Avengers Spotlight #37
Issue(s): Avengers Spotlight #37
This one focuses on Dr. Druid, who was last seen floating in a time bubble with a woman calling herself Nebula. You'd think now would also have been a good time to address the confusion around Nebula, whose time bubble appearances were occuring at the same time she was appearing in other books where she professed no knowledge of that situation. But this issue makes no mention of that, except perhaps for this.
I wonder if no one thought it was a problem, since this one is obviously a time traveler, so her appearances here just take place at some future date. That's not the solution that is eventually settled upon, but it's not entirely unreasonable (if a bit of a weird thing to do to readers; we really didn't need two Nebulas running around, regardless of the reason). As i've done before, i'll just refer to the character as "Nebula" in this story, but you can check the Characters Appearing for the eventual explanation.
Anyway, the story is that both Nebula and Dr. Druid have forgotten who they really are. With help from Nebula, Dr. Druid recounts his origin.
Doing so restores memories to both of them. But Dr. Druid is still feeling the residual effects of whatever made him fall in love with Nebula.
Nebula then uses the knowledge she gained as a member of the Kang Council to take them both back in time, to 1961, before there were any super-heroes. Actually, she's just put a time bubble around Lincoln, Nebraska and brought it back to 1961, but she plans to expand it.
Nebula tries to eject Dr. Druid from the bubble, but instead he finds himself at the site of the Tibetan temple where he has to relive the events of his origin. And can you believe that is all the panel space devoted to the Gorlion? A Gorlion, people! Half-Gorilla! Half-Lion! In 1990, when some artists were using two page splashes to show someone talking on the phone, we're devoting less than two square inches to a Gorlion?!
Anyway, the big news is that instead of the mystic that he found on the end of his journey the first time, he finds the Ancient One. And he learns that it was the Ancient One all along, and that he was really a test run for Dr. Strange.
That's very meta: Dr. Druid (as Dr. Droom) literally was a test run for Dr. Strange. And there really shouldn't have been any reason for the Ancient One to have disguised himself the first time around. But if Dr. Druid is cool with this revelation, i guess i can be too.
One thing that's interesting is that this is still taking place in 1961, which means it's prior to the first publication of Dr. Strange. And yet the Ancient One is talking like he's already had Dr. Strange as a pupil ("he came to the same Himalayan lamasery..."), which suggests that Dr. Strange's origin and early appearances take place prior to publication date, which is how i've already placed them thanks to Marvel: The Lost Generation having come to the same conclusion.
Dr. Druid is then sent back to fight Nebula.
Just to close the loop on something, i showed earlier that Nebula said that she had many names. But it's the name "Nebula" that she wants people to know as she's throwing her time magic around.
Now that Dr. Druid is known to be a literal precursor to Dr. Strange, something has to be done to distinguish him. So Roy Thomas seizes on something from Dr. Druid's origin, where the old mystic (now the Ancient One) told him that he was summoned so that he could merge Druid's Celtic roots with the mysticism of the East. So now Dr. Druid is really highlighting the Celtic aspects.
This makes sense. He is Dr. Druid, after all.
Dr. Druid splits himself into three persons, young, middle-aged, and old, to fight Nebula.
And basically pulls a variation of that trick to stop her.
Nebula is tossed back in the timestream after that.
In the end, Dr. Druid retains the look of his younger self.
Note the hedging of bets by suggesting that the effect may eventually wear off.
Let's face it: unless you were reading Roger Stern's Avengers at exactly the right time during your formative years, you probably don't like Dr. Druid. But the one thing he had going for him in terms of not being a second rate Dr. Strange was the fact that he was kind of a schlumpy middle aged guy. Granted that probably guaranteed that he was never going to attract a mass fanbase. But it did distinguish him. Now he's literally a second rate Dr. Strange, in origin and in body. It's an obvious attempt at a revamp, and i get why they attempted it, but it's the wrong move. Better to get him home and clear away the baggage of having been mind controlled for so long and then set him up for use as a supporting character rather than trying to sell him as a potential lead feature (and yes, i know he eventually gets a 4 issue series written by Warren Ellis).
Still, i think this issue (and this Avengers Reborn theme in general) is a much better use of Avengers Spotlight than what's been done with it for the entirety of its run. I wish it had been able to continue along these lines.
Bob Hall is looking more like his usual self here instead of trying to replicate Rob Liefeld or whatever was going on in New Mutants #92.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
So THIS is why Doc Druid was looking younger (with hair!) in the later Infinity books. For the life of me, I didn't know where that had happened.
Posted by: Bill | May 27, 2015 4:10 PM
Annoying that one of the few male pattern baldness heroes, gets a mystic transplant.
Posted by: kveto | June 23, 2015 3:41 PM
I haven't read that story, but the summary doesn't endear me to it. It did manage to make Dr. Druid much more generic than he was in Stern's Avengers.
Of course, the damage to Druid has been done before that story, when - after Stern's Avengers run - the next writer (Simonson?) made Druid a pawn for Nebula...
Posted by: Piotr W | June 23, 2015 5:05 PM
I'm gonna be presumptuous here, but I don't think regular Stern readers liked Dr Druid much either. Even reading the Stern books, he kinda came across as a jerk...and not even in the "cool" way like Wolverine or Hawkeye or Guy Gardner or other "popular" rable-rousers. And yes looking like Super-Powered Fraiser Crane probably didn't help. I mean editorial-mandated it may be, but Simonson's reading of Druid wasn't really inaccurate.
Of course, given what I said about him, Druid being "ok" with being considered a "Dr Strange point-man" seems weird. It seems like he would be somewhat offended by that. I don't see him being that "chill."
Posted by: Jon Dubya | March 2, 2017 12:53 PM
@Jon- I think the point was that Druid's forgiveness of the Ancient One for using him was meant to show he had changed.
Posted by: Michael | March 2, 2017 7:53 PM
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