MEMBERSHIP: Smoke Generals, Nekra (according to Druid's speculations), Second Assembly (formerly), other unnamed cultists

PURPOSE: apparently maintaining the illusion of a reality the human mind can cope with on Earth

AFFILIATIONS: Second Assembly (formerly; splinter group); Hellstorm (possible associate; no textual evidence to connect the two. I took him as more of simply a concerned party -- keeping humanity alive is in his best interests.);
unknown connections to
Ropemaster Azuma, Miss Drugstore, and the "young, clever, magician"

ENEMIES: Druid (Anthony Ludgate, aka Dr. Druid), Second Assembly (they're working to end the Dry Academy's Worldspell after all...), Baby Icon, Redeyes

BASE of OPERATIONS: Tunguska, Siberia

FIRST APPEARANCE: Druid#1 (May, 1995)

POWERS/ABILITIES: The Smoke Generals apparently exist as severed rotting heads, suspended in clouds of nanotechnology. They apparently have magical powers sufficient to affect either the nature or perception of the world in every living being. Their great magical powers enable them to survive attacks of an otherwise devastating nature, such as a thermonuclear explosion. They also can apparently take human form and interact directly with humanity, however, in doing so, they also receive human limitations, and cannot access their power directly (based on Druid speculating that his human-seeming assailant was actually a General).

HISTORY: (Druid#3 (fb)) - When Mt. St. Helens erupted, the CIA discovered bodies disgorged from the volcano. These bodies were wrapped in platinum scrolls, scrolls detailing the history of the 'Smoke Generals. Allegedly, "the Generals came from the far future, where discovery of the world's true nature had led to world suicide. Apparently they were the ones who gave an order to flood the planet in ecological poisons. The chemicals destroyed most of the world's phytoplankton, thereby erasing the atmosphere's oxygen content."
(This could be interpreted as meaning that when the world died, it was the Generals that did it, and *then* they came back in time. If this were the case, their motivation would likely be to prevent humanity from dying in the same way. But if they came back and *then* killed the phytoplankton, what purpose would that serve, and what goal might they have in doing it?)

(It is hinted that the oceans themselves were destroyed -- presumably the origin of the name "Dry Academy.")

Somehow the Smoke Generals survived, possibly by reducing themselves to severed heads suspended in clouds of nanotechnology. Eventually they traveled back in time, presumably to sometime in the 20th century, where the Smoke Generals founded the Dry Academy, in which they cast (took over?) the "Worldspell." This spell altered perception of the world, so that mankind believed that existence had not changed. This allowed humanity to continue to thrive, as the "real" reality was now too horrific a place to bear. (It could be that the world was just naturally too horrific a place to bear).

The Dry Academy served the Smoke Generals. The Smoke Generals served mankind. They didn't have any religious hierarchy beyond that. Some members of the Academy couldn't stand this lack of higher beings to worship, and so at some point, a sect of the the Dry Academy split off to form the Second Assembly.

(Druid#1) - In the process of being empowered by the Celtic gods, Anthony Ludgate glimpsed a Smoke General in a vision of current mystical happenings, and then experienced a world where the phytoplankton were gone, a world that he would cause -- "the last druid's ultimate act of worship."' The Celtic gods didn't see this apocalypse as a bad thing, but as a place where life could be reborn wiser. He was force-fed the rotten debris of this world, which finished his rebirth as the Last Druid.

(Druid#1-3-BTS) - Anthony Ludgate accepted his true nature, drawing power from Lud and the other gods of the Druids. Sensing this change in power, Hellstorm reanimated Nekra to discover just how unstable Druid was. She was to defuse him if he proved dangerous. (Druid concluded Nekra was an agent of the Smoke Generals, without actual evidence -- she was under Hellstorm's orders.)

Nekra directed Druid to investigate the Second Assembly, which he did, and then he destroyed the Second Assembly. Between witnessing Druid's power and his disdain for what he saw as false gods, Nekra evaluated him to be a true threat. Knowing that Druid's geis (a taboo thing he must not do, upon pain of losing his powers) was to love witches, Nekra seduced Druid. Druid, however, did not know his own geis and so he...loved her, which resulted in him losing his newfound powers.

(Druid#4) - Druid, desperate to regain his power, slew one of his own followers,
Hemingway, and sacrificed him to his Druidic Gods. By this means, Druid regained his powers. One of the Smoke Generals took direct action, taking human form and going after Druid (Druid concluded it was a Smoke General simply because of the mystic smoke he was wrapped in, and also concluded Nekra was under their orders. I think it's more likely it was just a human mystic member of the Academy, rather than that the Smoke Generals can assume human form and also get human weaknesses). The Smoke General used a gun to shoot and kill Druid's two other followers, Baby Icon and Redeyes, before being destroyed by Druid.

Druid then marshaled his power and used it to draw power from Lud, the Sun God, to generate the heat of a thermonuclear explosion at the Dry Academy in Siberia. Druid had believed the Dry Academy to be liars and the Smoke Generals to be heretics, but when he seemingly destroyed the Smoke Generals, the Worldspell came to an end, and reality was replaced by a horrific existence of pus, maggots, and a lot of stuff way nastier. The Smoke Generals were only stunned by the attack, and they recovered shortly thereafter, restoring the Worldspell and its illusions. (It seemed to me, between the vision in the first issue and the impending end of the world sensed by the other mages, that Druid had been fated to cause humanity's death, but that some force's intervention, probably Hellstorm's, had prevented it.)

Hellstorm, however, decided that Druid was too powerful and too dangerous to be allowed to exist, and so he ended his existence.


COMMENTS: The Dry Academy was created by Warren Ellis (writer) and Leonardo Manco (artist).

Druid was a twisted series, levels above the work Ellis and Manco did on Hellstorm. You can debate whether the history, nature, and influence of the Dry Academy is true in the MU, but it's sort of a moot point., since probably about 10 people read it, and even less remember it. Don't let your children read these stories.
--My guess would be that the Dry Academy may be responsible for preventing some sort of mass insanity, which may be the natural state of humanity. Or perhaps their involvement is much less extensive as detailed in these issues, but they lashed out when attacked, causing the illusions which were seen as "true reality."
--Or it's just coo coo-crazy stuff, and don't worry about it.

If you like frickin' weirdo fruitcake tales of nastiness, this is the series for you. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Comments by Flank: Having read DRUID and HELLSTORM, as well as much of Warren's other writing, I can tell you that they're both inspired pieces of disturbing lunacy, but HELLSTORM is better constructed and has stronger storytelling, while DRUID is just plain toaster-****ed. Like Snood says, if Warren came back to Marvel and did a MAX title featuring Marvel's supernatural characters, I could die happy. (Personally, I'd kill to see him revamp Cloak and Dagger...)

Ropemaster Azuma, the 'clever' British magician and Ms. Drugstore were all mages used for dramatic effect, to build tension and a sense of 'major **** going down.' However, I'd imagine they were planned for future story arcs which never happened because the book was cancelled. They all seemed interesting. I wish we'd found out their stories...

Personally, I love the concepts of the Worldspell and the Dry Academy taken at face-value. It's like The Matrix written by H.P. Lovecraft. Perhaps the hideous nature of the world was caused by the wars of the Elder Gods, and Gaea cast the spell so that "normal" uncorrupted life could exist on earth. Perhaps it also disguises the true nature of the Elder Gods, explaining why such powerful creatures look like such retro losers. I really don't see why there'd be a problem reconciling it with the rest of Marvel continuity -- there's always the answer "it just never came up before." (Although I would connect them to the "cabal of aspirant human wrongness" from Warren's wonderful storyline in DR. STRANGE. They were a cult who were using magic to evolve themselves into forms that could not just live in a horribly damaged ecosystem, but thrive. Like the Second Assembly, they found some really gross things lovely.)

I'd surmise that the "comet" that fell in Tunguska around the turn of the century (which caused inexplicable effects leading some to believe it was made of antimatter) was actually the arrival of the Smoke Generals. I'd also surmise that the Worldspell was in effect long before they existed, or else humanity would never have come into existence. I believe they just took it over and reinforced it further.

The Tunguska explosion of 1908 remains a popular mystery, and is involved with several characters in the Marvel Universe.


Profile by Snood, updated/clarified further by Flank McLargehuge.

Profile updated/edited by Kyle Sims

There's nothing to confuse with any of these guys.

I can't begin to explain the Druid Gods. See the Celtic Gods for a brief, and incomplete introduction.

Miss Drugstore received her nickname at the university she attended because of her fascination with hallucinogens. Specifically, the way they free all the pieces of the personality we keep separated or repressed. Eventually she combined magic with the drugs, giving each piece of her personality its own body.

(Druid#1) - In the midst of visions shown to him by the Celtic gods during his empowerment, Druid saw a vision of the "nine million different facets of Miss Drugstore."

(Druid#4) - The "quiet one in the middle... who wants to die tonight" sensed death in the air, stemming from Druid's entanglement with the Dry Academy, and was comforted.
-Druid#1, 4





Ropemaster Azuma was a renegade practitioner of the honored Japanese art of rope bondage, kinbaku. He has applied magic and violence to kinbaku, allowing him to divine the future from the movement of blood on knots.


(Druid#1) - In the midst of visions shown to him by the Celtic gods during his empowerment, Druid saw a woman dangling upside down, her blood being used in divination.

(Druid#3) - In the Bondage Hall Azuma watches the movements of blood on a woman's corpse hung upside down from the ceiling, and divined the end of the world.
-Druid#1, 3


A 'young, clever magician' in London, England spoke to the spirits of the victims of the Black Plague, buried in a mass grave more than 300 years ago. To accomplish this he incised the symbols of the spell onto human bones, and then carefully hammered them into the surface of the pit in an arcane pattern.


(Druid#1) - In the midst of visions shown to him by the Celtic gods during his empowerment, Druid saw the carved bones sticking out of the ground.

(Druid#4) - The spirits of the plague pit told the magician that the world was about to end, and that a fellow Londoner (Ludgate) was responsible. They told the magician that they were making space for him in the pit.
-Druid#1, 4







Druid#1 (May, 1995) - Warren Ellis (writer), Leonardo Manco (art), Marie Javins (editor)
Druid#2 (June, 1995) - Warren Ellis (writer), Leonardo Manco (art), Marie Javins (editor)
Druid#3 (July, 1995) - Warren Ellis (writer), Leonardo Manco (art), Marie Javins (editor)
Druid#4 (August, 1995) - Warren Ellis (writer), Leonardo Manco (art), Marie Javins (editor)

First Posted: 07/25/2002
Last updated: 06/21/2004

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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