“Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child” #1 by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds and Denys Cowan is a strange little book. A lot happens in this first issue, which is a nice change of pace from so many excessively deconstructed books that take forever to get to the set up, but it overreaches and looks a bit crowded and rushed as a result.
While the concept of the book is not a bad one, it’s generally overwritten. Too much dialogue and too many narration captions, as if trying to compensate for something. The narration has a New Orleans vibe to it, but Hind doesn’t quite pull it off and since the main character’s voice is drastically different than the narration captions, it comes off as a bit schizophrenic, as if it doesn’t know what its voice should be. Perhaps if we better understood who the narrator was it might be easier to absorb.
It’s also hard to understand Dominique’s motives — particularly when she goes to the grave of legendary “Voodoo Queen” Marie Laveau for guidance. We as readers can understand why she does this, since it’s obvious there is more than meets the eye to Dominique and we know the title of the book, but there’s little acknowledgment of that on Dominique’s part and so it ends up feeling forced and arbitrary.
A lot of the back-story presented here is unnecessary or doesn’t tell us what might help us understand Dominique better as a character. There’s some poorly executed info-dumping and simultaneously the creators miss important and potentially cool moments, like Dominique’s first and only display of power — which is seen in a single panel, taking up less than a quarter of a page.
Cowan’s art in this book is not a style that works particularly well for me and it doesn’t feel like the same caliber as some of his other work I’ve enjoyed. However, it does have a nice energy and enthusiasm about it. The largest issue is the inconsistency of the art. Although the setting of New Orleans is well handled overall and has a certain richness, the characters appear almost as if they’re lying on top of the backgrounds rather than interacting with them. They feel flat and insubstantial in comparison. Additionally, the main character looks different enough from panel to panel that I never got a firm handle on what she actually looks like. Dave McCraig’s colors are a nice almost monochromatic tone that serves the book well, but they’re not enough to compensate for the book’s other weaknesses.
“Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child” has an interesting setting and the potential to be a story that focuses on characters, places and themes we don’t get to see enough, but so far the execution is not living up to the idea.