In a world where new ideas have almost entirely ceased to exist, and old ideas seem to get browbeaten into absurdity, it’s really awesome to see something fresh take hold.
This week’s feature is a Dark Horse Comics miniseries that recently concluded that I believe really shows off something fresh: Buzzkill, from Donny Cates, Mark Rezineck, and Geoff Shaw.
The core concept isn’t exactly new. The protagonist is a superhero who gains all of his powers from drugs and alcohol. Superhuman powers that come from substances are old hat, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn novels feature “metal burning,” where every different metal alloy gives certain people different powers when consumed. Even illicit substance abuse giving one powers has been done before, a la Drunken Master.
What’s new about Buzzkill is that the guy who is “super human” because of his substance abuse is trying to get clean. He’s quitting the chemicals and, as a result, trying to quit the superhero game.
The really remarkable and fresh thing about Buzzkill though, isn’t that the protagonist is trying to get clean, it’s that in no point during the story is his addiction the setup to or punchline for a joke. It’s not funny. The character legitimately wants to get clean. He relapses from time to time, like anybody would, but he copes with the regret, too, like anybody would.
The book isn’t completely devoid of comedy. The hero’s sponsor is like some sort of twisted combination of Dr. Strange, a motivational speaker, and the most obnoxious hippy you’ve ever met. He’s good for some yuks, but even he doesn’t mess around with the fact that the guy he’s looking after is in a self-destructive pattern and needs to get it straightened out.
Ultimately, at only 4 issues, Buzzkill is too short. I would have loved if they had made it a bit longer and fleshed out a bit more of the backstory, but really that’s a good problem to have. It leaves you wanting more instead of ruining it’s own concept with over-saturation.
If your local comic book shop has a good selection of backlogs, dive in and see what you missed. Otherwise, look for it in trade sometime in April.