Talk about a book losing all of its appeal in a hurry. Voodoo manages to be simultaneously unremarkable and convoluted as it dives head first into what is supposed to pass for the substance of its story. Substandard action and forced dialogue don’t make for much substance, though.
Man, I so wanted to like this book. I was on the fence about Wildstorm characters being integrated into the DC Universe, but I was won over by the unique presences of Grifter and Voodoo in the New 52 lineup of books. They were slowly paced, but they were some good alien science fiction books. I even gave Josh Williamson and DC the benefit of the doubt with the last issue, writing the poor quality off as a result of a rushed transition to replace Ron Marz and move the book in a different direction.
Sadly, no. This is just a poor title now.
This issue launches out of the revelation that Voodoo is actually a clone of... herself? See, this is my problem with this supposed plot swerve. Why am I supposed to care? How can you have an identity crisis story when you never really established the character’s identity in the first place? I don’t understand how DC expects me to react to and follow this development. What did Voodoo think she was before? It seemed like she was already aware that she was a hybrid created by the Daemonites. Now, she has discovered that she... was created by the Daemonites. I’m sorry, but what is the drama supposed to be here? Why is it so world-shattering for her that she’s not necessarily the original? This reads as something DC made up late in the game, because there’s such a weak foundation for it in the story. The only thing this clone revelation has achieved is to make the story badly convoluted.
This issue also takes us into the inner workings of the Daemonite conspiracy Voodoo has be involved in. That’s right. We finally get to see the things the series has been hinting at since the beginning. Guess what? It is completely worthless. Seriously, is that the War Council? Just some nondescript Daemonites sitting in a circle? I don’t know if a more generic alien war council is even conceivable. In fact, all of the Daemonites we see are the same and character-less. The only unique characters we come across are ones previously established by Marz, namely Skinny and his girls. I’m going to be kind again. It’s entirely possible things behind the scenes are still being rushed with the book. It’s possible. And it’s the only excuse I can think of to even come close to warrant being this lazy.
Primarily, we read as Voodoo fights her way to an audience with the War Council. The action is far from impressive. She really just fights her way through, as if she is some kind of inexplicable juggernaut and all are helpess before her. Last issue, she was the underdog against a single Daemonite. How is it she can take on a half dozen at once now? Yeah, yeah. I know plot convenience is the answer, but it’s a bad answer. The use of her powers is pretty ridiculous too. The idea is that she shapeshifts into something or someone her enemy is afraid of. Okay. But doesn’t the fact that she does so right in front of her enemy neuter that? Do her enemies have no short term memory and forget that they are fully aware she is not really the scary thing she appears to be? Come on. If you’re going to play the psychological warefare card, you have to at least be a little intelligent about it.
The mysterious nature of the Daemonites early on in this series and in Grifter really made them seem intriguing. However, the more that now gets revealed of them leaves them seeming less and less. I’ve been largely won over to the idea of integrating Wildstorm characters, but this does leave me wondering one thing. Does the DC Universe need the Daemonites? The war-like nature, the telepathy, the shapeshifting abilities of the hybrids, the human experimentation, even some of their design. Wouldn’t it have been better just to use the White Martians? As the Daemonites get revealed to be little more than generic evil aliens, I really fail to see what they offer that is at all unique. Using White Martians instead would have better integrated Voodoo and Grifter into their new home universe, and it would have been a really great tie to Martian Manhunter’s presence in Stormwatch. I guess it could still be revealed that the Daemonites have some Martian ties, but I think DC has already missed the mark on this one.
It makes me feel mean that this is going to be my third review recently that calls Josh Williamson out for poor dialogue. I’m honestly not trying to pick on the guy. But if he wants to keep at this, he needs to put more thought and effort into his dialogue writing. The way it reads now leaves it feeling like it’s all a tacked on afterthought. There’s no flow to it. There’s no personality to it that comes close to feeling three-dimensional. It comes off like the dialogue is only concerned with moving forward the plot and putting words on the page. It’s boring at its best and scene-breaking at its worst.
I get it. Voodoo has been failing. It was probably lucky to not be among the first books cancelled. Like we heard happened with Static Shock, DC is most likely behind the scenes scrambling to come up with ways to kick up interest in the book. And that’s what I don’t get. What exactly do they think is going to get people interested with these changes? Pumping up the action in this series can’t honestly be anyone’s solution. Since when does the amount of action really have anything to do with sales? Besides, there’s no shortage of other books with healthy amounts of action in them to choose from. No one is going to come running to this series because it now has a bit more action, especially when that action is nothing remarkable or entertaining. DC has sacrificed the qualities that did make this series unique in favor of making it a more generic read.
Voodoo was never one of my favorite series, but I did think it was a gem in the New 52 as one of the books genuinely trying to do something different and interesting. I really don’t think it’s trying to do that anymore. If the confusing clone revelation and push for more standard action rather than sex appeal and sci-fi intrigue is supposed to be what DC thinks will help this book, someone is very misguided in the DC offices. Anyone who still enjoys Voodoo should cherish every issue, because I’m betting there won’t be too many more.