Sunday, October 2, 2011

Voodoo #1 - A Review

Having finished reading Voodoo #1, I find myself asking one question - why am I not more offended by this? It’s a fair question. By all rights, I should hate this. How is it that a book which opens with a splash-page of the title character on her hands and knees, where all but one of the female characters are strippers, is less offensive to my feminist ideals than Catwoman #1 and Red Hood and The Outlaws #1?

At first glance, the art by Sami Basri would seem to inspire outrage. Save for one brief scene in a hotel room and one fight in an alleyway, nearly the entire story takes place in the confines of a strip-club and is drawn appropriately, with attractive women in various states of undress. Yet Basri does not draw these women in an exploitative fashion. They are all of plausible proportion, with none of the characters looking cartoonish. It also helps that Basri is a good visual storyteller who draws each woman as a body in motion, with hardly any panels past the first page above looking the least bit posed or pin-upish.

Perhaps the answer lies in the script by Ron Marz? Marz has some experience writing strong women in skimpy costumes, having authored the Witchblade comic for a number of years. Maybe that is what makes the difference because while there is a lot of skin in this book and it earns its’ T+ rating, Marz doesn’t revel in the setting. While every woman in this comic save one is a stripper, there is an honest attempt to portray every single woman in this book with a speaking role as a living, breathing person with relatable concerns rather than a sex object to be exploited.

Most of the issue centers upon Special Agents Tyler Evans and Jessica Fallon, who have been assigned to monitor dancer Priscilla “Voodoo” Kitaen who is suspected of being an extraterrestrial spy. Evans is a bit of a pig, who is enjoying his assignment to stakeout a strip club FAR too much, much to the annoyance of his partner. Meanwhile, we find that Pris is a talented dancer but not the most popular woman among her fellow performers due to her detached nature and refusal to get involved in others’ problems. Beyond that, I can say little without revealing a surprising spoiler on the final pages which suggests that the strip-club setting of this book is strictly temporary.

Last week, during the hubbub over sexism on the comic page, I heard several people say they were unwilling to give this book a shot purely on the artwork and the scenario. This is unfortunate because while this book isn’t quite my cup of tea, nothing in this book is as offensive as what was done to Starfire or Catwoman. The art is sexual without being sexist and the script treats its’ heroine and her stripper colleagues as real people. I’d give it another issue or two to confirm my suspicions but I suspect this book may surprise us all in the end.

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