Will Morgan — 01-Feb-12
I came to this New 52 relaunch knowing almost nothing about the ‘old’ Voodoo; I was only vaguely aware that she belonged to a team called the WildC.A.T.S., who habitually fought some Body-Snatcherish aliens. So my preconceptions were minimal.
And the opening splash of issue 1 very nearly made me give up on even those low expectations, as the first time we see the only woman of colour to have her own series in the DCU (or anywhere in comics, come to that), she’s mostly naked, on her knees, in a strip club. Way to represent!
It emerges that our heroine, who rejoices in the ‘real’ name of Priscilla Kitaen, is a hybrid of humanity and a race called the Daemonites, who sent her to Earth to gather Intel on the superhero community, and circumvent the obstacles said heroes would present to a Daemonite invasion.
And of course the most practical, least obtrusive way to achieve this is to make your sleeper agent a shapeshifting supermodel stripper who telepathically plucks secrets from denizens of the nearby New Orleans military base while she gives them private dances.
Hey, don’t look like that; it could work …
But, oho, the good guys are on the case, in the forms of FBI agents Jess Fallon and Tyler Evans, who come to the club to gain info on Voodoo’s contacts. Except Jess decides it’s not floating her boat, so she sensibly leaves her partner alone to obtain a private dance with someone they know to be a metahuman hostile. Needless to say, don’t get too attached to Evans, who promptly blurts out everything and gets slaughtered for his trouble, while Fallon sulks jealously in their shared hotel room. Go, Feds!
Voodoo promptly quits the club, shifts into Evans’ form and boinks Fallon to discover what she knows (there’s some sort of explanatory sop about sexual arousal lowering psychic resistance), then goes soft-centred and let Fallon live while she (Voodoo) reports back to her contacts, dragging Green Lantern into the fray.
Oh, and she’s pursued by a mystery man who also seems to be an alien, who snuffs the handful of civilians Voodoo managed not to mop up on her travels.
Ron Marz, writer of issues 1-4, is an author whose oeuvre has, so far, induced in me an indifferent shrug, and these issues didn’t change my mind. There’s the odd entertaining or poignant moment – the clash with Green Lantern is deftly done, and ‘Anonymous Stripper # 3’ gets the most plausible speech in the series so far, back in #1 – but they’re too rare to offset the fundamental dumbness of the premise. (Shapeshifting telepath? HELLO! Infiltrate the military base and get your intel directly, instead of shaking your moneymaker at a bunch of sweaty low-level grunts!)
Sami Basri illustrates throughout, and, given my low previous estimate of his talents in my Power Girl review, does a creditable job; his artwork isn’t wildly exciting, but it knows its lines and doesn’t bump into the furniture, so it’s not obtrusive.
With issue 5, Marz is replaced as writer by one Josh Williamson, and suddenly we get quite a bit more happening to keep the audience awake. Our heroine’s pursuer is revealed as a pure-blooded Daemonite – as opposed to Voodoo’s half-human status – and representative of a faction that believes hybrids have no place in the grand plan, a conviction he’s prepared to proselytize with lethal force. The action sequence is dextrously intercut with actual development of the supporting characters and advancement of the plot, with the twist reveal that Voodoo herself may not be who she think she is – or at least, not the first iteration of who she thinks she is…
Now, don’t let’s get overly excited; it’s still generic tosh, but at least now it’s brisk-paced generic tosh with a bit more coherence than we’ve previously experienced. And issue 5 has swayed me from ‘I’m about ready to give up on this bollocks’ to ‘Eh, I’ll give it a few more issues’, so that’s a not inconsiderable tribute to Mr. Williamson’s persuasive powers.