Jul 6 2011 4:00pm

Reader’s Guide to the New DC Universe: Voodoo

Each weekday, Tim will take a look at what we know about each of the upcoming 52 new comics from the September DC relaunch, one series at a time. Today: VOODOO!

The Concept and Characters: Voodoo, an “exotic dancer” turned alien-sniffin’ superhero, was a member of DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.s. team — his first work for Image Comics when he left Marvel and headed for the hills of ownership and journeyed down the road toward incorporation. I followed Jim Lee’s career from Marvel to Image and beyond, so I’ve read almost all of the WildC.A.T.s comic ever published, even though most of them have been terrible. And I can tell you this: Voodoo isn’t a character with any substance. There can’t be more than a handful of people in the entire world clamoring for her return to comics, and those people probably just like some costume design she once wore. She’s just a physical form with a few kind-of-useless magical powers.

So she’s a strange choice for a solo series, as part of the New DC relaunch.

That makes me think that either Ron Marz had an extraordinarily interesting pitch for the character, or Jim Lee just wanted some of his old toys to come out of the toybox for a little while, regardless of how dusty and impractical they were. It could be a combination of both.

Marz does seem to have an interesting take on the character (though it remains to be seen if it would qualify as “extraordinarily interesting” or just “eh, it’s interesting enough”), where Voodoo will act as a set of fresh eyes through which readers can experience the vast world that is the New DCU. She will clearly have to operate under a different set of rules than she did before — as part of Image, and, later, Wildstorm Comics, Voodoo was not part of DC continuity at all, and everything about her was closely linked to the rest of her WildC.A.T.s teammates, as they fought alien threats and then more mundane villains. This revamped Voodoo might echo some of the superficial details of the original character, but, as I mentioned, there wasn’t a whole lot of substance to the Image/Wildstorm version anyway.

The Creative Team: Writer Ron Marz has been away from DC for a long time. He created Kyle Rayner, the Green Lantern that almost anyone between the ages of 22 and 35 considers “the REAL Green Lantern,” and produced a substantial body of work for Marvel and DC before moving on to work for Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow Productions, where he has written a revamped Witchblade for almost a decade. He has plenty of experience with new versions of old characters, and he’s skilled at making comics with extensive histories feel “new reader friendly,” which is exactly what DC seems to be aiming for.

Sami Basri provides the art, and though he hasn’t had a breakout hit in the comic book industry, he’s very good. He’s worked with Marz at Top Cow in the past, but his most recent work has been on Judd Winick’s Power Girl, which has been worth looking at, just to see what Basri does on the page. Yes, Basri has a tendency toward cheesecake, and that could potentially undermine what Marz has planned for this series (unless he goes back-to-basics with the “exotic dancer” part of Voodoo’s past), but he’s also a good, clear storyteller with a distinctive, appealing style.

Recommendation: Wait for the collection. Marz is a veteran writer who knows how to craft a story and provide genuine characterization in a genre where such a thing is often lacking. Basri is a strong artist who can tell a compelling story, visually. But Marz’s stories usually work better in the long form, and his narrative style fits the collected edition better than the single issue. I suspect this series will make a nice, comforting, maybe even thrilling, read as a trade paperback. But I wouldn’t feel compelled to pick it up, issue by issue.

Tim Callahan writes about comics for, Comic Book Resources, Back Issue magazine, and his own Geniusboy Firemelon blog.

Dave Thompson
1. DKT
Voodoo? Seriously? Wow, of all the WildC.A.T.s, I definitely would've guessed Grifter, or maybe Zealot or Savant. I'm still bummed Grant Morrison never wrote another WildC.A.T.s issue.

Huh. Now I want to go reread the WildC.A.T.s books that I have. They weren't great, but they almost always looked cool.
Ray Radlein
2. RayRadlein
Didn't Alan Moore take a crack at Voodoo for a limited series once? Surely that must have been interesting.
Kevin Maroney
3. womzilla
Ray, the first two issues of Moore's Voodoo were, indeed, really good--a sort of warm-up to Promethea, and better than most of his Image/Awesome superhero work--which is not damning with faint praise, since I loved his run on WildC.A.Ts* and liked a lot of the rest. But Voodoo strangely ran out of steam and limped to a conclusion.

DKT: She was well-handled during the good runs of WildC.A.Ts--Moore's, Casey's, Gage's--and she pretty much literally saved the universe at the end of Gage's run. But I also would never have said, "The world is hungry for a Voodoo solo book." But that's because I mostly would never have said "The world is hungry for WildC.A.Ts solo books" in general.

*Jeezus, that's a pain to type.
Ide Cyan
4. Ide Cyan
There's something to be said for having a series headlined by a female mixed-species character of colour, though.
Ide Cyan
5. John R. Ellis
The story where James Robinson revealed Voodoo was a Daemonite hybrid instead of a Kherubim hybrid was actually pretty cool. It's something Moore and other subsequent writers ran with.

Ron Marz managed to make Witchblade interesting, so I'm thinking he can probably pull this one off.
Ide Cyan
6. Jim Kosmicki
I think Marz' books at Crossgen point to some potential for this series. I've always seen Marz as a journeyman writer, but the stuff he did at Crossgen really rose above the work he's done at Marvel and DC. I don't read Top Cow books, so I can't speak to Witchblade. (Tony Bedard is similar in this way, his Big 2 stuff is solid and readable, but the books he wrote for Crossgen were really, really good). If Voodoo can be similar to Mystic or Sojourn, this could be a sleeper.

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