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.