense moves from Wong. Furious that he was slated to lose, West threatened to throw the elixir off the top of the building he and Strange had been fighting on, but he slipped and fell off the edge along with the elixir. Strange tried to save him, but the Sands of Nisanti were still in effect.
West died when he hit the ground, and the elixir washed down a drain, save for one drop. Before his death, West had just managed to cast an astral form of himself and he taunted Strange with the choice he would have to make of using the drop to save Wong or find a way to replicate it and potentially save the world. He then briefly mused on what fate awaited himself in death, at which point West's astral form faded. Strange wound up using the elixir to save Wong, while Night Nurse managed to find enough evidence in West's office to incriminate just about all the higher-ups of Timely Pharmaceuticals.
Powers & Abilities
Nicodemus West is an experienced surgeon, quite possibly on par with Doctor Strange in his prime. He was also trained in the mystic arts by the Ancient One just like Strange, although he did not take the time to be trained as extensively as Strange was. What's more is that West also has much less practical experience than Strange when it comes to magic. He has still however shown the capability to summon demons, cast magical bonds, fire blasts of energy, and even enact powerful incantations.