We’re all familiar with Marvel’s resident Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange, but Stephen Strange was far from the first magically gifted doctor/sorcerer to grace the pages of Marvel comics. In fact, a certain forgotten “doctor” preceded him by 2 years. This is the story of Dr. Druid, or as he was known as back in 1961, Dr. Droom.
*First appearance: Amazing Adventures #1 (June 1961)
Dr. Droom: Sorcerer Supreme?
Dr. Droom originally appeared way back in Amazing Adventures #1 (June 1961), a whole 5 months before Fantastic Four #1 changed the landscape of comic books forever. Dr. Anthony Ludgate was a graduate from Harvard with a psychology degree who developed an interest in the occult. He was contacted by a sick Tibetan Lama, who was actually the Ancient One searching for a successor as “Sorcerer Supreme.” Though the Ancient One did endow Druid with some magical powers, the good doctor would disappear into obscurity soon after, and Dr. Strange would instead take center stage.
From Creation to Inspiration
Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Dr. Droom served as somewhat of a rough draft for the eventual Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange. In an interview from 2011 in Alter Ego #104, Lee had this to say of the character: “I always liked [Doctor Droom], but I forgot about him. It was a one-shot thing. And one day while we were trying to think of some new heroes, I thought I’d like to bring back a magician. And I gave him the name Doctor Strange.”
Dr. Droom is Reintroduced as Dr. Druid
The character disappeared for several years, before being re-introduced to Marvel comics readers as Dr. Druid. He made several guest appearances in books such as The Incredible Hulk, Ghost Rider, and most notably the Avengers. In his first appearance as Dr. Druid, he helped the Hulk battle against Maha Yogi.
Retaking Avengers Mansion & Joining the Team
Starting in Avengers #276, Druid played a pivotal role in helping the Avengers defeat the Masters of Evil and retake Avengers Mansion. Druid used his psychic powers to break Baron Zemo’s mental control of Blackout, which turned the tide of the battle. For his role in retaking the mansion, Druid was given full membership on the team, becoming a mainstay for almost two years.
Betrayal & Banishment to Limbo
However, Druid’s time in the spotlight was severely threatened when he was forced by Terminatrix (disguised as Nebula) to mentally manipulate the other Avengers into making him Chairman. After Terminatrix was cast into Limbo, Druid was forced to follow her, as he was still under her control. This attempted takeover of the Avengers almost destroyed the team entirely, and several members stepped down out of guilt, or due to other obligations.
Re-emergence & Death
Dr. Druid eventually escaped Limbo and regained control of himself. He later took part in the Infinity War at the behest of Dr. Strange, joining with several other users of the mystic arts. Dr. Strange then put Druid in charge of the Secret Defenders for a time.
Eventually, Druid finally received his own mini-series entitled “Druid.” The mature content of the series was very dark, and brought Dr. Druid into direct conflict with Daimon Hellstrom, who was the undisputed ruler of Hell at that point. Eventually, Druid’s lust for power got the better of him, and Hellstrom killed him.
Though Druid would appear in sporadic comic issues following his death, it has always been in the form of an undead version or ghost of his former self. This makes Dr. Druid one of the few comic book characters whose death has remained permanent for over a decade.
The Legacy of Dr. Druid
The legacy of Dr. Druid is an interesting one. The character will always remain in the shadow of Dr. Strange despite preceding him by a few years. Stan Lee’s admittance that he forgot about the character before creating Dr. Strange speaks volumes of that. However, Dr. Druid did have a decent run as a member of the Avengers in the 80s, even if it isn’t one that’s remembered particularly fondly.
Druid is not totally forgotten though. The Avengers did place a memorial statue of him in the garden of their mansion following his death. He was also briefly “resurrected” during the Chaos War. His son, Sebastion Druid, was also recruited by Nick Fury for his Secret Warriors in order to fight back against the Skrull infiltration during the Secret Invasion storyline.