HeroesCon: Remender On "Doctor Voodoo"

With Norman Osborn's "Dark Reign" in full effect, it seems like evil in the Marvel Universe is operating right out in the open. To some extent that's true, but there are still also dark, eldritch and ancient things lurking and slithering in the shadows, quietly plotting the downfall of man. At one point, it was the job of the Earth Dimension's Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Stephen Strange, to deal with these supernatural threats, but Strange no longer holds that title. The new Sorcerer Supreme of Earth is Doctor Jericho Drumm, formerly known as Brother Voodoo. Drumm officially begins his tenure as Sorcerer Supreme this October when the new ongoing series "Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural," by writer Rick Remender and a yet to be revealed artist, begins. CBR News spoke with Remender about the title character and his plans for the series.

The role of Sorcerer Supreme wasn't something Drumm chose. Rather, it was thrust upon him at the end of the recent "New Avengers" #53, when the mystical talisman known as the Eye of Agamotto, which serves as one of the Sorcerer Supreme's symbols of office, tapped him to be Earth's new mystical guardian. "To me, Jericho was never someone who really put himself in the limelight. As Brother Voodoo, he was Houngan Supreme, which is the Voodoo version of Sorcerer Supreme, and he served the people of New Orleans. He's also a psychiatrist and physician at a non-profit clinic he runs in New Orleans. It's not just a non-profit, it's completely charitable. He doesn't take any money. He's not a wealthy man. He lives humbly, serves the people and ultimately didn't see this coming at all," Remender told CBR News. "In no way, shape or form did Jericho see the Eye of Agamotto suddenly bestowing upon him the title of Sorcerer Supreme, which makes things more interesting, because he's a character I don't think anybody expected to take on the mantle. The Eye chose him for a reason, though."

"The reason the Eye chose him, is that there's a terrible coming darkness in the Marvel Universe, and we're going to be building that in this series. I'm incredibly excited about it. There's going to be a lot of fun reveals," Remender continued. "The Eye chose Jericho to combat this imminent darkness, this coming supernatural horror, because his birthplace was in the shadow realms."

The Eye of Agamotto chose well in Jericho Drumm, because the new Sorcerer Supreme has two personality traits that will serve him well in his ultimate confrontation with the looming supernatural entity. "As opposed to to someone like Stephen Strange, who is more centered and thoughtful, Jericho is a man of passion. I also think he's highly intelligent, and that's something that often gets lost in his characterization, but when he's handled correctly he's an incredibly intelligent person. " Remender remarked. "And when I say he runs passionate, he's almost obsessive, in that he's very eager to prove that he's worthy of the title of Sorcerer Supreme. He's out to prove it to himself and his ancestors. Stephen Strange was the type to often wait back and take care of things [as they occurred]; Jericho is a more pro-active and aggressive Sorcerer Supreme.

If he's not careful though, Drumm's passion and sense of drive could end up being a double edged sword."Jericho is like the guy on his first week of the job he worked his life to get," Remender explained. "He's got that eagerness to please and he's going to work way too many hours and kill himself as he tries to outdo his predecessor and set things right in the supernatural world."

For Jericho, changing from Brother Voodoo, Houngan Supreme to Doctor Voodoo, Sorcerer Supreme is a little like going from a boxer to a mixed martial artist. He still has all of his old abilities, only now they're combined with all the attributes and artifacts that come with being the Earth Dimension's chief magical defender. "He's got the Book of Vishanti, the Eye and Orb of Agamotto, and the Cloak of Levitation. He's also got things like his own Staff of Sobo, which has these little shrunken heads that eat evil spirits and allow him to perform exorcisms," Remender remarked. "What we've done is... Jericho went from being a bit player in the shadows, just taking care of New Orleans, to part of the mystical A-List. So if Jericho shows up now, underestimating Doctor Voodoo is a terrible mistake that a lot of people are going to make."

Tapping into both Voodoo and Sorcery is not going to be without consequences for Drumm, and in this series, Remender plans to delve deep into the Voodoo aspects of his protagonist and how they pertain to the Marvel Universe. "As Houngan Supreme, he tapped into the power of the Loas," Remender explained. "Bondye, or the heaven of the Voodoo Gods, has been locked away for millenia plus centuries. For a long time these gods have been sealed away from humanity for reasons that we'll get into in our first arc; so they have messengers who travel to Earth, and these are the Loas. Each of them are sort of the equivalent of saints. As Houngan Supreme, Jericho taps into these Loas for different magic and abilities."

Doctor Voodoo is going to need all of his magical abilities as well as his wits if he's to survive the first arc of his new series because Remember plans on unleashing both new villains on his protagonist as well as a who's who of Marvel's malevolent mystical elite. "Imagine if you're Dormammu, Doctor Doom or Nightmare and all of a sudden Stephen Strange isn't the Sorcerer Supreme anymore. It's now that guy who lived by the bayou in Louisiana. All those relics, those powerful things you wanted are now in the hands of somebody you're not afraid of and don't respect," Remender said. "So everybody is going to start gunning for him all at once. Plus he's dealing with a lot in his own land of the Voodoo Gods. An avalanche of insanity is going to fall on him in his first day at work."

The first arc of "Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of Supernatural" will be just four issues and won't be your typical introductory story. "I try not to do those 'putting the pieces on the board' type stories unless its in a manner that's got velocity," Remender explained. "Nobody wants exposition. I'm trying to get the train out of the station with some serious momentum. Brian Bendis was instrumental in getting this series going and gave me some great ideas, one of which is going to be in play in the first issue because it's just brilliant.

"That first arc should just be a shotgun blast to the face and not just give you the status quo of the character and his supporting cast, but hopefully get you to the heart of the character," Remender continued. "Hopefully it will show you who he is and why you want to see him succeed in organizing the complete disarray that is the supernatural corner of the Marvel Universe."

Readers can expect the stories in "Doctor Voodoo" to be on a scale similar to Marvel's "Avengers" line of books. "This is the big book where all things supernatural will coalesce and come together," Remender said. "What we really want to do is establish laws and boundaries for the supernatural Marvel Universe. One thing I think people have a difficult understanding when it comes to supernatural characters is the limits. You can tell people power limits for any number of characters, but with someone like Doctor Strange, they're infinite in so many different ways. The finite ability of magic needs to be established so we can understand at which point characters need to overcome things using their wits and other attributes beyond their magic abilities. So this series will serve as the center for all things supernatural in the Marvel Universe."

One of the chief supporting characters in "Doctor Voodoo" is actually a being of the supernatural -- Jericho Drumm's deceased brother Daniel, who lives on as a disembodied spirit. "Daniel's great because he can possess people, and since he's a being of the spirit world, he can delve into the realm of death, which is something Stephen Strange rejected or didn't do because of the dangers," Remender remarked. "Daniel adds a really interesting element to Jericho's character."

The supporting cast of "Doctor Voodoo" will also include several new characters. "There's a love interest and some other people who work at his clinic in New Orleans," Remender said. "We're also introducing a large cast of Voodoo gods and a few new villains will come from their ranks. Again, the world, to the Voodoo gods, has been sealed and not open for millenia. So dealing with and introducing any of those characters is going to be a big deal especially if they were to make it to Earth."

Doctor Voodoo will keep track of the Voodoo Gods and the other movers and shakers in the supernatural world with the help of a special area in his Sanctum Sanctorum, his home and base of operations. "He has a watchdog station with scrying stones he uses to keep tabs on things. When you take over somebody's position, you look at the failings of your predecessor, and I think Jericho finds the supernatural world of the Marvel Universe to be in total disarray," Remender explained. "Vampires run unabated in London. Zombies are bleeding into our world from other dimensions. The Hood is being powered by Dormammu. Everything is out of balance and unchecked. There is a chaotic energy to the supernatural which is ultimately do in part to this coming darkness.

"So Drum sets up a watchdog station, and through these scrying stones, he's keeping tabs on all these magic users, and other supernatural beings and phenomenon," Remender continued. "It's something Stephen Strange warns him against, but ultimately Jericho is going to do things his way."

If Doctor Voodoo sounds like a character with big plans and a desire to change things for the better, that's because he is. In fact, Remender is fond of an analogy comparing the character to a real world figure who's using his position of power to try and change things. "He's Obama taking the keys from Bush. I'm not saying Stephen Strange is the equivalent of George W. Bush, but I think we saw in 'New Avengers' that Stephen Strange made some mistakes," Remender said. "I think when you have a job with that much responsibility for as long as Stephen had it, he only looks 40 - he's something like 80 or 90, the edges get dulled a bit. So in comes Jericho, and he's going to aggressively pursue organizing things. He's the guy who's going to storm Dormammu's castle in the Dark Dimension, plant his flag and say, 'Stay out of Earth, buddy!'"

Remender has taken great care to make sure "Doctor Voodoo:Avenger of the Supernatural" is a title with something to offer both newcomers and long time fans of the magical and supernatural corners of the Marvel Universe and hopes when issue #1 hits that readers give the series a chance. "It's just giant and with the new Sorcerer Supreme hopefully we've got something that new readers can latch onto without having to be privy to any old continuity," the writer remarked. "This is a dream project of mine, and I hope the enthusiasm and fun were having in making it shines through."

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