Review: Doctor Voodoo – Avenger of the Supernatural #1

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Or – “An Old Favorite Returns!”

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An old favorite of MINE, at any rate…  It is an undisputed fact that what we liked best as a kid will stick with us in our adulthood, one way or another.  Witness Stephen and my recent discussions on the podcast of why 1979’s ‘The Black Hole’ is a more transformative movie than ‘Star Wars’ for me.  Early in my comics buying life, I picked up the original run of Marvel’s Official Handbook series, and many of my comic book favorites were shaped by those volumes.  My love of Nova, of the Mimic, of the 3-D Man, all stems from those books, as well as my soft spot for the new Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe…  But can Gabriel Drumm live up to the standard set by his prececessor?

DV2.jpgPreviously, on Doctor Voodoo – Avenger of the Supernatural:  Jericho Drumm never believed in the Voudo that he grew up with in his native Haiti.  Twin brother Daniel, however, grew up in the faith, becoming the local houngan of their hometown, while Jericho went to the United States to become a psychologist and physician.  When Daniel fell ill (reputedly the work of a rival practitioner) Jericho comes back to Haiti, swore to his brother that he would continue his magics.  Studying under the mysterious Papa Jambo, Gabriel made contact with the spirit of his fallen twin, and took the name “Brother Voodoo” to honor his sibling.  Using their combined mystical might, the brothers Voodoo defeated the evil houngan who cursed Daniel, and spent several years wandering the Marvel Universe as a mystical troubleshooter of sorts.  When climates changed, Jericho registered under the SHRA, became an agent of SHIELD, and continued his works and his magical studies.  In recent months, Doctor Strange took some drastic actions (including summoning the monster called Zom) that led to him being stripped of the post of Sorcerer Supreme in some nebulous fashion. The talisman of that office, the Eye of Agamotto, sought out the next worthy candidate.  In battling down the Dormammu-possessed Parker Robbins, Jericho proved himself to be the man, and was awarded the mantle of Top Mage.

After his recent incursions into the real world, Dormammu sits in his castle, pondering his next move, not realizing that a new foe is about to arrive in his living room.  “We live in the dark times foretold by the Vishanti,” voice-overs Doctor Voodoo, “A prophesized evil will soon swallow our universe.  I will bring ORDER to the supernatural.”  Of course, Doctor V realizes that evil won’t have much use for this plan.  He confronts Dormammu, informing him that he is now banned from crossing over into other dimensions.  Using the powers of Legba, voodoo magics that his predecessor never even considered, Doctor Voodoo seals Big D’s dimension off from ours, and exits with a final word.  “I hope you have made this dark pit well…  It will serve as your tomb.”  That, my friends, is how you kick things off…  Jericho has immediately distinguished himself from Doctor Strange, and successfully removed a powerful player from the board to start his run.  (He also probably just made a huge enemy, now that I think of it.)  Returning home, Jericho collapses to the floor, exhausted by the effort, but also aware that he’s just sent a message to the entire Dark Dimension and all the nasties out there.  Consulting with Stephen Strange, Jericho is dismayed to find that the elder beings are still in a tizzy, and saddened to see that Dormammu is NOT the source of the mysterious threat in their future.

Doctor Voodoo consults with a couple of other mystical sources, and Doctor Strange is horrified to see that he is dabbling in Chthon’s magic, and using the powers of the Darkhold as well.  Strange realizes that perhaps this IS the thing that makes the difference between his way and Jericho’s way, and exits, having taught the new Supreme everything that he can.  Returning to the real world, we see Jericho’s day job, a free clinic on the edge of bankruptcy, serving patients who cannot afford medical care.  Before he can help anyone, though, a portal opens and DOCTOR DOOM steps through, demanding the Eye of Agamotto.  The doctors leap into battle, and Jericho teleports them away to try and control the battlefield.  Doom redirects their energies to land on an empty plain, a land where he holds the upper hand, but Doctor Voodoo tackles him and they both fall off a cliff, plummeting through dimensions.  Voodoo manages to sabotage Doom’s armor, and they pass through dimension after dimension (including cameos of Blackheart and Shuma-Gorath) before crashing to the ground.  Doom overpowers him ,and rips the Eye from his cape to take the power of Sorcerer Supreme for himself.  Doom looks into the eye, and turns away in horror, then slinks away through another portal.  “I wish you luck, Jericho Drumm…  Though as the holde of that cursed relic, it will do you no good.”  Doctor Voodoo is left abandoned in a strange dimension, wondering what it was that the evil Doctor could have seen…

Rick Remender is a name that I’ve heard a lot, in reference to his run on Fear Agent and over series, but I have only ever read his work as the new writer of the All-New Atom not so long ago.  I have to say, though, he handles this character well, giving Jericho an interesting voice, allowing him to stand toe-to-toe with Doctors Doom and Strange and not immediately get taken down.  His use of different magics gives Voodoo a new take on the post, as well as a built-in weakness down the line, and I enjoy the fact that he was able to stand against Doom, but NOT to easily defeat him.  A new Sorcerer Supreme shouldn’t immediately be the new baddest badass ever just to give the character an immediate rub to start his book.  Overall, the art adds to the creepiness of the affair as well, with Jefte Palo creating a dark and sinister tone throughout, reminding me in places of Mike Mignola’s early work.  Although I liked the fact that someone like Doom wasn’t so easily taken out, I wasn’t entirely sure that having Jericho’s first issue end with him a bloody, beaten mess at the hands of Latveria’s evil king is where I would want to start.  All in all, though, this is a good start for the new kid, and I’m interested in seeing how it all shakes down in the long run.  Hopefully, Marvel won’t immediately turn things back and revert Doctor Strange to the S.S. post immediately and undermine the whole business.  Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #1 earns 3.5 out of 5 stars overall, a nice kickoff for what could be a whole new ballgame for Brother Voodoo and for the entire Marvel Universe.

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