Marvel has done a good job lately of taking rarely used notions and underdeveloped characters and giving them a new spin. To use an old advertising notion, Marvel is throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. Remender’s take on Doctor Voodoo certainly sticks with me. In taking a cipher of a character (sorry Brother Voodoo fans — both of you) and heaping a mountain of responsibility and power on his shoulders, Remender has opened up his possibilities for story avenues.
By putting Doctor Voodoo in a mysteriously threatening realm filled with gigantic, cycloptic frogs, Remender gives us a sliver of the scope of challenges awaiting Doctor Voodoo. Remender’s story provides unsettling insight into the events that shaped Jericho Drumm into the Sorcerer Supreme he is in this issue. Of course, he’s not entirely a competent Sorcerer Supreme, but he does have the trappings of the Sorcerer Supreme, and he’s accumulating the enemies of the post.
Palo’s art is haunting and gritty at the same time. Whether this is Palo tailoring his style to fit the subject matter or just an amazing serendipitous match of talent to character, I am unsure, but in this case, it works. Palo’s art almost feels tangible, but if one could touch it, a fair amount of grit and grime would certainly come off. This world of Doctor Voodoo’s is shadowy and murky, yet Palo makes it so in an appealing way. This is a comic with great visuals. Those visuals are enhanced in this issue with flashback scenes drawn by Gabriel Hardman of “Agents of Atlas” fame. Those scenes star the Drumm brothers from their younger days as we learn why Jericho Drumm seems to have such bad luck.
Remender has firmly entrenched Jericho Drumm’s adventures in the greater Marvel universe with appearances by Doctor Doom, Stephen Strange, and Daimon Hellstrom. These appearances are natural and logical, of course they also deepen the legend being constructed here. This issue is also rounded out by a four-page reprint of “The Book of the Vishanti” by Roy Thomas, R.J.M. Lofficier and Geof Isherwood. Dense and verbose, that story provides some extra background that isn’t necessary to understand where we are, but makes for a nice bit of extra reading.
This is a book that deserves a little more recognition than it is going to get. Readers tend to shy away from magic based characters, but Remender and company are offering a believably, humanly flawed character for readers to walk alongside.