Review: Voodoo #5

Voodoo #5

I’ve been enjoying Voodoo for the most part.  And I feel the same way about the New 52 in general.  Sure, they each have their problems – Voodoo danced (unsatisfactorily, so far) with some tricky sexual politics; the New 52 has had some major writing shake-ups and PR slip-ups – but they started off as ambitious, interesting ideas, something unpredictable in a market that desperately loves the smell of stagnation.  But lately, I’ve been having trouble with both as their flaws became more and more evident.  What does that mean for Voodoo #5?

Earlier this week, John Rozum posted an absolutely fascinating article about his time with Static Shock.  In it, he talks about how artist Scott McDaniel’s love of ‘spectacle storytelling’ led to livening up dull comics with ill-advised decisions like a pointless clone subplot.  I bring this up because Rozum’s treatment seems similar (though far harsher) to that of Ron Marz, who was dismissed without explanation from a book that experienced heavy editorial oversight.  His replacement, Josh Williamson, entered the book with issue #5, and his first major creative choice is… a clone subplot.

Now, it’s entirely possible that the clone subplot was Marz’s idea.  His run on Voodoo thus far has hardly been flawless.  And I’m not really faulting the editorial process here – editors are necessary and, in general, tend to be pretty darn good at their jobs, especially at Marvel and DC.  They can and should fire anyone who isn’t working well on a title.  The worry here is that Voodoo, which had a surprisingly subtle first issue, is tossing what made it work out the window in favor of more ‘spectacle’ (which this issue undeniably does).  Because I can’t think of anything that would kill my interest in the book faster.

Not all is grim, of course.  Sami Basri’s art is still top notch, smooth and crisp, though I think he’s better suited to the slower, shiftier series of the first couple issues; Voodoo’s fight with a Daemonite traitor had some neat images, but it’s a very static fight scene, with no sense of movement or action in the panels.  And Voodoo remains a conceptually compelling book – the idea of following a shapeshifting alien spy running rampant in the new DC Universe is a profoundly cool one, and I still have hopes that Josh Williamson can live up to the book’s promise.  But this was still a profoundly disappointing issue of an otherwise mostly enjoyable series.

One thought on “Review: Voodoo #5

  1. I haven’t read Voodoo 5 yet. I’m on the fence about reading it honestly. The situation with Marz left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t know any more than anyone else. But I see a pattern at DiDio’s DC. Talented writers like Marz, Chuck Dixon and Dwayne McDuffie getting got up in editorial mandates that ruin their books and sometimes drive them from the company. You mentioned Rozum and Static Shock. Don’t forget Simone and Firestorm. Mark Waid has commented that he is dead to DC these days. Pretty sure the same can be said for Peter David. Meanwhile, DC is handing over writing chores to Rob Liefeld! I just don’t get it.

    Word is that DiDio is a control freak and that he can’t make up his mind. Not only does he swamp you with editorial edicts. But once he has forced changes on your book, he’s very likely to force you to undo them and go another way. Dixon compared him unfavorably to Jim Shooter who was also known for heavy editorial influence. But he said he’d rather have a dictator who was consistent.

    Dixon on Shooter and DiDio:

    “Though I saw Shooter in full fledge psychotic editorial rage a couple of times, he did provide leadership at Marvel and didn’t change the company’s direction five times in one day. And the company climbed out of the red and became vital again under his stewardship. I disagreed with many of his ideas when it came to continuity but he was at least consistant and you knew where you stood. And merit was rewarded back then. If you sold well and handed the stuff in on time you’d never go without work.

    I’ve worked under tyrants and I can say that I’d prefer to work under a talented, knowledgeable tyrant with a successful plan than a directionless gladhander with a ouija board any day of the week.”

    What happened to Marz isn’t an isolated incident. It’s a pattern that goes back years with DiDio at DC. I’m sure Dixon had his own spin on things. But as an outsider looking in for the last several years, I think Dixon’s account is probably pretty accurate for writers that aren’t named Geoff Johns.

    Just look at the mess DiDio has made of the new 52. The relaunch was a brilliant idea. But to pull it off, you had to be tight. I like a lot of the books that came from the relaunch. But it’s been an absolute mess! It seems like the folks in charge couldn’t even be bothered to commit to some ideas before the books came out. The whole thing feels like it’s being thrown together on the fly.

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