What The D'ast? Doctor Voodoo
Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 13:22
(Editorâ€™s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Contributing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with Marvel Cosmic and its many denizens. Mr. Brewerâ€™s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)
By Byron Brewer
With Marvel Cosmic on the upswing – if not in sales, at least by way of support from fans and the Big Wigs at the publishing house – you would think this would be a fan boy’s dream time … even if that fan boy was 51 and relatively newly-returned to comics.
But no. Although the satisfaction of events like the twin Annihilations, War of Kings and Realm of Kings by those modern-day House of Ideas creators, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, have done nothing but strengthen ongoings like Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, a wrong is about to occur (as of this writing) and it is from this side of The Fault.
Doctor Voodoo, which so recently got a fantastic launch from Marvel’s flagship franchise, New Avengers, all too soon found itself floundering with a case of Strange-itis, a mystic malady that keeps any overly creative concept on the magical side of Marvel from being successful. It appears that the Eye of Agamotto’s choice of Jericho Drumm (and thus his ectoplasmic bro, Daniel) as Sorcerer Supreme is favored by neither the Voodoo gods, the Vishanti nor the readers of Marvel Comics, and is to be cut off before the mag’s afterbirth has dripped from Loa-land. Doctor Voodoo #5 shall be the end of the series, and I have heard no rumors of relaunch save perhaps the character’s use in New Avengers.
What a sad state of affairs for us Marvel Cosmic readers who also enjoy the mystic side of things (e.g., Adam Warlock, Magus and The Sphinx). The newspaper drama Lou Grant, which spun off of the CBS comedy The Mary Tyler Moore Show, would never have gotten its Emmys or have been able to tell its groundbreaking storylines if CBS had the same theory as Marvel back in the 1970s. (Grant picked up the lion’s share of its viewers when America discovered it during summer reruns; one of the greatest TV shows of our time initially ran off the video scope a ratings loser.)
Nor do I think the Fantastic Four, the title that launched the present Marvel Universe, would have ever taken off in the 1960s had commercial philosophies been as they are today. I cannot believe those first five Fantastic Four issues by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were gangbusters in sales when readers of comics were not used to this yet – heroes operating as a family, with the public having full knowledge of heretofore “secret” identities and where they lived. Now mind you, I have no evidence of this fact -- I am simply writing as a longtime reader who loves him some Marvel – but what Stan and Jack did was so radical. Surely it took more than five issues to catch on, to become what the book always was to me when I read it, “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.”
I may be wrong, but I don’t think you can tell anything about the future success of a publication with just five issues. No, I take that back; as a reader, I could tell that I loved what the creative team was doing with a character I had not one whit of feeling for previous to the title debuting in October. For too long had fans of Marvel Mystic gone wanting. (Fans of Marvel Cosmic can identify.) Doctor Strange has appeared here and there and was even an Avenger, but the feel of those classic Lee/Ditko - Thomas/Colan/Palmer – Englehart/Brunner tales of terror have been absent awhile. I found it in Doctor Voodoo.
How appropriate was it that writer Rick Remender made the true villain of the comic’s first – and apparently only – arc Nightmare, who helped launch another Master of the Mystic Arts on his merry way? Aside from a somewhat different interpretation of the Unreal One by artists and mood creators Jefte Palo and Gabriel Hardman (oh, that hair!), the art – while not your usual comic book fare – is electrifying and crackling with the energies of another world, especially when Drumm cuts loose. And those crows …!
I have been told the economy is bad, and many readers have had to pull back on their buy lists. Same here. I have been told Doctor Voodoo was “extremely niche.” It is about the mystic side of the 616 world, and it was a niche that needed – and still needs – filling. I am informed sales for #1 were around 23,000 and change, with #2 dropping to 16,000-plus.
I know comics is a business; I have worked in the publishing industry all my life. But it is a creative medium, and sometimes special circumstances call for a tightening of the belt on the other end, especially if you know a niche (that word again) fan base is there. And how many folks have called for an ongoing magical-oriented series over the years? The voice may be weak, but I have heard it.
Marvel Comics has done just what I suggested regarding low-sellers like its Cosmic line, for which I thank my lucky stars. Surely with the creative minds and mass of Disney behind it, Marvel could cut our new Sorcerer Supreme and his creative team a break?