A review of the newest Vertigo ongoing series.
Credits & Solicit Info:
DOMINIQUE LAVEAU: VOODOO CHILD is the story of a half-breed, outcast and heir to the Voodoo Queenship of New Orleans, if she can live long enough to claim her birthright. New Orleans is the most haunted city in America: a town of centuries-old ghosts and newly drowned spirits; where vampires, voodoo spirits and loups-garous make their home. Ruling over this all are the powerful Voodoo Queens, whose influence stretches into politics, business and crime as they maintain a delicate balance between the mortal and supernatural worlds.But in the aftermath of Katrina, all that has changed, for someone or something has murdered the Voodoo Queen and most of her court. The number one suspect is Dominique Laveau, a grad student at Tulane who is about to discover that her entire life has been a lie. Now Dominique must forge alliances with those out to kill her while seeking to uncover the truth behind the royal murders, as she is ultimately forced to deal with a destiny she could never have imagined. Voodoo Child is a new monthly series written by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, former editor-in-chief of The Source magazine, award-winning author, journalist and TV producer, with art by Milestone Media co-founder Denys Cowan (THE QUESTION) and covers by Rafael Grampá.
Written by: Selwyn Hinds
Cover by: Rafael Grampá
Pencilled by: Denys Cowan
Inked by: John Floyd
Cover Color by: Dave Stewart
Lettered by: Clem Robins
Colored by: Dave McCaig
This month has been a big one for Vertigo, DC's creator-owned imprint. After nearly two years of hibernation and a bevy of cancellations, Vertigo announced the release of four new ongoing series. Three of the series had established comic creators attached to them, but the fourth, Dominique Laveau, Voodoo Child, was written by a new voice in the industry, Selwyn Seyfu Hinds. Hinds is not exactly a newcomer to writing; he is an established journalist and director whose credits include two books, a stint as editor in chief of The Source Magazine, and an impressive resume working for BET. Yet despite Hinds' impressive resume, Dominique Laveau, Voodoo Child #1 fails to shine due to uneven pacing and a poor introduction to the high concept voodoo plot.
Dominique Laveau is a student working on the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina who quickly becomes caught up in a battle between the dark voodoo factions of New Orleans. Laveau runs through all of New Orleans after seeing her co-volunteers murdered by a bat-like creature, introducing the reader to her love interest Allan and her ancestor Marie Laveau, the infamous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Hinds makes it clear that Dominique is at the center of some sort of voodoo plot, but what exactly spurred it on is unclear.
The greatest shortfall of Dominique Laveau, Voodoo Child is the rushed and sloppy pacing of the plot. Dominique is running in every page in which she appears, save for a three-paged, ethereal flashback that gives the largest hint as to why Laveau is getting dragged into the world of voodoo. This is made worse by a lyrical poetic narration that only hints at what's going on in the comic. It's a jarring experience and requires multiple reads to understand exactly what is going on. Even after five read-throughs, I still feel I'm missing something. In addition, there's stunningly little characterization to the comic. Hinds gives us no reason to either root for or care about Laveau or any of the other characters in the book. The sole bright point in this comic is Denys Cowan's art, which is evocative of Rafael Albuquerque's distinctive style.
To say that this issue is a mess would be an understatement. This might be the worst comic I've read from Vertigo in years, largely due to its massive technical flaws. This is a comic I desperately want to like, but was simply unable to get into because of its confusing plot, poor transitions, and wretched pacing. The only real upside to Dominique Laveau, Voodoo Child is that it can only get better from here. Perhaps an issue or two of world-building will right the course and prevent the series from becoming the first casualty in Vertigo's 2012 class.
Review by: Christian Hoffer