Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Discerning Dr. Druid

Previous posts on this site have looked at several members of the Defenders, and even Man-Thing, in context of the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Given his name, Dr. Druid is another character worth considering from this perspective.

First things first: the mystical hero bears almost no resemblance to a Druid as described in D&D or other literature. The incongruency arose when the character's name changed from the original (albeit vague) Dr. Droom to Dr. Druid.

If not a Druid then, where might he fall within the game? Dr. Druid's power of hypnosis and cerebral school of magic map closely to the spells available to an Illusionist, a Magic-User sub-class from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. In his earliest adventures, Dr. Druid demonstrated the exceptional intelligence and dexterity required of Illusionist characters.

Although an Illusionist could follow any philosophical alignment within the game, Druid characters would automatically identify as Neutral, seeing good/evil, law/chaos as balancing forces in nature. With regard to his own moral compass, the shadowy Dr. Druid could be hard to pin down.

This image of Dr. Druid comes from The Office Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Droom Patrol

Defenders #27 (Sept. 1975) took the non-team to the year 3015 A.D. In that future timeline, Dr. Strange, Hulk, Nighthawk and Valkyrie teamed up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to battle the Badoon, a species of green-skinned extraterrestrials that had conquered the Earth. Leading the Badoon was a despot named Droom.

That character's name caught my attention for historical reasons.

Amazing Adventures #1 (June 1961) introduced Dr. Droom, a physician from the United States who learned magic in Tibet. The magician's amazing adventures continued each month through issue #4 (Sept. 1961), but Dr. Droom did not become part of the extended superhero universe that cemented with Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961).

That changed, in a way, with the publication of Weird Wonder Tales #19 (Dec. 1976), which reprinted that tale from Amazing Adventures #1 with minor revisions.

The original story depicted Dr. Droom as gaining a stereotypical Asian mustache and slanted eyes as a result of learning magic. The reprint, on the other hand, inked over the original artwork and gave the character a beard and consistent facial features throughout the story.

The reprint also changed the hero's surname from Droom to Druid. Revised versions of other Dr. Droom stories appeared with the renamed Dr. Druid each month through Weird Wonder Tales #22 (March 1977). That issue included an introductory paragraph that gave more cohesion to the eclectic character:

My name is Anthony Druid, and in my time I have been many things. I have the skills of a Yogi—the wisdom of a Lama—and the powers of the ancient Britons! I dwell in a dark, shadowy world—destroying evil, protecting the innocent. Danger is my task … Justice, my goal! DR. DRUID. MASTER of the UNKNOWN!