Buzzkill #1 Advanced Review: The Best AA Meeting Ever
Mark Waid wishes he'd thought of this. No, really, it says so right on the cover. And after reading this surprise gem I wish I'd thought of it too.
"Ruben," as he calls himself, is a superhero. But Ruben's superpowers come with a terrible price: in order to get them he has to drink or do drugs. Actions that he reveals have had dire consequences. Now in Alcoholics Anonymous, will Ruben be able to fight his demons?
This issue serves as an origin story, but with a twist: Ruben is telling us all of this after the fact at an AA meeting. I love this setting because it's not something I've ever seen in a comic book and after seeing recycled superhero plots over and over this was a relief. There is still creativity out there and it comes from writers like Donny Cates and Toadies drummer Mark Reznicek.
The rest of the story continues to do something different than your average comic book. The comic's definitely for mature readers but the mentions of high school and college in the origin story make this a great choice for teenagers, a rarity in the comic book field. The events that take place during high school and college are tragic and disturbing. What makes one graphic scene stand out is that the writers and artist know to show just enough to get the reader's mind reeling without showing much at all. The ending throws in a couple of twists that makes me anxious for the next issue so I can learn about this world.
Ruben can be looked up to since he's trying to get help for his addiction. You can really feel his frustration from his narration throughout the first issue. He's also much more likeable than the dialogue would suggest thanks to artist Geoff Shaw who does a great job drawing the emotions on Ruben's face. Regret one of several powerful emotions that Shaw got across on the panel. His design for Ruben is also perfect. His shaggy hair and tinged-red nose from the cold really suit him.
Shaw's art style is very sketchy, a style I don't love but that fits this issue. The violent panels that are shown in more detail are pretty gruesome and the clear background used to show a particularly gruesome panel gets a pass because it was a dream sequence. But Shaw doesn't neglect the background in a great full-page spread of Ruben towards the end of the issue. Colorist Lauren Affe also uses some bright colors which shouldn't work with such a dark story but somehow, just like the rest of the unconventional story, the colors work.
If you're looking for something different from the norm, this is a meaningful attempt to talk about alcoholism that doesn't commit the cardinal sin of being preachy. There's even some over-the-top violent imagery accentuated with a few subtler touches in the artwork that add to the overall appeal of the story. These factors make Buzzkill
a fantastic first issue that you should not pass up. Unlike the copious amounts of alcohol...