Brew's Crew: Doctor Spectrum
(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with cosmic comics and their many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)
By Byron Brewer
Kenji Obatu: The first villainous version of this character appears in the final panel of The Avengers #69, the first chapter of a three-issue storyline by writer Roy Thomas and penciller Sal Buscema (who else?). The story arc introduced the Squadron Sinister, whose four members were loosely based on heroes from the
The Squadron Sinister is created by the Grandmaster to battle the champions of the time-traveling Kang, namely the Avengers. Dr. Spectrum battles Iron Man and is defeated when the hero deduces that the villain's Power Prism (a sentient entity called Krimonn) is vulnerable to ultra-violet light. The Avengers eventually defeat the Squadron and they in turn are abandoned by the Grandmaster. Dr. Spectrum reappears in the title Iron Man and after a series of battles is defeated when Iron Man crushes the Power Prism. A powerless Obatu is arrested and deported back to his native Africa.
Billy Roberts: Unknown to Iron Man, the Power Prism reforms and is found by a sanitation worker, who eventually brings it to evangelist Billy Roberts. After learning of the Prism's abilities, he becomes the second Dr. Spectrum.
The Squadron reappear in Defenders, reunited by the alien Nebulon (see his “What the D’ast?” entry); the team is unaware of the fact that this is a new Dr. Spectrum. The villains receive greater power in exchange for the planet Earth, and create a giant laser cannon in the Arcticto melt the polar ice caps, thereby covering the entirety of the Earth's surface in water. The Defenders prevent the scheme and defeat the Squadron (and Nebulon), with Dr. Strange defeating Dr. Spectrum. (Nighthawk allies with the Defenders and joins the team the following issue.)
After this defeat, Dr. Spectrum and his two remaining team mates are teleported off-world by Nebulon, returning with an energy-draining weapon. The Squadron Sinister plans to threaten the Earth again but are defeated once again by the Defenders and Yellowjacket (Hank Pym).
The Power Prism is kept by Yellowjacket, who decides to modify the gem and present it to his wife Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp). The Power Prism seizes control of the character and transforms her into a mind-controlled female Dr. Spectrum, who battles several Avengers but is then defeated by the Vision's use of the Prism's ultraviolet weakness (Spectrum's own arrogance meant that s/he assumed that Iron Man had kept that information to himself rather than sharing it with others and thus “giving up an advantage”).
The Power Prism bonds to the Wasp in an attempt to save itself, but is eventually removed by Billy Roberts after he is located by the Avengers. Roberts becomes Dr. Spectrum once more, although on this occasion the Power Prism is in control and seeks to bond with the most powerful Avenger, the Thunder God Thor. The Power Prism succeeds in doing so, but fails to take into account that to wield the mystic hammer Mjolnir, Thor must be "worthy." No longer worthy to wield the hammer, Thor drops Mjolnir and reverts back to his mortal alter-ego, Donald Blake, during a fight with Iron Man, which results in the Power Prism losing control and becoming inert, apparently forever.
Alice Nugent: The Grandmaster reappears and reforms the Squadron Sinister: an apparently resurrected Hyperion is joined by the Whizzer (now called Speed Demon); Nighthawk; and a new Dr. Spectrum (complete with a new Power Prism), Alice Nugent, former lab assistant of Hank Pym.
Courtesy of a phenomenon known as the Wellspring of Power -- an interdimensional source of superhuman abilities -- the Grandmaster increases the Squadron Sinister's powers and they battle the New Thunderbolts. Thunderbolts team leader Baron Zemo defeats the Grandmaster, and in the ensuing chaos Dr. Spectrum and the members of the Squadron Sinister scatter and escape.
I can imagine several cosmic adventures Doc Spectrum might have in the MarvelU., be it – er uh – by the brightness of day or the darkness of night! Come back, Alice!