Who Is Marvel’s Worst Avenger and Why Does Everyone Hate Him So Much?

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Today, we look at Doctor Druid’s claim to fame as being the worst member of the Avengers.

This is a feature called “Beg Steal or Borrow,” which is about when comic book characters are abruptly pulled from one book to another. I’m not talking about when comic book characters simply migrate from one title to another. I mean examples where a writer has a character taken out of the book against their wishes. It almost always happens in team books, but sometimes it occurs in solo titles, as well.

Recently, due to Jack Duquesne being a regular character on the hit Hawkeye TV series on Disney+, I have been doing a number of articles about his comic book counterpart, Jacques Duquesne, the Swordsman. These articles spotlighted stuff like how he joined the Avengers under pretty gross circumstances “Think ‘Make me your leader or I’ll kill Captain America!'” And then when he finally joined the team for real, he died almost right away and under circumstances that led to the comic book itself calling him a big loser. And then, after he DIED, he was then possessed by a plant alien and married one of his teammates! And then his human side corrupted the pacifistic plant alien and almost led to the destruction of all human life on Earth! Soo…yeah, he has quite the claim for being known as “the Worst Avenger.” However, a number of readers have taken issue with the term as they think that there is another Avenger who should qualify, the guy who directly led to the first time that the Avengers just outright broke up for a few issues. That guy? Doctor Druid.

RELATED: Avengers: Black Widow and Hawkeye’s Break Up Never Made ANY Sense

In 1976, in Weird Wonder Tales #19 Marvel (presumably Editor-in-Chief Archie Goodwin and Roger Stern, editor of Weird Wonder Tales) cleverly decided to revamp the short-lived Doctor Droom character that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko had introduced back in 1961 (he had a few adventures before going into comic book limbo and then Doctor Strange debuted a couple of years later and became the main Marvel Universe magician hero). Goodwin and Stern revamped Droom as Doctor Druid, to remove the “Doctor Doom” sounding name and also removing the whole sketchy racial aspect of the character where the character gained magical powers by being transformed into an Asian man…

Once he was re-established as Doctor Druid, Druid popped up here and there in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including helping the Avengers out during a two-issue fill-in storyline by Steven Grant

During the “Under Siege” storyline, the Masters of Evil took control of Avengers Mansion and held Captain America and Black Knight hostage as they tortured them (and made the two heroes watch the Masters of Evil torture the beloved Avengers butler, Jarvis). Black Knight has a mental connection to his sword, the Ebony Blade, and he was trying to call it in Avengers #276 (by Roger Stern, John Buscema and Tom Palmer) and while he was doing so, he made contact with Doctor Druid, who was a mentalist…

Druid headed over to Avengers Mansion and tried to help out as best as he could…

His biggest impact was when he broke the mental hold that Baron Zemo had over the powerful Blackout, who was responsible for surrounding the mansion in an almost impenetrable force field (and he also served as Zemo’s ace in his sleeve against the Avengers’ most powerful member, Captain Marvel)…

When Wasp and the freed Avengers met Druid, they were shocked at him being there, since no one asked him for help, but they were obviously glad to have it…

Druid quickly joined the team and began to subtly influence people, like guiding Wasp to deciding that she should resign as the leader of the team (it is possible that he legitimately thought that he was helping her here)…

In the next issue, Druid used his mentalist powers to pull a prank on She-Hulk and it became clear that he was not going to be everyone’s favorite teammate (and obviously, in general, he was an odd fit on the Avengers, being a middle-aged man who was not in the best of shape)…

Roger Stern explained that he saw Druid as being the Major Winchester of the group. Winchester was a jerkish character on M*A*SH who was also someone you could always rely on in a crisis…

I always intended Druid to be the Charles Emerson Winchester of the group…pulling his own weight on the team, but often getting on other members’ nerves. He was supposed to fill the group’s Pain-in-the-Ass Quotient, much as Hawkeye had done once-upon-a-time…in a very different way, of course. Druid was the erudite wise-ass, as opposed to Hawkeye’s lovable butt-head.

But once I was fired, things got very strange.

RELATED: The Squadron Supreme Hero Who Wasn’t Enough of a DC Pastiche For the Team

Well, as Stern noted, things got strange. Walter Simonson was hired and his editorial orders were to break up the Avengers. And he did so through the use of Druid, who began to be visited by a mysterious woman in his dreams beginning in Avengers #291…

He constantly had conflict with Captain Marvel, the leader at the time, and his dreams of impending doom caused him to be an even bigger jerk to her than he normally was…

The dreams continued and they got more intense, even causing him to daydream in the middle of Avengers missions, like in Avengers #292…

The woman (who turned out to be the villain known as the Terminatrix, but at the time, she was going by the name Nebula) kept manipulating Druid, pumping up his ego in his dreams…

She had him decide that he needed to take over as the leader of the Avengers from the injured Captain Marvel…

He then used his powers to make Captain Marvel back him as her replacement, despite everyone there knowing she hated him…

His powers failed with Thor, but he was able to get She-Hulk and Black Knight to back him and he was now the Avengers leader as of Avengers #294…

However, Terminatrix/Nebula knew that Thor was going to be a problem, so she arranged for him to be killed off and Druid was not supposed to let She-Hulk or Black Knight go to rescue him….

It is hilarious to see how even the Terminatrix thought that Druid was a pain in the butt…

In the next issue, Thor (who survived the assassination attempt) and Black Knight headed back to the Avengers base to deal with Druid, but he had a new plan to take over the Avengers…

Yep, he was just going to mind control them!

And somehow, it was able to work and he had the Avengers now under his thrall, which meant that the Terminatrix had them under her thrall.

Finally, though, in Avengers #297, the heroes broke free of the mind control and Terminatrix was seemingly killed, with Druid chasing after her…

She-Hulk was so disgusted over the mind control that she quit the team…

Thor and Black Knight had a mission to go on and so, for a while, there literally was no Avengers…

Luckily, Thor eventually returned just as Steve Rogers (then known as The Captain) was in the midst of reforming the Avengers. So Druid didn’t do LASTING damage, but he did do some damage.

Roy Thomas later brought Druid back and revamped him, allowing him for a modicum of redemption. Warren Ellis then had Druid killed off as the shock ending of a miniseries starring Druid where the hero embraced his druidic roots.

If anyone else has a suggestion for an example of a comic book character being taken from a series, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

KEEP READING: When the New Titans Lost Nightwing to the Batman Comics Line

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