One of the more controversial titles to come out of DC's 'new 52' is Voodoo #1, but does the story featuring the character as a stripper go beyond the surface, or does this issue just cater to cheesecake and fanboy fantasy?
When I decided to review this issue I really wanted to keep an open mind; to me, that's what was most important when you are reading a book and writing its review; I do my best not to let what the critics have said influence or dictate how I feel when I read it. Having said all that, I really enjoyed the first issue of Voodoo. Long before the issue's release, I had seen the teaser image of the character crawling on a strip club stage and I remember thinking to myself how utterly horrible it was. Tack that image to the plethora of changes that have been part of DC's 'new 52' including, but not limited to, the redesign of Harley Quinn, Starfire's amnesia and it's no wonder why I, like many other girls I know, would feel a bit uneasy about the portrayal of women in comics. Then I remembered that this was only a teaser and that I shouldn't judge a book by its cover. And I'm glad I didn't.
Admittedly, the first page of 'Voodoo' is definitely a little bit...cheesecake; pandering to male fantasy and desire; however even the dialogue on that page begs the question "who is Voodoo?" which encompasses what this issue is all about. Granted, Sami Basri and Ron Marz don't leave much to the imagination, as the majority of the issue is set inside of a strip club. In fact, the majority of panels featuring Voodoo have her on a stage removing items of clothing. Then again, she is a stripper and this is a strip club. This isn't an entirely new concept, either; prior to Voodoo first being discovered by the WILDC.A.T.S. during Jim Lee and Brandon Choi's run, Voodoo worked as a stripper.
With so many new incarnations of these 'new 52' characters, was it necessary to make Voodoo a stripper? I mean, Barbara Gordon gets to be Batgirl again and most of her years spent as Oracle are seemingly ret-conned, so it would have been easy for DC to change Voodoo and give her a different kind of job, right? While it wasn't necessary to make her a stripper, it does fit into the story line. As a telepath, Voodoo utilized her psychic abilities to obtain information from the military men who come from a nearby base to watch her dance. She is a spy working for another government. She's taking the easy way out to obtain the information she needs by using men when they are most vulnerable and taking advantage of them when their "defenses are down," direct quote. She's exploiting men when they think they are exploiting her. It's kind of brilliant, actually.
Agent Jess Fallon gets a kick-ass scene in this comic as well. She seems like a hard nosed, no nonsense federal agent and I am very excited to see what Ron has in store for her in issue #2.
I also wanted to mention how cool it was to have the scene in the dressing room with all the girls. These girls have real problems. Some of them are doing what they have to to make ends meet and raise their kids as single mothers, others are trying to put themselves through college. While this may not be the situation for all the women that work in the sex industry, it is a reality for a lot of them. This scene not only gave these women depth, it made me care about them as people. Women who are doing what they have to in order to survive; which, to a certain extent, is a harsh reality.
I strongly disagree with the rating of this comic and I think it's something that needs to be seriously re-evaluated by DC's editorial. Beyond the scenes of Voodoo performing on stage, the comic deals with a lot of sexual and mature content that a lot of people might not be prepared for. This is definitely not a T+ comic and I adamantly believe it should have a "Mature" rating. This, along with several of DC's other books need different, harsher ratings so the reader who picks it up knows what to expect. Believe it or not, DC, kids *do* still read comic books.
This comic should have a mature rating. Having said that, it's pretty good. I think that if this comic had had any other artist it might have altered the rating. Basri does a phenomenal job portraying exotic dancers in a comic in a way that doesn't leave me too uncomfortable. The result is something pretty. Unfortunately, I worry that a lot of people won't be able to look beyond the surface of this issue at a story that has the potential to be really interesting. It's a little bit of horror, suspense and action all rolled into one, and the last three pages of this comic made it all worth it. Nicely done, Ron Marz and I'm looking forward to the second issue.