Dredd or Not? You Be The Judge
As soon as this spaceborn character poked his pointy nose out of the Rigellian upheaval in Annihilation #1, I thought that here is an obscure Marvel Cosmic character that has not been featured yet in my Cosmic Book News column, What the D’ast? Nor is he one who is scheduled.
What the flark is the matter with me?!!
Aside from the fact that scribes Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning got to him before I did, there is not much material to research regarding the good Doctor Dredd; Roms 38-43 is it! Now do not judge (in-joke, get it?) me harshly, but this is what Captain Cosmic has gleaned from the dusty long boxes and wikis of the Byron-Computer.
From his first appearance in Rom #38, Doctor Dredd has been an original: a warlock and practitioner of magicks (right up my alley) but of the Dire Wraith variety. Dredd could manipulate dark sorcerous powers that derived their strength from the Black Sun of Wraithword. His eyes glared red when he utilized his magic.
Some of his feats of mysticism included bonding a human to empty Spaceknight armor and weaving in a spell to force the person to do his will. He could also instantly enthrall a human and shoot a spell that wrapped the victim in black tendrils and claws. He was able to cast a teleportation spell to travel around the world, carrying at least one other person.
Of course, as a Dire Wraith – an offshoot of the Skrulls – Doctor Dredd could also change his shape by mentally altering his bodily structure into any organic form, notably humans and a red fanged serpent. However, the good doc emitted a foul scent that was noticeable to Galadorians. He was susceptible to Rom’s Neutralizer, which would banish him to Limbo. He was also strong, withstanding the jet-powered punch of the hero called Torpedo and the destruction of Brandy Clark’s lab.
Dredd observed the transfer of light powers from Starshine’s spirit to Brandy Clark and recognized her desire to be closer to Rom. So he was sent by the Dire Wraiths to help her achieve her goal, yet also use her as a weapon against the revered Spaceknight.
In his first appearance, the villain confronts Brandy about her feelings for Rom, and she agrees to utilize his aid to facilitate the process to mystically merge her and the Starshine armor. Her fiancé, Steve Jackson, seeking to track her down, found her enthralled form hovering before the Starshine armor with Dredd manipulating his alien magic to bind the two together. The doctor then menacingly turned his attentions to Steve!
Doctor Dredd held Steve captive and explained, in the true Marvel manner, what was happening to Brandy. Steve helplessly watched as the twain were merged, girl and armor, Suddenly, Torpedo smashed through to confront the warlock. Dredd admitted that even though his Dire Wraith sisters had usurped sorcery for themselves, he was in fact a practicing warlock, a singular being. Combat ensued, but Dredd was rescued by the ensorcelled Starshine.
At the doctor’s behest, Starshine wrecks havoc around the locale of the strip -- Clairton, West Virginia-- and then Dredd and Brandy/Starshine vanish, teleporting to locate Rom.
Meanwhile, seeking the aid of Doctor Strange, Rom locates a new infestation of Dire Wraiths in the Khystym Region of the Soviet Union (1983, ladies and gents) and traveled there, only to be confronted by Quasimodo the Living Computer wherein Quasi is able to take possession of Rom’s vaunted armor!
In order to keep the Dire Wraiths from taking the Spaceknight armor away from him, Quasimodo utilizes Rom’s Neutralizer. Just then, Doctor Dredd and Starshine appear and attack Rom’s armor with murderous intent, neither realizing it is the Living Computer within and not Rom. Quasimodo flees, pursued by Starshine, who passes the rapidly-decaying human form of Rom. As Dredd passes the “human,” Rom recognizes Wraith stench and grabs Dredd by the throat.
An enraged Rom learns what’s been up with Brandy and Clairton and strangles the warlock, who morphs into a serpent but with little effect. As he “died,” Doctor Dredd returned to his Wraith form before crumbling to ash.
Another marvel resurrection or was Doctor Dredd’s “death” an ancient mystic illusion? Stay tuned to DnA’s sensational new space opus unfolding monthly in The Annihilators limited series and maybe we’ll find out!
Annihilators #2 hits stores April 6th!