With new writer Joshua Williamson on board for "Voodoo" #5, I decided to give the book another try.
In "Voodoo" #5, Voodoo is on the verge of completing her mission when she's intercepted by a Daemonite in disguise. Williamson throws a lot of what amounts to Daemonite racism and bravado around with little actual action. The result is that Voodoo is able to easily kill him. As she moves to complete her mission (and prove herself to the disbelievers that felt a half breed such as herself couldn't be trusted) she notices a file with her name on it and, curiosity being what it is, she opens it up. Meanwhile Agent Fallon and Black Jack head to an underground lab because Agent Fallon has had an idea we're not privy to. In the last pages, it's revealed that the Voodoo we've been following is a clone, and another Voodoo (it’s unclear if she’s the original) is prisoner in a basement lab somewhere. Clone Voodoo is shocked, as clones usually are.
The clone element is supposed to be a big reveal given the way the story is constructed, but it just doesn't have much punch. Perhaps it's because we've been treated to so much exposition to get there, or perhaps because as comic readers we've just seen similar notes too many times before, but it doesn't resonate. It's hard to know with a new writer on board whether this was the plan all along, or if this is a new element, or if the writers had anything to do with the concept at all. But it strikes me as less interesting than some of the other possibilities already on the table, like Voodoo’s conflicted feelings of loyalty since she technically belongs to both races. Williamson's writing feels okay from a voice perspective, but the way it rolls out -- in big chunks of clunky exposition that don't compel the story forward -- is unfortunate. The villain over-explaining rather than taking action is a trope that comic readers are all too familiar with, and though it can be done successfully, it isn't here.
Additionally, the fight between Voodoo and the Daemonite relies in large part on understanding the Dameonite’s relationship to Grifter. If you don’t understand it (as I didn’t) then you’ll find yourself shrugging and moving on. Which is not a great reaction to have during a climactic action scene. On a smaller level, Voodoo's belief that she can unzip her top to distract “the human” feels like a weak perpetration of the idiotic idea that cleavage might be a reasonable way to distract enemies in battle. It's a belief that quite frankly belittles everyone involved - the characters, the readers, and the creators. If the idea was that Voodoo was going to use her impressive mind powers on him…then why would she need the top unzipped in the first place? Voodoo does seem to have more agency in this issue than some of the previous issues, but that alone can’t save the book from all the other frustrating aspects.
Sami Basri's art continues to be very clean and controlled; it's probably a very fine look for some books and some readers, but for this reviewer it continues to feel too antiseptic and stiff. Some of the storytelling is very strong and the figure work in general is very beautiful, but Voodoo's features are surprisingly inconsistent given what a controlled artist Basri is. The fight scene also has no punch whatsoever, and feels static throughout. It's not a very exciting issue from a penciling point of view, but in the few opportunities Basri is given to step outside the box, he doesn't.
The idea for this book – that of a hybrid human-alien spy running around the country gathering intel to send to the big bad aliens back home -- is a compelling one. However, the three issues I've read have just not been very interesting. It’s disappointing to see one of the few books with a female lead suffering from creative team upheaval and low sales, but the concept thus far doesn’t seem to work as executed.