Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review - Buzzkill #1

"One beer and I could send this bastard into orbit. Maybe a shot..."

Interventions are needed when an individual has a drinking problem. Higher levels of intervention are needed when said drinking problem has a side effect of increased strength and speed, essentially giving the user superhero powers. Ruben is a powerful alcoholic in Buzzkill #1 from Dark Horse Comics.

The issue is written by Donny Cates and Mark Reznicek, illustrated by Geoff Shaw and colored by Lauren Affe.

Everyone knows that his name is Ruben. That is, everyone at the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting knows his name is Ruben. Thing is though, Ruben isn't your normal alcoholic. No, he's a superhero of sorts, who gains incredible superpowers when he drinks or uses drugs. That seems all well and good, but both tend to have very addictive qualities and getting rid of the catalyst means losing the power. Of course, there are those less than reputable who would love for the superhero to voluntarily give up his powers, leaving Ruben with some very difficult choices to make.

Originality is hard to find these days, but Cates and Reznicek have definitely come up with something brilliant. There's always a sense of invulnerability that comes with drinking or using drugs, a sense that's amplified depending on how much and what drug. To manifest that as a source of powers is very bold on the part of the writers, as it almost could be perceived as implying an endorsement of such endeavors. It's likely that the duo isn't endorsing the use of heavy drugs with the hopes of becoming a superhero, but it's a fascinating type of "origin" so to speak. Cates and Reznicek don't use a vanilla origin story formula; rather, they have Ruben recount his horror stories with drugs and alcohol to the AA counselor. It's very much an amplified take on dealing with drug and alcohol addiction.

Shaw's art is very sharply deployed. Characters seem to cut into the backgrounds they're moving in and demonstrate a strange sense of perspective in some cases. There's a lot of scratchiness in the art as well, adding to its feel as a somewhat sobered look at dealing with addiction. Addiction is a very difficult thing to deal with for everyone involved and Cates does a great job conveying that sense of despair and sadness. There's a newspaper comics coating that covers the art, which also makes it feel as if you're reading a nostalgic look at an alcoholic's personal transgressions.

Readers don't really need origin stories like they used to. Readers today are much more willing to accept that Ruben just becomes a superhero when drinking, as opposed to readers back in the day having to know why Spider-man can cling to walls. That really helps Buzzkill #1, in that Cates and Reznicek doesn't have to tell a true origin story. Being able to allow Ruben to recount his transformation under the guise of getting help really makes the book move well, offering readers something fresh and interesting. Definitely a book to keep an eye on and a joy to read.

Buzzkill #1 is available in stores September 18 with interiors below.


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