Does anyone remember a DC villain from a 1988 issue of New Guardians named Snowflame? His powers were activated by use of cocaine and his only weakness was cocaine dependence. Weird, huh? Not many people will probably remember this lad, as he only appeared in one issue. Dark Horse’s new mini-series, Buzzkill is similar in a few respects. It’s centered on a hero with a suspected dark past who goes by the name Ruben. Ruben is like Snowflame in that his powers are activated by drugs and alcohol, similar to how many people feel when they're intoxicated.
Kicking off this new series, we meet Ruben, our main character. He’s in the basement of what looks like a church or mission, attending an AA meeting. Sitting there, listening to other people’s sob stories about their addictions, Ruben immediately judges them crybabies and losers. After badgering by the group's members, Ruben finally relents and reveals the origins of his own addiction issues. He tells the group that he’s had problems with his addiction from high school and into college, and it still plagues him to this day. Although the reader is aware of his super power situation, he makes no reference of this to his group members. After the meeting, an acquaintance of Ruben’s named Eric approaches him. Eric tries to persuade Ruben into coming back to participate in some activity Ruben wants no part in. Later, we see a group of menacing villains watch a tape of Ruben as he admits to his AA group, in confidence, that he thinks he has a problem with his drinking and drug use.
Let’s face the facts: Buzzkill is a boatload of fun already. For starters, we have a unique story about a man who gets his super powers from abusing drugs and alcohol. Although it seems, initially, Ruben is a bit conceited in thinking he doesn’t have a problem, after a bit of self-disclosure, he realizes that he might have a problem with the method of activating his powers. He speaks to his AA group a bit about a fight he recently had where he put a man in a coma. According Ruben this man has yet to come out of a coma, and he seems to feel sort of ashamed about this fact. It probably doesn’t help his shame that he was supercharged by using substances and was able to withstand any damage from the other guy.
The artwork and coloring are very much a highlight of the book as well. Illustrated by Geoff Shaw, Buzzkill’s art borders on the crisp colorfulness of many of today’s popular books, but also it has some grittiness to it that will be important in the development of Ruben’s story. One thing that became apparent during reading is that the artwork design on Ruben tends to reflect how he might feel about himself. Another important point to note is the unique design of the costume of Eric and the variety of appearance of many of the supposed villains at the end of issue one. Sitting around a round table, Shaw draws characters that range from an evil Chewbacca to something similar to an Ood from Doctor Who, and even some guy with horns coming out the front of his forehead.
With only one issue released, Buzzkill is already shaping up to be an incredibly fun series. Co-written by Donny Cates and Mark Reznicek, illustrated by Geoff Shaw, the series seems to be teeming with potential for a sci-fi superhero journey. Buzzkill seems to have the potential to depart from the typical superhero genre and catapult itself into a category where the writer and creative team reflect on the choices of the superhero rather than just relish in the destruction and defeat of enemies.
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About the Author - Joe Toeben
Listen: Joe is a cranky old man unstuck in time. He spends most of his time reading, writing and perfecting the art of 7 Little Words. When he isn't doing one of the previous things, he’s likely to be enjoying a soccer match, a fine episode of television or napping with his two dogs. You can follow his inane actions and rants on his twitter @toejben.
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