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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Below: The covers for the 4-issue Druid limited series, starring Doctor Druid.
It is true that Celtic Druidism and Tibetan lamaistic Buddhism are normally thought of has having nothing to do with each other. But these are indeed the subject of Doctor Druid's intense studies and the sources of his power.
Many years after the character was introduced and after his origin had been established, his origin was retconned slightly so that the Tibetan lama who trained him was in fact the Ancient One, the powerful master of mystic arts who trained Doctor Strange. The Ancient One is not typically thought of as a Tibetan Buddhist. The Ancient One is, instead, a practitioner of a generic style of mysticism that based on a number of influences, particularly including the perceptions early comic book artists and writers (including Steve Ditko) had of Tibetan mysticism. If one ignores earlier accounts of Doctor Druid's origin and accepts that his training came from the Ancient One (perhaps pretending to be an anonymous Tibetan lama), then the degree to which Doctor Druid's power and origin is associated with Tibetan Buddhism is certainly diminished.
When he was alive, at least in the later part of his career, Doctor Druid identified his religious affilation as Druidism. He considered himself a religious Druid and worshipped Druidic Celtic gods. Although he studied for many years under a Tibetan Buddhist lama, we are not aware that Doctor Druid ever identified himself as a Buddhist per se.
From: "Doctor Druid" page on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Druid; viewed 29 April 2007):
Doctor Druid, also known as Doctor Droom and Druid, is a fictional character, a supernatural monster-hunter in the Marvel Comics universe. He starred in his own continuing feature that debuted in Amazing Adventures Vol. 1, #1 (June 1961). Co-created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, he predates The Fantastic Four #1, establishing him as Marvel's first Silver Age superhero.
Doctor Druid's real name is Dr. Anthony Ludgate Druid, although he usually refers to himself as Dr. Anthony Druid for effect. He is a psychiatrist, as well as a minor telepath and magician, specializing mostly in hypnosis and other feats of mesmerism. He has minor magical abilities that have varied over the years. He is also an expert on the occult, having been trained by a Tibetan lama who'd come to the U.S. for medical attention (later retconned as the Ancient One, the same sorcerer who trained Doctor Strange). Ludgate was later revealed to be a distant descendant of the real-life Amergin the Druid...
Doctor Druid remained on the sidelines for years, but eventually joined the ranks of The Avengers after helping them defeat Baron Zemo's attack on Avengers Mansion... Due to his [later] actions as [a] villain's thrall, Druid was disgraced. He... later became leader of the Secret Defenders. In that role, he was once again victimized by a villain's mind control, this time by a demon named Slorioth...
Restyling himself as a straightforward magician called "Druid", he went insane, was betrayed by his allies, and was finally killed by Daimon Hellstrom, the putative Son of Satan, in the final issue of the four-issue Druid miniseries (May-Aug. 1995). Druid's ghost appeared later alongside the spirits of other dead ex-Avengers, confirming that Druid had in fact died this time. A memorial statue was later placed in the garden of the Avengers Mansion.
From: "Doctor Druid" page on official Marvel website (http://www.marvel.com/universe/Doctor_Druid; viewed 29 June 2007):
Anthony Druid got his medical degree from Harvard, then went on to study psychiatry. He retired from his psychiatric practice after several years to devote more time to his growing interest in the occult. He supported himself by writing popular books on psychology and related matters and by lecturing. In the midst of his research for a second book on the occult, Druid was summoned by an ailing Tibetan lama apparently in need of medical aid. The lama put Druid through a series of bizarre mystic and spiritual tests to ascertain Druid's worthiness. Finding him worthy, the dying lama opened Druid's mind to its hidden powers and taught him the mastery of certain mystic arts. (Apparently, the lama was actually the Ancient One, mentor of the Earth's Sorcerer Supreme. Druid was one of the Ancient One's first attempts at giving a disciple a degree of his powers.)
Druid had remained in seclusion for several years, investigating occult matters personally and in secret...
More recently, Druid embarked on an obsessive quest to augment his magical powers, one which eventually led to his pact with Druidic gods of Celtic lore. The gods performed a grisly spell on Druid, binding him to nature in such a way to allow him to control plants and earth around him. Druid tried to surround himself with loyal followers, including the villain Nekra, who nevertheless supported and seduced Druid. Nekra, however, later summoned her true lord, Hellstorm, the Son of Satan, who battled Druid. Hellstorm mocked Druid, killing him and tossing his burning body in a garbage can.
From: "Doctor Druid" page on "Marvel Directory" website (http://www.marveldirectory.com/individuals/d/drdruid.htm; viewed 25 April 2007):
Real Name: Anthony Druid
Occupation: Psychiatrist, occult expert
Anthony Druid got his medical degree from Harvard, then went on to study psychiatry. He retired from his psychiatric practice after several years to devote more time to his growing interest in the occult. He supported himself by writing popular books on psychology and related matters and by lecturing. In the midst of his research for a second book on the occult, Druid was summoned by an ailing Tibetan lama apparently in need of medical aid. The lama put Druid through a series of bizarre mystic and spiritual tests to ascertain Druid's worthiness. Finding him worthy, the dying lama opened Druid's mind to its hidden powers and taught him the mastery of certain mystic arts. He has thus become a practioner of the occult arts.
Druid had remained in seclusion for several years, investigating occult matters personally and in secret... later, Druid would find himself aiding the hero team Avengers against the Celtic monsters known as the Fomor.
...For a time, he led the occult adventurers called the Shock Troop and later served with the Secret Defenders as the team's puppet leader under the auspices of Doctor Strange...
Known Superhuman Powers:
Doctor Druid is a master of certain special disciplines of the mystical arts. His abilities are derived from two major sources: personal powers of the body and mind developed under the tutelage of the Tibetan lama, and the employment of the arcane lore of his Celtic forefathers. Because he does not manipulate ambient and extradimensional magical energy, Druid cannot be considered a sorcerer. His use of ritualistic Celtic Earth magic does qualify him as a mystic, however.
Doctor Druid possesses a number of yogic physical powers. He has control over the involuntary functions of his body, such as his heartbeat, respiration, bleeding, and reaction to pain. He has also developed certain mental powers generally classified as psionic (utilizing an unknown form of energy generated by the mind). Druid has great telepathic capacity, enabling him to broadcast and receive thoughts. He is able to scan virtually any mind or project his thoughts to anyone on Earth, provided he knows where to reach the mind he seeks. He also possesses the ability to mesmerize people to his will, controlling what they see, hear, or do. This mental domination is only possible over those minds who are less adept than his own. His control over a person (or persons) persists until such time as the subject completes the task he or she was given, until Druid willfully releases him or her, or until the effect of the hypnosis loses its potency (generally a matter of hours for most minds). By means of hypnosis, Druid is able to achieve a number of illusory effects: invisibility, power-bolts, transformation, sudden materialization, etc. He also has certain psychokinetic powers, enabling him to levitate objects at will. The maximum weight he can lift with his mind is equivalent to the weight he can lift with his body, approximately 300 pounds. He can even levitate himself off the ground while in meditation, but he does not have sufficient skill to use this levitation to fly to any real extent.
Possessing the racial memories of his Celtic ancestors, Doctor Druid employs the knowledge and skills of the ancient Druids after whom he was named. These skills are those of the natural or earth variety, employing candles, potions, mystic symbols, chants, runes, and other elaborate preparations. By such rituals, Druid is able to accomplish any number of specific magical feats, although the lengthy preparations required generally prohibit their more frequent use. Earth magic is designed to tap the inherent mystical energy in natural objects and materials, and is not as efficient as the tapping of the ambient mystical energy in the environment as a whole.
Druid's other ancestrally derived knowledge is that of astrology. By a mystic awareness of the stars' and planets' positions, Druid has limited precognitive insights as well as a sensitivity to the balance of mystic forces. He can sense the presence of recent use of all forms of magic (even those he cannot employ) and trace them to their source.
Limitations: Druid's Druidic powers have a special vulnerability to iron, as did that of his ancestors. Iron tends to act as a "lightning rod" for the magical forces he employs, sometimes disrupting its effects.
From: "Comic book character religions" forum discussion, started 29 November 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-94945.html; viewed 27 July 2007):
11-29-2005, 01:46 PM
I found this site via The Beat. It lists comic book characters and their religions.
11-29-2005, 03:16 PM
There are more on that list I would question: Gambit a Catholic? And Dr. Druid worshipped the Celtic gods in the Druid miniseries...
From: Doug Tonks, "A Higher Power", posted 22 October 2006 on "All New! All Different! Howling Curmudgeons: Two-Fisted Comics Commentary and Criticism!" blog website (http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009995.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
The never-identified but usually heeded "they" claim that there are two topics you should never talk about: religion and politics. But since Mike already brought up religion... I'll follow it up with a link to this page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the religious affiliations of various comic book characters...
Posted by Doug at October 22, 2006 7:12 PM
[Comments posted by readers of this page:]
...The entry for Dr. Druid is pretty comical too: "Tibetan Buddhism/lamaism; Celtic Druidism." Uh, aren't those mutually exclusive religions? And since when was Dr. Druid any kind of a Buddhist?...
Posted by: Ron Dingman at October 23, 2006 1:57 AM
I think the site is using a very general definition of religion to mean a comprehensive metaphysic and its consequent ideology, discipline, or practice, not necessarily "worship." Not many might seem like religion, but neither is Buddhism from a purely theistic perspective... If the ideology has an eschatology, then I'd say yes.
...However, I agree that many of their assessments are flat out wrong, and it is far too eclectic in its syncretic groupings. I would not place any of the myriad mystics of the Marvel Universe in a real religion, but simply the Ditkoesque Magic philosophy that appropriates some of the "feel" of Tibetan lamaism...
Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 23, 2006 2:18 PM
From: "Whose family attends what church?" forum discussion started 11 March 2007 on ComiCon website (http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=009521;p=0; viewed 15 May 2007):
posted 04-12-2007 10:16 AM
A few thoughts...
...Dr. Druid is Buddhist? Shouldn't he be Druid? I mean, not that he looks Druish, but...
From: "OT: Religious superteams" forum discussion, started 13 February 2007 on "Soap Operus" website (http://www.gossiping.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=167&view=previous&sid=98473f5c220e5dd12ab4c10df9d53477&mforum=so; viewed 29 June 2007):
Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:15 pm
Religious superteams: Your favorite superheroes, sorted by faith. [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]
Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:55 pm
That was kinda cool. People have written entire essays on the religious denominations of various super-powered folks...
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:32 am
I'll repeat my criticisms of this list as I've done every time it's posted...
Doctor Druid isn't a Buddhist, he worshipped the Celtic Gods...
[Editor of Adherents.com website responds to poster Dizzy D's comment: I am not sure why Dizzy D is so insistent in proclaiming that Doctor Druid is not a Buddhist. I agree that it seems strange that a character named Doctor Druid has his religious affilation classified as Tibetan Buddhism along with Druidism. But I didn't make up the character or his origin. This is how the character's origin was written. He became a powerful practioner of mystical arts by studying with a Tibetan Buddhist lama. And yet, he's a Druid. It doesn't make any real sense to me, either, but this is based on published comics and Marvel's official website. Having said that, I think Dizzy D makes a good point and I have updated this page considerably since reading his latest comments to reflect the fact that Doctor Druid is principally a Druid and only tangentially Buddhist in origin or training. I will a new "Legion of Druid Superhero" graphic. He will be the only person in the graphic, as he is the only Druid superhero we are aware of. I may remove Doctor Druid from the "Legion of Buddhist Superheroes" collage graphic.]