Comic Book Review – Doctor Voodoo

Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural (2010)
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jefte Palo

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Jericho Drumm has assumed the mantle of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme from Stephen Strange. As soon as the former Brother Voodoo takes on this new role, he is assailed by Doctor Doom and other forces of the supernatural. This causes problems at his medical practice in New Orleans, and Drumm must work to tackle these dark powers that seek entry into our realm. At the root of this assault is the demigod Nightmare who is warping the very fabric of reality into a mesh of the concrete and the abstract.

I have consistently tried to enjoy the occult/supernatural superhero comics of both Marvel and DC, but I have never been able to get into a headspace to appreciate what they are doing. I respect the artwork of illustrators like Steve Ditko who created a unique landscape for Doctor Strange, a style, and tone that DC Comics melded onto its Doctor Fate character. However, the esoteric dialogue of these books left me feeling completely disconnected from the humanity of their characters. This is how I felt about Rick Remender’s Doctor Voodoo as well. There is a broad sense of world-building, and I can tell that the author knows the inner workings of this pocket of the Marvel Universe, it’s just that the human element gets lost.

In the opening chapter Jericho Drumm’s New Orleans clinic is set up and then subsequently abandoned for the very eye-pleasing spectacle of Doctor Voodoo’s battle with the forces of Nightmare. There is a brief moment in the second chapter that features the previous bearers of Doctors Strange and Voodoo’s powers. It is a moment reminiscent of Matt Fraction retroactive work on the history of the Iron Fist but not nearly as developed. This brief tease sets up plot developments for the conclusion of this volume, but we never see more of the legacy that Jericho Drumm is following.

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There is much work done with Daniel Drumm, Jericho’s brother, and ghostly companion. Remender plays with the possession angle of Daniel’s situation and it plays a crucial role in overcoming the thrall Nightmare has over the other magic users of the Marvel Universe. As I said before, it all plays out visually pleasing and the right air of creepiness for Nightmare’s suite of powers. However, the final product feels underfed, lacking in a complete conclusion.

I get the sense that what ended up a mini-series was initially intended to be the first arc in a Doctor Voodoo ongoing. This would explain the underdeveloped use of the medical clinic which has the rough brushstrokes of a supporting cast being developed. We’ll never know how this series would have played out. I know that Remender is a very slow burn writer who sets up lots of threads early on and unravels them as he goes. As it stands, Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural is one of his more mediocre works, a very unmemorable piece of work.

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