To help kick off our Halloween festivities around this blog, I figured I'd share my copy of the first appearance of a character that I get a chuckle out of from time to time....
I've had a long standing love for the the little niche of 1970s Marvel Comics that was inhabited by characters of a more horror and black magic bent since childhood, and while Brother Voodoo is a pretty cool character in concept, the final results on paper tended to be kinda....well....goofy, which has led the character to be the butt of several fanboys joke for years.
Brother Voodoo (Jericho Drumm) is a fictional, supernatural superhero in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writers Len Wein and Roy Thomas, and artists John Romita Sr., John Romita Jr., and Gene Colan, he first appeared in Strange Tales #169 (Sept. 1973).
Brother Voodoo starred in his own feature in the Marvel comic-book series Strange Tales #169-173 (Sept. 1973 - April 1974), and in a backup feature in the black-and-white horror-comics magazine Tales of the Zombie #6 (July 1974, in a story continuing from Strange Tales #173) and #10 (March 1975). He has gone to guest-star very sporadically in other Marvel series, into the 21st century.
Fictional character biography
Returning to his native Haïti (born in Port-au-Prince) after 12 years (originally nearly 20) of education and practice as a psychologist in the United States, Jericho Drumm discovers that his twin brother, Daniel, the local houngan, is dying, a victim of a voodoo sorcerer who claims to be possessed by the spirit of the serpent-god Damballah. Just before he dies, Da
niel makes his brother vow to visit Daniel's mentor, Papa Jambo. Jericho does, and becomes Jambo's student. After studying under the aged houngan for several weeks, Jericho gains a greater mastery of voodoo practices than his own brother, becoming a houngan in his own right. Papa Jambo then performs a rite that summons Daniel spirit from the dead and joins it with Jericho's own. Having fashioned a worthy successor, Papa Jambo dies.
Taking the name Brother Voodoo, Jericho challenges the priest, who goes by the sa
Damballah's snakes to turn on him and evidently destroying Damballah's cult. Brother Voodoo became Haïti's houngan supreme and champion, and establishes a sprawling mansion as a base of operations. He places the wangal in a safe, its combination known only to Brother Voodoo and his manservant Bambu.
Brother Voodoo encounters the scientist Baron Samedi and artificial zombies created
Brother Voodoo eventually succumbs to the lure of power that Damballah's wangal
represented. Upon Jericho's wearing it, the god Damballah takes over Daniel's soul, burns down the mansion and apparently slays Bambu. He travels to New York City to attempt to take over the mind and body of Earth's Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange, who eventually frees Brother Voodoo of Damballah's influence and re-confines the evil god to the wangal. He later becomes involved with the supernatural 'Howling Commandos" operation of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D
Powers and abilities
Brother Voodoo possesses numerous mystical and quasi-physical powers derived from the loa, the spirit-gods of voodoo. He can easily enter into a trance-like state in which he does not feel the heat from fire and his skin becomes impervious to burning. He can also control flame and lower life forms. Brother Voodoo can mystically create smoke accompanied by the
sound of drums. The smoke conceals his presence while he is able to see through it. He has the ability t
o command certain living things by a mystic sort of hypnotism, most effective over animals and plants. He can summon the loa to request transport for himself and others instantaneously if they deem it necessary to his mission.
Brother Voodoo can also summon the spirit of his brother Daniel Drumm from within his body, doubling his own strength. He can also send the spirit to possess another person's body and then has total control over their actions.
Brother Voodoo also has more mundane escapist talents, once entering Strange's building, not through magic, but through the chimney. He has extensive knowledge of voudoun (voodoo) thanks to training by Papa Jambo, as well as conventional medicine and psychology with an M.D. in psychology.
He wears a mystic medallion that serves as a focus of his powers and as a focus for his contact with his personal loas. He has, at times, employed conventional firearms.
Cartoonist Fred Hembeck has a particular fascination with Brother Voodoo. He regularly featured the character in the cartoons he drew each month in Marvel Age, generally depicting him as a lame character constantly trying (and failing) to get his own series. When Brother Voodoo finally got his own solo story in Marvel Super-Heroes vol. 3 #1, Hembeck drew it, in a serious art style very different from his cartooning.
In his cartoon in the final issue of Marvel Age, Hembeck claimed he had only begun mocking Brother Voodoo because he had the character confused with an "even lamer" Silver Age character, DC Comics' Brother Power the Geek.
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