Thursday, June 20, 2013

His biggest success was a secret, to himself and others.

Often at comic shows or the quarter bins, I'm replacing books I used to have but somehow lost. I had a flood a few years back that took a lot of books; I've lent out dozens that never made it back to me; I've even sold a book or two. Today's book I may have thrown out a window...from 1990, Avengers Spotlight #37, "Interlude in a Peaceable Kingdom!" Written by Roy and Dann Thomas, art by Bob Hall, inks by Win Mortimer. Before I should go on, I should point out all the above creators have done work I've liked far, far more than this issue! But, they only have so much to work with here, "The Reincarnation of Doctor Druid!"

This was the first of four issues of Avengers Spotlight--which was mostly terrible every issue I ever saw of it--under the heading "Avengers Reborn." The next three were Tigra, the Black Knight, and the Vision, and I haven't read them and thus shouldn't badmouth them sight unseen. But this issue starts with Dr. Druid, amnesiac and lost in an Eden-like paradise, with a blonde in a torn-up costume and telling pinstriped thigh-high boots. Suffering from nightmares and feeling he has to find the truth, Druid uses his mental powers to dig through his thoughts and drudge through his origin and history: years ago, in the Himalayas, Druid tried to save the life of an aged lama, who on his deathbed bequeathed Druid powers to fight "sinister occult forces." Which he did for some time, until he eventually joined the Avengers; but fell under the control of the mysterious Nebula. Nebula had at various times claimed to be the granddaughter of Thanos, and worn the uniform of Kang the Conqueror, and appeared as an alien with blue skin, or a blonde beauty that somehow was still interested in Druid. Regaining his memory, Nebula likewise regains hers, and they realize their "Eden" was merely a shared hallucination, and they're still in the time bubble of the Renegade Celestial they fell into when last seen.

Nebula absorbs "anti-time" power, and returns herself and Druid to earth, in 1961. And Lincoln, Nebraska. There, Nebula figures there will be no super-heroes to stop her, and casts Druid out. Inexplicably, Druid lands in Tibet, outside the lamasery where he first got his powers. Druid runs through his origin again, but this time, the "lama" reveals the truth: Druid was a test case. The "lama" was actually the Ancient One, who needed to test his ability to pass on his powers, and create an interim mystic champion until Doctor Strange was ready. Druid isn't even mad about this, because "it's not everybody who gets to be point man for a Sorcerer Supreme!" (This is all pretty meta, since Druid was formerly "Dr. Droom" and was pretty much the beta version of Dr. Strange.) Druid feels his missteps, like his Avengers tenure, were the results of him feeling like a second-rater; but he did succeed at his previously unmentioned and unknown to him mission, so now he thinks he can step up to Nebula.
Meanwhile, Nebula is terrorizing 1961's Lincoln, Nebraska. Fun fact: I hate this page.
Druid uses some borrowed Celtic artifacts to manifest himself threefold: a young version, if he'd had his powers then; the present balding one, and a geezer. This actually has a bit of druid-ness to it--just a bit. Druid reflects Nebula's anti-time blast back at her, and that's pretty much all she wrote. Druid wakes up in 1990 Lincoln, and realizes he somehow is still the younger version of himself. He doesn't know how long it'll last, so merely resolves to enjoy: "Maybe this time I'll even keep my hair!"

Dr. Druid would turn up another couple of times, like in Mark Gruenwald's Captain America a few times (most notably during "Cap-Wolf!") but his revamp didn't take. But if you've read this issue, you're probably more than OK with Warren Ellis's treatment of Druid...

1 comment:

~P~ said...

Young, long-hair Druid did kinda last (well, up until he got flambe'd by Hellstorm).
After he got young again, he took over for Dr. Strange as leader of the SECRET DEFENDERS (ugh) and then he faked his death there to go all dark and Ellis-y (and then dead for reals).

FUN FACT: The solicitation text for the next issues of DRUID were to have Hellstrom invite a bunch of mystics over for a feast/meeting and he was going to lift the top off a toureen and there would be a cooked DR DRUID.

Dr. Strange was to be livid and a big to-do was to erupt.

But, sadly, Marvel pulled the plug on the series and it was truncated into a mini.