“Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child” #2 is an odd duck. The first issue of the series hit the ground running, setting up mysteries and portents for a brand new character as Selwyn Seyfu Hinds and Denys Cowan built the world around the titular character. This issue, however, is heavy with exposition and obscurity, introducing quite a few characters quickly to the point where I considered taking notes to keep folks straightened out.
Several scenes are overly dialoged, but much of that dialog is interrupted, incomplete or a little too inside at this point in the story. It doesn’t help matters of clarity, but it does bring the reader to Laveau’s side as she tries to navigate the confusing world her life has become entrenched in. Hinds seems to be trying to build a world, set up a conflict and impart mythology and/or history all in one swipe. Some of those attempts are strong and successful, but sometimes too much is simply too much.
As such, the story bounces back and forth through time, as well as all around New Orleans. Dominique Laveau is befriended by a shade named Black Benny, who gives her a tour of the other shades walking just beyond our perception. This serves as a testimonial or documentary of the unnecessary violence and death that residents of New Orleans have endured. That scene is part plot support, part soapbox, but it defines the where and the when for Laveau’s narrative going forward.
When I first saw this solicited, the words “Voodoo Child” called to mind imagery and fond memories of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan belting out the former’s tune of similar title. That got my attention immediately. Seeing Denys Cowan credited in the artist’s chair held onto my attention and I made note of this book’s pending release. Unfortunately, Cowan’s art is inconsistent, excelling in some spots and falling flat mere panels later. There are moments of pure brilliance, as you can see in the preview here on CBR, and moments that should have more visual impact than they do, again as you can see in that same preview. Cowan’s still got a very good grasp on storytelling and masterful knowledge of anatomy, but his figures are frequently stiff and lack excitement.
Dave McCaig’s coloring fills the dark, dreary world of post-Katrina New Orleans with accurate representations of the cold and dank atmosphere, but save Laveau’s sweatshirt, there really isn’t anything to contrast against that darkness and the entire book just slides into dullness. I certainly don’t expect Laveau to don tights and emanate energy, but when characters have to have a halo around them to step up from the background, it certainly seems like other coloring tricks might be more effective.
Vertigo has had a nice run lately of intelligent, compelling reads and I was hoping that “Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child” was going to follow suit. So far, there hasn’t been anything to prove that a worthy assumption. It’s a decent read, but comic budget being what it is, decent just doesn’t cut it.