Friday, October 9, 2015

Marvel Horror - Brother Voodoo!


Without doubt the original horror star Marvel developed in the 70's which has best stood the test of time is Brother Voodoo, and who saw that coming! Designed and published in the revived Strange Tales this alternative sorceror bursts onto the scene at a time when "zombies" were still banned in the four-color world of comics and instead made his bones fighting with and against "zuevembies", an overwrought term if ever one existed.


Much ballyhooed, Brother Voodoo actually lives up to his name as his might is the combined with his brother.


The story is not all that dissimilar from that of Stephen Strange who preceded Brother Voodoo in the pages of Strange Tales, in that a renowned doctor confident of his scientific worldview is drawn into a foreign territory where he learns that magic is real and that he himself is destined to become a practioner of same. In this instance Jericho Drumm learns that his twin brother Daniel had been Brother Voodoo before him and on Daniel's death Jericho assumes the role reluctantly but is fortified when Daniel's spirit inhabits him doubling his might and bequeathing a keen understanding of the vagaries of voodoo practice.


Jericho swiftly finds himself battling another sorcerer who killed Daniel and seeks his power and defeats him, ultimately using his own serpents against him.


Next Brother Voodoo battles against "zuevembies" as they rise up under the leadership of Baron Samedi. Those "zeuvembies" turn out though to be created by technology and Samedi something else all together.


In the very next issue Jericho battles a cult who worship the "Dark Lord". It begins when he rescues Loralee Tate from a rive and she reveals how she fell in with the cult against her wishes. This is a story of betrayal and secrets as Brother Voodoo falls under the scrutiny of Loralee's father Samuel Tate, the local chief of detectives. The artwork by Colan with some Dick Giordano inks is exceedingly handsome.


Brother Voodoo's arch enemy (if he ever had one) shows up. Black Talon (in all his rooster glory) later goes on to make an Avengers appearance but here is a the oddly dressed leader of the Dark Lord's cult. He reveals himself in all his glory as the series comes to a close in the pages of Strange Tales.


But it doesn't end as the Brother Voodoo storyline switches over to the exceedinly appropriate Tales of the Zombie magazine to wrap up the battle against Black Talon and the Dark Lord's minions.


 Later he takes on the menace of zombie lord Papa Jambo who is scaring a poor child. Tony DeZuniga shows he's an artist who can handle the mood such a character and mood requires.


Brother Voodoo's initial run was a relatively brief one, but he did manage to squeeze in a team up with Spider-Man as they take on the deadly Moondog.


Brother Voodoo is a series rich with atmosphere, thanks in no small part to the vivid pencils of Gene Colan who draws all but a few of the stories here. The others are handled by Tony DeZuniga who does a bang up job and Jim Mooney who has the undesirable task of bringing the Web-Slinger into Voodoo's world, a decidedly oddball mashup.


Brother Voodoo was memorable though and lingered around the Marvel Universe, mostly remembered by fan artist Fred Hembeck. In recent years he's become a key part of the Avengers believe it or not. I no longer follow Marvel but it seems he's become the "Sorcerer Supreme" these days, a job once held by Dr.Strange. Nice promotion for a failed horror character who didn't even rate shoes.



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4 comments:

  1. I always thought it was brilliant of Marvel to revive Strange Tales 5 years (?) after it’s cancellation – and then to pick up with the original numbering as well…I agree on the Colan artwork. It really helped to give this series an aura of mystical class: AIM-created zuevembies and all…

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    1. Colan's work really gave a sense of reality to a character who drawn by the wrong hand looked mildly ludicrous.

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  2. Moondog looks in pretty good shape for someone who would've been well into his sixties when this was published.

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    1. I had to look that up to get the joke. But I learned a great deal.

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