Along with its original writer, Voodoo seems to have lost most of the qualities that made it an interesting read. Ron Marz apparently took a big chunk of the book’s personality with him when he left, because this issue is one forced read that lifelessly goes through the motions of its plot. What is difficult to say is whether this is the fault of the new writer, Josh Williamson, or the fault of DC editorial taking too heavy of a hand in guiding the book's direction.
I don’t know the details of what disagreement caused Marz and DC to part ways on Voodoo, but if this issue is any indication, Marz was probably right. From the start, Voodoo was accurately compared to Species. There was nothing really wrong with that, though. It was what it was and did it well. It was sexy, suspenseful and mysterious. The protagonist was hard to get a read on, and that put readers in the interesting position of considering whether to root for her pursuers. It wasn’t a particularly fast-paced book, but it did at least leave you with the sense that it was going somewhere. Notice that I am saying all this in past tense. That’s because none of this really seems to apply anymore.
I actually forgot initially that this is the first issue Marz didn’t write, but I sure do notice it after reading just the first few pages. Suddenly, we’re rushing through the story, and it is filled with exposition.The pace is now trying to drag you through the story while forcefeeding you bits of information along the way. Voodoo is suddenly now completely open to us with narrations explaining everything about her all the way down to an unnecessary degree. Yes, I know her unzipping her top is an attempt to seduce a man. I don't really need her inner narration explaining that to me at the same time. And for those who remember that cliffhanger at the end of last issue with the subplot of a Daemonite chasing after Voodoo, he catches up to her on the fourth page. The funny thing is that the first thing he says to her is that she’s a tough girl to find. Really? Because it seems like he found her pretty quick. You have to love those thrilling chase stories that skip most of the chasing.
From there, the story just careens down a path of exposition and generic dialogue. Voodoo and the Daemonite fight while simultaneously explaining their goals and pseudo-motivations. Agent Fallon has a scene with Black Jack that awkwardly tries to have some personality but really comes off more as bad acting. It then all concludes with a cliffhanger that I’m not sure really makes sense. There's a lot of information, but it feels like there is so little worth talking about due the clumsy and forceful way it is all executed. How do you critique a story that is less a story and more of an information dump? This issue mechanically achieves what I suppose DC wanted achieved to move forward with its upcoming plans for the Wildstorm titles, and it forgoes important story elements like pacing and tone to get done.
Without spoiling the issue's final reveal, it is meant to be one of those moments that turns everything onto its head and makes you question if what you thought you knew about Voodoo is all wrong. That doesn't really work for this book, though. What we thought we knew about Voodoo was... barely anything. That has been one of the driving forces of the series up until this point. Our protagonist was a mystery that we had been very gradually learning more about. We actually come into this issue knowing only a little about her, so a big reveal of this nature isn't particularly effective. It also begs the question of why any of us should care. It's almost like having a strange introduce himself to you as Frank only to confess to you a minute later that his name is actually Fred. Okay then. So? You still substantively know the guy as well as you did a moment earlier, except now you are a bit confused.
The other big moment of this issue is a mind-meld with the Daemonite that I suppose is meant to set up the crossover with Grifter and Stormwatch. It’s an extremely forced and awkward moment that doesn’t make much sense either. It’s the kind of moment that leaves you thinking, “Okay ...So that happened. Whatever that was.” Most likely, this is just a quickly contrived scene to give Voodoo a reason to telepathically learn about Grifter and Stormwatch. But for something so simple, they really could have gone about it in a much less ridiculous way. It also tries to emphasize the supposed threat Grifter poses to the Daemonites that really doesn't ring true, especially if you have been a reader of that series as well. And if you haven't been a reader of Grifter and Stormwatch, I can't imagine this scene being anything other than utterly lost on you.
Josh Williamson is not a writer I’m familiar with, and I hesitate to put the blame on him for this issue. It reeks of DC suddenly wanting to change gears on the series, requiring some poor writer to do the messy work of getting it all done as quickly as possible. He got that job. That’s not to say this issue still couldn’t have been better. It’s just that I’m betting the odds were heavily stacked against it ever being very good.
Voodoo no longer has the sexiness, suspense and mystery that made its first four issues interesting reads. This is an issue sorely lacking in all three qualities, and characters barely even approach being three-dimensional. The nicest way to describe it is probably utilitarian. The story is more concerned with wrapping and setting things up as DC wants them than, frankly, being a good story. Hopefully, this issue has done the job and Williamson will have the skill to kick it into high gear next issue. Otherwise, it’s a safe bet that you will see Voodoo among the next wave of DC cancellations.