By: Josh Williamson (writer), Sami Basri (artist), Jessica Kholinne (colorist)

The Story: My only advice to you, Voodoo, is talk it out before you walk it out.

The Review: It’s always intriguing when these creative shake-ups happen in comics.  Sure, the reasons why someone departs from a project can have a lot of drama (see John Rozum’s exit from Static Shock), but to me it’s more interesting to look at who’s being brought in to replace him, and why.  Maybe this is only a DC thing—though I tend to doubt it—but I’m amazed by how frequently their titles lose great writers, only to get filled in by terribly mediocre ones.

Perhaps it’s a bit too soon and too harsh to say so now, but Voodoo seems to be one of those cases.  True, it’s not like Ron Marz was a particularly visionary storyteller on this title.  And I certainly understand, given Williamson’s success on Xenoholics, why someone might have thought it’d be a good idea to bring him in to this sci-fi, alien-populated series.  But when you think of the general tone of Xenoholics, which many have described as “quirky,” “tongue-in-cheek,” or “a white trash CONTACT,” it’s clear Williamson’s sensibilities are completely at odds with the extraterrestrial thriller Marz had been going for all along.

For those of you who weren’t convinced last issue, the dialogue has indeed taken a permanent turn for the worse.  If you can, take a look at this issue’s cover (courtesy of Paulo Siqueira and Rod Reis), and pay attention to the characters’ faces.  Despite the fact Voodoo, Black Jack, and Fallon are all battle-hardened, highly experienced soldiers who take a licking and keep on ticking, they all sport the same childishly astonished expressions at the rain of rubble around them.  That same inappropriate immaturity has infected their speech.

At one point, Black Jack and Fallon’s banter reads like the preening of two middle-school boys trying to sound like high school gangsters: “Just because you’re back in armor doesn’t mean you got skills, desk jockey.”  “Oh, yeah? Watch me go bust out our prisoner!”  If that isn’t out of character enough, Williamson also seems to forget that “Skinny” (the hybrid Daemonite from #3) is in fact a no-nonsense, practically brooding alien sergeant, choosing instead to play up his redneck appearance: “You dummy! You can’t go running to the war council thinking they will save you.  They’re still gonna punish you!  Hahahahahaha[!]”

What really gets my goat in this issue, however, is Williamson’s portrayal of the Daemonites, who seem wildly simple-minded and unsubtle for such an ostensibly advanced species.  For example, Voodoo turning into Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern in an attempt to fool her fellow hybrids into submission, or something.  It was never, ever going to work, even if Skinny didn’t know what a Lantern smells like, and the fact Voodoo even made the attempt speaks ill on her intelligence.  But then again, it seems to work when she turns into the Black Curate, causing Skinny’s lady-guards to cower before her—even though they saw the transformation happen.  At this point, you don’t even care if the Daemonites do succeed in an invasion.  Considering their track record so far, you have no confidence they can pose a threat even to the Teen Titans.

As it happens, I saw an ad for Voodoo in All-Star Western #6.  The tagline for the ad was quoted from iFanboy, which said, “Basri’s art is as gorgeous as ever.”  I find it both troubling and funny that the best praise DC’s marketing department could come up with for this title is in regards to the art, but it doesn’t surprise me.  Basri has been the most consistent force for this series since it began, delivering beautiful results every time, no matter the quality of the script.  It’s a shame he doesn’t have a better outlet for his talents, nor for Kholinne’s, who has really impressed me with her work on this title.

Conclusion: Again, I have to say that the loveliest art in the world can’t cover up a weak story, though the reverse can be true.  Now that Voodoo is officially Dropped, Grifter recently gone, and Stormwatch on the fence with Paul Cornell’s absence, it seems DC’s attempts to endear the Wildstorm properties to us—or, more accurately, me—is going bust.

Grade: C

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: “It’s getting heavy, Fallon.”  Oh, what does it matter to you, Black Jack, with your invulnerable skin?