Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Voodoo 0, originally released September 26th, 2012. Voodoo 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Drew: September marks the one year anniversary of the launch of the New 52, and, by extension, the anniversary of when I first decided to get into monthly comic books. My initial pull list was seven titles, and while this month has been exceptional, a typical month sees me following about 40 titles. Suffice it to say, I’m no longer daunted by the cost of admission to comics. A year ago, even a small crossover might have put me off for the time and money involved, but now my reaction to the likes of the Rise of the Third Army, Rotworld, and Death of the Family is one of excitement. And yet, this month has revealed that there are corners of DC’s universe that I still find daunting. The thought that there are titles that are bonding over Daemonites or secret government agencies in the same way titles I like are bonding over Owls or Rot makes me hesitant to step into those worlds. I know noting about those elements, and the fear of wanting to know all about them is pretty effective at keeping me away. Or is it that those elements just don’t interest me? Whatever the reason, Voodoo 0, fits right in that pocket, yet somehow manages to transcend the space opera trappings to deliver an intriguing origin that may just find a way of living on beyond the series.
The issue begins with Priscilla Kitaen coming to inside a Daemonite spaceship. She foggily recalls being abducted and experimented on, and runs across a number of people in tubes and cages that are apparently there for the same purposes. The Daemonites discover her escape, and attempt to stop her, inadvertently triggering whatever the experiments were meant to do — Priscilla sprouts wings and scales, and has fleeting thoughts sympathetic to the Daemonite cause. She escapes, and is discovered by “Black Razors,” some kind of super-secret alien-fighting government agency. They knock her out and bring her in, but exactly why isn’t clear. Meanwhile, the Daemonites regroup, preparing a clone of Priscilla to suit their purposes. Jump to “now,” where Grifter is saved from a Daemonite by Priscilla. Or maybe her clone. I’m not totally sure on that one. Anyway, there’s a promise that the story will be continued in Grifter, so there’s that.
In spite of my confusion, I found this to be a really fascinating origin. It’s essentially a Bourne movie, but with aliens. It sets up a conflict between Priscilla and her clone, but more importantly, between Priscilla and the Daemonite programming she’s received. Conceptually, this issue is fantastic, but it doesn’t always pull these ideas off perfectly.
Priscilla’s reactions to waking up in a test tube on an alien ship are great — and suitably disorienting for the start of a story — but the action is quickly bogged down in emphasizing details that would be better left understated. Take, for example, the fact that the Daemonites speak English to each other.
I’ve consumed enough SciFi at this point to not always question this, but that also means I’ve seen this dealt with in much more creative ways. I suppose my real problem with it is that there’s just no need for it. Priscilla doesn’t need to know what these aliens are saying to want to get out of there, so having them spout overly expository dialogue about sleeper agents isn’t just unnecessary, it’s downright distracting. It’s also lazy. Where writer Joshua Williamson could have come up with clever ways to show us what the Daemonites are up to, he relies all-too heavily on telling us, demonstrating very little faith in his audience to piece things together on their own, or to be intrigued at all by an unanswered question. I’m not sure if this is simply an artifact of this origin also being the final issue, but I really wish Williamson hadn’t put such a fine point on every little thing.
Once Priscilla is picked up by the Razors, the issue seems to switch modes to winking cameos of what I assume are key players of the series proper. I’m sure it’s more rewarding for longtime readers, but it manages to avoid becoming too distracting here. It makes me a bit curious about the series, though I’m not sure it reaches critical mass to actually pursue that curiosity. Like I said, there are some interesting ideas going on in this series, but the execution leaves something to be desired.
Sami Basri’s serviceable pencils don’t do much to elevate the issue. They’re perfectly attractive, but utterly generic. Basri shows a hint of ambition in the sequence where Priscilla is remembering how she got on the ship in the first place.
Those swooping panels are meant to represent Priscilla’s disorientation, but they’re too tame to be particularly effective. After reading the likes of Swamp Thing or Batwoman, this feels far too tame to convey any sort of confusion. Perhaps those titles have spoiled me, but they’ve also reset our expectations for what a page can look like. I suppose it’s unfair to expect every artist to be Yanick Paquette or J.H. Williams II, but I don’t think hoping for a little more creativity is too much to ask.
I don’t know, Shelby. I almost like this issue, but I think it falls just short of rising to the challenge of its concept. It’s not bad, but it’s almost more frustrating for not being as good as it could be. What was your experience with this issue?
Shelby: I was ultimately more confused than pleased by this issue. Part of the problem is I have some familiarity with Voodoo, or at least, a pre-52 version of her; Alan Moore did a great Voodoo mini-series that was actually about voodoo magic. Priscilla comes to New Orleans to be an exotic dancer, and gets caught in the middle of some wild stuff. Despite the weird, half-dinosaur Voodoo on the cover, I was hoping for more of that magic action.
I’m also not wild about the multiple-clones punchline. To me, it’s right up there with “and it was all a dream.” When this issue ends, we have hybrid dinosaur-Priscilla, who is a good (?) guy because she escaped without all her Daemonite conditioning, and clone Priscilla, who is a bad(?) guy because she’s been fully brainwashed. But, wait, wouldn’t clone Priscilla also by a hybrid dinosaur-Priscilla, because that’s how cloning works? So, which Priscilla do we end up with in the end? If I had been reading this title the last year, I would probably know, and probably be happy to find out exactly how she got her dinosaur/clone properties in the first place, but now that I know the answer is “there were TWO of them, you guys!” I find that I don’t care to go back and read the rest at all.
Another interesting thing to consider about this issue is it’s the last of the title, which means it serves both to tell an origin and wrap up loose ends. This is, essentially, Williamson’s final word on this character. Again, if I had followed Voodoo from wherever she started to her origin/end, there’s a really good chance I would feel satisfied and satiated. As it is, however, all I can do is call it perplexing and hope we never branch into any of the Daemonite stories, because confusing. Any of you guys out there reading (or, read, I suppose) this title? Was this a satisfying end, or a frustrating, cop-out conclusion?
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?