One of the main objectives with this series of articles is to shine light on black superheroes that don’t really get talked about. Case-in-point would be today’s subject who was created around the same time as other well-known black Heroes like Luke Cage and Black Lightning but has never gotten that same level of recognition.
Like Blade, this character is a combination of two budding genres in the 70’s –the blaxploitation hero and the horror/supernatural comic revival. So, the introduction of a black voodoo-using superhero was a natural fit for the time frame: Brother Voodoo, The Lord Of The Loa!
Creating Brother Voodoo
The legendary Stan Lee pitched the idea of a heroic practitioner of voodoo as a black counterpart to Doctor Strange. Marvel’s editor-in-chief at the time, Roy Thomas, originally suggested naming the character “Doctor Voodoo” as a play-off of the Sorcerer Supreme. Lee, however, rebounded that with the suggestion “Brother Voodoo” since the character was to be a black man.
The character’s debut was assigned to writer Len Wein (creator of Wolverine and Swamp Thing) and Marvel’s art director, John Romita Sr., who did most of the costume design. Wein recounted the creation process in an interview, “We talked about the sense of the character. I designed the ‘V’ in the circle on the forehead in John’s office.”
Brother Voodoo starred in his own feature in the series Strange Tales from Sept. 1973 to April 1974 and was a backup feature in the black-and-white horror-comics magazine Tales of the Zombie. He has gone to guest-star every once in while in other Marvel series well into the 21st century including his own brief title Doctor Voodoo: Avenger Of The Supernatural.
The Beginning of an Urban Legend
The legacy of Brother Voodoo started in the 17th century when a former slave named Laurent gained the power of the Loa. Empowered by the Voodoo god Legba with assistance from the earth goddess Gaea, Laurent used a spell to bind the spirit of his dead twin brother Alexandre to his own soul, transforming him into the Lord of the Loa to oppose zombies.
The Modern Era
The current Brother Voodoo, Dr. Jericho Drumm, grew up in Haiti (along with his twin brother Daniel) immersed in the legends of the occult. While his Daniel embraced the local Voodoo legends, Jericho rejected them and eventually journeyed to the U.S.A. Jericho became a rich psychologist while Daniel inherited the title of Brother Voodoo, the houngan protector of the people.
Twelve years later, Jericho came back home to see his dying brother, who had been struck down by a Zobop (a false god) claiming to be Damballah, the Snake Spirit of Voodoo. Jericho initially gives in to his rage and confronts the Zobop, who almost kills him. On his death-bed, Daniel asks his brother to study under local medicine man Papa Jambo and take his place as Brother Voodoo.
After a search in the woods, Papa Jambo tutors Jericho in the ancient ways of their people over the course of a few weeks. This training culminates in a ceremony in which the spirit of his brother Daniel is bound together with Jericho (like the original Brother Voodoo Laurent). Having found a truly worthy successor, Papa Jambo allowed himself to die after proclaiming Jericho as the new Brother Voodoo.
As Brother Voodoo, Jericho confronts the fake Damballah and defeats him by tearing off the wangal (a magic amulet) that gave him his powers. This resulted in the villain to be killed by his own serpents. The Zobop’s former servant Bambu swears allegiance to Jericho, recognizing him as the true Lord of the Loa. After this victory, Brother Voodoo establishes a sprawling mansion as a base of operations and begins as Haiti’s Houngan Supreme.
Brother Voodoo would go on to have encounters with the likes of the voodoo scientist Baron Samedi, Black Talon, Mama Limbo, and the fiendish Count Dracula. Brother Voodoo would also have team ups with other Marvel superheroes, including Spider-Man and Werewolf By Night.
The Power of Voodoo
Like Doctor Strange, Brother Voodoo is the undisputed master of Voodoo Magic on Earth. As the world’s foremost Houngan (a high priest of the religion of Voodoo), he uses this form of magic in a variety of ways:
- Pyrokinesis: By willing himself into a trance, Jericho becomes immune to fire. While entranced, his body will not burn and he does not feel the heat. While Jericho cannot create fire, he can control fire (like turning a match fire into a raging inferno).
- Smoke Manipulation: As a tool of intimidation, Voodoo can create a form of smoke that conceal his movements. Jericho can see through the smoke he forms as clear as day. This smoke is accompanied by the constant sound of voodoo drums (this is meant to disorient or unnerve his enemies).
- Hypnosis: Brother Voodoo can use a form of hypnotism. This power is not very effective on humans (the more intelligent a being is the more strongly they can resist). However, it works very well on animals like dogs, rats and snakes. It can also be used on plants and vegetation, like Swamp Thing or Poison Ivy. (His main limitations for this power are that the subject must be alive and he can only use it on one being at a time).
- Spirit Possession: Jericho’s most unique power is his ability to call upon his dead brother Daniel Drumm’s spirit.
Daniel is used in two primary ways:
- Daniel’s spirit can enter Jericho’s body to augment him physically, doubling his strength level in the process.
- Daniel’s spirit can be used to possess another being. The possessed person becomes a virtual slave as long as he or she is alive or does not already have another foreign spirit within their body. When Daniel’s spirit leaves the body, the person affected experiences the side effect of nausea and disorientation.
The New Sorcerer Supreme: DOCTOR VOODOO
For a brief period, Jericho replaced Doctor Strange as The Sorcerer Supreme in The New Avengers #53 (July 2009).
This storyline has the spirit of Agamotto appeared to Jericho through his Eye. Agamotto reveals that The Eye has left Strange and Jericho is one of thirty-candidates who would possibly replace Strange. The Eye chooses Jericho due to his pure heart and clean soul. Possessing the Eye, along with Strange’s former garb, Drumm became the new Sorcerer Supreme of this dimension.
Jericho eventually battles Agamotto itself to prevent it from retrieving the Eye and gaining the power to rule Earth’s dimension. To stop this from happening, Jericho sacrifices himself in an explosion he engineers to destroy both Agamotto and the Eye.
During the AXIS storyline, Doctor Doom makes a Faustian deal to resurrect Brother Voodoo. The reason: Doom believes that Jericho and Daniel can stop the insane Scarlet Witch from destroying Latveria. Jericho uses the spirit of Daniel Drumm to possesses Wanda so that she can be used to undo the spell against both the heroes and villains.
in recent years, Jericho has been used as a supporting character in the comic Strange Academy as an instructor at Doctor Strange’s school of young sorcerers. He has also been seen as a member of the Savage Avengers alongside deadly anti-heroes like Venom, The Punisher, Wolverine, Elektra, and Conan The Barbarian.
- The SyFy Channel announced they was developing a live-action TV movie and backdoor pilot for the character of Brother Voodoo in 2003. To be set in New Orleans, the project was eventually abandoned as nothing further came in terms of development.
- In the 2016 Marvel Cinematic Universe film Doctor Strange, Daniel Drumm (played by Mark Anthony Brighton) is seen as a Master of the Mystic Arts of Kamar-Taj . Drumm was the initial protector and resident of the New York Sanctum Sanctorum . However, a former Masters of the Mystic Arts named Kaecilius targeted the Sanctorum and Drumm was defeated and decapitated. In the aftermath, Drumm’s body was brought back to Kamar-Taj and Doctor Strange became the new guardian of the New York Sanctum.
- The death of Daniel Drumm in 2016’s Doctor Strange directly set up an appearance by Brother Voodoo which has been confirmed in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, no casting news has been announced at the time of this article.