Great Moments In Comic Book History: The Death of Doctor Druid

Dr. Druid never got much respect.

First introduced in 1961 and originally known as Dr. Droom (his name was changed to prevent anyone from mixing him up with Dr. Doom), Anthony Ludgate Druid was a magic user who hunted monsters and who had studied the mystic arts with a Tibetan lama.  Later, the lama was retconned into the Ancient One and it was said that Dr. Druid was the runner-up for the position of Sorcerer Supreme.  This was a way of acknowledging an obvious truth, that Dr. Druid was an unsuccessful dry run for Dr. Strange.

With Dr. Druid’s monster hunting activities never becoming popular with readers, he was eventually just used as a host for Weird Wonder Tales, a series that reprinted old monster comics from the 50s.  One look at Dr. Druid at this time shows why he was never able to seriously challenge Doctor Strange for the role of Marvel’s most popular sorcerer.

Eventually, Dr. Druid did enter the mainstream Marvel universe.  He joined the Avengers and distinguished himself by getting himself elected Avengers chairman while possessed by a villainous and then disbanding the team.  Even after Dr. Druid got his mind back, no one wanted much to do with him and he faded into obscurity.

He remained forgotten until 1995.  That was when he was resurrected for a series that lasted for four issues.  To this day, there’s debate over whether the series was meant to be a miniseries or a continuing series.  What everyone can agree on is that Warren Ellis radically challenged what everyone though they knew about Dr. Druid.

Now, heavily tattooed and simply calling himself Druid, the former hero was an embittered alcoholic who embraced the dark side of his powers.  For four issues, Druid roamed through London and killed almost everyone who he met.  Druid was a dark and brutal series and it’s probably not surprising that it only lasted four issues.

The final issue featured Druid doing his usual killing and destroying until, in the final pages of the issue, Daimon Hellstrom suddenly appeared and announced, to Druid: “You’re a lunatic, a religious maniac, a bad idea. You should have been stamped on at birth. And, in the end, you’re a failure.”  Hellstrom proceeded to burn Druid to a crisp and what I’ve always remembered about that issue were the final lines announcing that Druid’s corpse was left in a trash can.

When you’re a kid just reading a comic book, that’s some pretty heavy stuff!  Those last moments of Druid have always stuck with me.  I’ve always felt bad for Dr. Druid.  He went from being a failed Sorcerer Supreme to a failed Avenger to eventually getting tossed in a trash can.  He’s also one of the few Marvel characters not to return from the dead. He’s gone, never to return.  He probably won’t even get to appear in a movie.

Alas, poor Druid.  He was the Rodney Dangerfield of second-tier Marvel heroes.  He never got any respect.  No respect at all.

Druid (Vol. 1 #4, August, 1995)

“Sick of it All”

  • Writer — Warren Ellis
  • Penciler — Leonardo Manco
  • Inker– Leonardo Manco
  • Colourist — D’Ireali
  • Letterer — Jon Babcock
  • Cover Artist — Leonardo Manco

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe

The Austin Film Critics Association Has Announced Their Nominations!

moonlightThe Austin Film Critics Association announced their nominees for the best of 2016 earlier today!  So, let’s see what my fellow Texans selected:

Best Film:

Best Director:

Best Actor:

  • Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
  • Colin Farrell, The Lobster
  • Denzel Washington, Fences
  • Joel Edgerton, Loving
  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Best Actress:

  • Amy Adams, Arrival
  • Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie
  • Ruth Negga, Loving

Best Supporting Actor:

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women
  • Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
  • Min-hee Kim, The Handmaiden
  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
  • Viola Davis, Fences

Best Original Screenplay:

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Eric Heisserer, Arrival
  • Luke Davies, Lion
  • Park Chan-wook, Jeong Seo-kyeong, The Handmaiden
  • Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
  • Whit Stillman, Love & Friendship

Best Cinematography:

Best Score:

Best Foreign-Language Film:

  • The Brand New Testament
  • Elle
  • The Handmaiden
  • Things to Come
  • Toni Erdmann

Best Documentary:

  • 13th
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • O.J.: Made in America
  • Tower
  • Weiner

Best Animated Film:

Best First Film:

  • The Birth of a Nation
  • The Edge of Seventeen
  • Krisha
  • Swiss Army Man
  • The Witch

The Robert R. “Bobby” McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award:

Best Austin Film:

  • Loving (dir. Jeff Nichols)
  • Midnight Special (dir. Jeff Nichols)
  • Slash (dir. Clay Liford)
  • Tower (dir. Keith Maitland)
  • Transpecos (dir. Greg Kwedar)


The San Francisco Film Critics Also Love Moonlight!


The San Francisco Film Critics also announced their picks for the best of 2016 earlier today and guess what won?

That’s right — Moonlight!

Here’s a complete list of winners and nominees:




Damien Chazelle  – LA LA LAND
Barry Jenkins   – MOONLIGHT (Winner)
Kenneth Lonergan  – MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Jeff Nichols –  LOVING
Denis  Villeneuve  – ARRIVAL


Joel Edgerton – LOVING
Ryan Gosling – LA LA LAND
Tom Hanks – SULLY
Denzel Washington  – FENCES (Winner)


Amy Adams – ARRIVAL
Annette Bening – 20th CENTURY WOMEN
Isabelle Huppert  – ELLE (Winner)
Ruth Negga – LOVING
Natalie Portman – JACKIE


Mahershala Ali – MOONLIGHT (Winner)
Jeff Bridges  – HELL OR HIGH  WATER
Ralph Fiennes – A BIGGER SPLASH


Viola Davis – FENCES (Winner)
Greta Gerwig  – 20th CENTURY WOMEN
Lily Gladstone – CERTAIN WOMEN
Naomie Harris –  MOONLIGHT
Michelle Williams  – MANCHESTER BY THE SEA


HELL OR HIGH WATER  –  Taylor Sheridan
LA LA LAND  – Damien Chazelle
THE LOBSTER – Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA  – Kenneth Lonergan (Winner)
MOONLIGHT  – Barry Jenkins (Winner)


ARRIVAL – Eric Heisserer (Winner)
ELLE  –  David Birke
THE HANDMAIDEN  – Park Chan-wook and Jeong Seo-Gyeong
FENCES – August Wilson


ARRIVAL  – Bradford Young
JACKIE   –  Stephane Fontaine
LA LA LAND   – Linus Sandgren
MOONLIGHT  –  James Laxton (Winner)
SILENCE  –  Rodrigo Pietro


ARRIVAL  – Patrice Vermette
THE HANDMAIDEN  –  Ryu Seong-hee (Winner)
JACKIE   – Jean Rabasse
LA LA LAND –  David Wasco
THE WITCH  –  Craig Lathrop


ARRIVAL  –  Johann Johannsson
HELL OR HIGH WATER  – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
JACKIE   – Mica Levi (Winner)
LA LA LAND –  Justin Hurwitz
MOONLIGHT  – Nicholas Britell


ARRIVAL  –  Joe Walker (Winner)
HELL OR HIGH WATER  – Jake Roberts
LA LA LAND –  Tom Cross
MOONLIGHT  – Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon (Winner)








THE FITS (Winner)


Review: Iron Man 3 (dir. by Shane Black)


“You can take away my suits, you can take away my home, but there’s one thing you can never take away from me: I am Iron Man.” — Tony Stark


Iron Man 3 review by Leonard Wilson

That line above would make such a great send-off for what could be the final Iron Man film. In a perfect world, having Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 as the final one in the franchise wouldn’t be such a bad thing. This doesn’t mean that Iron Man will not appear in any future Marvel Studios endeavors, but as a solo franchise a series couldn’t have found a better way to fly into the Malibu sunset. I say this because in over 5 years Marvel Studios has created a trilogy that took a character in Tony Stark and put him through a character journey encompassing four major film releases and one cameo. They did so in such a way that we saw the character grow from a rich genius dilletante, to a desperate asshole trying to find his identity as Iron Man to finally realizing that he’s the hero with or without the Mark suits he’s has created.

Iron Man 3 is the culmination of what Jon Favreau began with Iron Man in 2008 and Joss Whedon expanded on in 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers. It took a writer of renown such as Shane Black (who also replaced Favreau as director) to get to the heart of what makes Iron Man ticks. It helped that the returning cast led by Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark and Iron Man once again did a great job in their roles with some characters even getting to do some surprising heroic stuff on the screen.


Iron Man 3 starts off with a flashback scene just hours before the arrival of the new millennium. This is just Tony Stark before he becomes Iron Man so we see the character in full charming asshole mode. This sequence is important in that it sets up the whole plot of the film and, in my opinion, the overall story for the entire trilogy. We’re introduced to the geeky Aldritch Killian (played with equal amounts of geeky desperation and overconfident megalomania by Guy Pearce) who sees in Stark the mentor he needs to get his think tank going. With only sex with brilliant scientist Maya Hansen (played by Rebecca Hall) on his mind Killian is soon forgotten and humiliated by Stark.

The rest of the film sees Tony Stark having to pay a steep price for his behavior towards Killian in that flashback and, in conjunction, with his days and nights haunted by the events in New York with the invading Chitauri invasion having given him a case of the PTSD the film looks to bring Tony Stark at his most vulnerable and lowest. It’s a return to the proverbial “Cave” for Tony Stark as he must contend not just with the elusive terrorist mastermind The Mandarin, but also solve the mystery of who or what’s causing the inexplicable explosions and bombings occurring around the nation. All this he must do through most of the film without the use of his Iron Man suits and relying mostly on his own genius intellect and skill with making weapons and gadgets out of anything readily available.

Speaking of The Mandarin (in an excellent performance by Sir Ben Kingsley), Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce made a controversial decision (for comic book fanboys at least) to make the iconic Iron Man villain more than he appears to be. It’s a decision that won’t sit well with the more vocal and rabid comic book fans who sees any deviation from Iron Man lore as an affront worth of loud, vociferous rabble, rabble, rabbling that would make Randy Marsh and the people of South Park proud.


To say that the twist in the story that explains who The Mandarin was such a surprise would be quite the understatement. The most important and iconic nemesis of Tony Stark comes out with both barrels of deliberate menace and sociopathic showmanship. We’re meant to see this character as the face of all the evils and troubles that has plagued Tony Stark since the first film. Kingsley plays this part of the character in the film to the hilt. Yet, it’s not until the second half of the film when we find out just who exactly The Mandarin really was and is that Black and Pearce finally put to rest whether the producers and writers would be able to handle a character that’s been seen as a racial caricature from a less than enlightened time.

Whatever howls and apoplectic ravings fanboys might be having about changing the traiditional character of The Mandarin into the pill-popping, drunk British wanna-be actor Trevor Slattery as a bait-and-switch was a brave move on the parts of Black and Pearce. To find out that The Mandarin was just a conjuration by Aldritch Killian to keep the eyes of the world’s governments and superheroes on someone else was very Bond-like. The fact that Killian himself is the true Mandarin and the Ten Rings terrorist organization his creation to have his revenge on Stark for humiliating him on the even of the new millennium closes the circle on what was begun all the way back in the first Iron Man.

This so-called “twist” was so unexpected (the internet scouring for any tidbits about the film’s plot having found nary a hint of this change) that it seemed like some sort of gimmick but as the film barreled on through the second half into it’s explosive conclusion one had to admire the massive stones by Black and Pearce to change such an iconic character knowing how it could easily alienate and anger fans of comic book. It’s this thinking outside the box by this franchise’s new director and screenwriter which makes me feel like Marvel Studios (especially studio head Kevin Feige) have their Phase 2 plan set to spring surprises on comic book and non-comic book fans alike as it marches on towards Avengers 2.

originalIron Man 3 was a definite improvement over the bloated second film in the series. It also manages to reach the high bar set by the first film, though as an origin story it still comes away as being the best of the trilogy, but not by much. There was much trepidation from fans of the film franchise when Favreau was replaced by Marvel Studios as director by one Shane Black. While Black was well-known for being a top-notch screenwriter who literally redefined the buddy cop genre his work as a filmmaker was just still only the suprise film Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. While this third film still had some holes in it’s plot that was explained rather conveniently by some brief bits of dialogue it still managed to tell a compelling story of actions and consequences and the discovery that our hero finally makes about just who is the hero of the saga: the man or the machine.

If there’s to be another film bearing the title of Iron Man I would surely hope that Feige and the powers-that-be over at Marvel Studios and Walt Disney just speed-dial Shane Black’s name and to also bring back his co-conspirator Drew Pearce. The franchise is well and good in their keeping. As the final moments of the end credits tick by we’re promised that Tony Stark will return. I sure hope so.

Trailer: Iron Man 3 (Super Bowl Exclusive)


Iron Man 3 will be the film from Walt Disney and Marvel Studios that will kick-off those studios’ Phase Two of their Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was the Galactus-sized success of 2012’s The Avengers which this newest phase will have to live up to and with new director on-board (Shane Black taking over the director’s chair from Jon Favreau) and the original cast back with new faces on-board (Sir Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce and James Badge Dale to name a few of the new names).

It’s now 2013 and just a few more months before Iron Man 3 makes it’s worldwide premiere and what better place to start the hype and marketing ad machine that will lead up to that premiere by releasing the latest trailer for the film than during one of the biggest one-day event in the world: the Super Bowl.

Iron Man 3 is set for an international release date of April 25, 2013 with a UK premiere in April 26, 2013 after then a North American release in May 3, 2013.

Without further ado the Super Bowl exclusive Iron Man 3.

Source: Joblo Movie Network

Shamanism: A Recurring Theme in Warren Ellis Fiction

A shaman is defined as a person who acts as intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, using magic to cure illness, foretell the future, control spiritual forces, etc.Mr. Ellis created/redesigned characters that functioned as shaman in his books (like Nate Grey in the Counter X series, the Doctor from Stormwatch/Authority, and Century Babies in Planetary).
Nate Grey functioned as intermediary between the 616 reality and parallel as lower and upper realities, and maintained a multiversal balance. Upper realities were virtual utopias like the Deva Realm from the 6 desire realms in Buddhism. The lower realities were hellish planes like the Preta and Naraku realms.
The Doctor (all iterations) and the Century Babies functioned as mediums for humanity and Gaia (the Earth itself) and maintained harmonic balance.

He also introduced ideas like:

“Down there are people called ayahuasqueros. Tribal doctors, mystics, medicine men. They take this stuff called ayahuasca, this awful mush they brew up out of vines and stuff. It’s a psychedelic. They hallucinate all over the place — but it’s their belief that the visions are actually another dimension. When you ask them why they take it, they say it’s for working with the ancestors. They’re necronauts. They travel in the place of the dead. And what they bring back are messages from the afterlife.”
– Sam Wilson (in Ultimate Nightmare)

“You are aware through esoteric scientific research conducted by many people over the Twentieth Century. that souls do not die. Souls are some form of electromagnetic field that continue to inhabit the body after death. Bones, crackling with strange and imperceptible energetic activity. And we buried them. Are they still aware? Can the dead still perceive we don’t yet know. Is that happens? We lay in the dirt, still somehow aware of being in there? And gravity draws us into the earth. And plants grow. Ayahuasca. Peyote. Psylocibin. Stropharia Cubensis. The drugs. Yes, historically, we consider them shamanic drugs, and they were overlaid with ritual and religion and the other crap of archaic societies. But all societies had their speakers to the dead and their oracles who looked into other places. In legend, the Oracle at Delphi stood at a pool and inhaled its vapor, the pneuma, to oraculate. It was recently found that a vent beneath the pool expressed ethylene, a hydrocarbon gas that creates an euphoric derangement, into the water. Ethylene, the pneuma, is a plant hormone. The dead lay in the ground, their souls oiling out from their bones, into the earth, into roots… that effervesced into the clouds that the oracle inhaled to see new worlds. Into the plants that our speakers to the dead ingested to do their business.
– Melanctha (in Planetary)

“You’re a machine. I’m a machine. Our parts are made out of water and meat and minerals, but we’re walking pieces of engineering. Everything’s a machine. Plants, everything. When we eat a plant, we disassemble it, junk what we don’t want and plug the parts we need into our machine. What if these jungle drugs are machines we can ride?”
– Sam Wilson (in Ultimate Nightmare)

His ideas lead me to look at shamanism, the soul, death and planes of existence, from a different angle. I would love to read an Ellis book where he jumps head first into this theme and runs wild with it in a similar manner to his Crooked Little Vein novel.

Images courtesy of Ben Templesmith and Freak Angels.Warren Ellis’ images courtesy of Warren Ellis’ Official Livejournal.