Monday, April 29, 2013

Voodoo That Fails to Spellbind

Dominique Laveau, Voodoo Child (Volume 1:  Requiem)

Written by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds

Illustrated by Denys Cowan

Published by Vertigo

3 Out of 5 Stars

It seems almost unfair to rate Dominique Laveau, Voodoo Child based upon the 7 issues released by Vertigo before its cancellation.  The problem for me is whether or not to rate the series on what it could have been if it had been given the time to develop its storyline and flesh out its characters, or to rate it based upon what we've got.

In the end, I'm going with what we've got because Dominique Laveau, Voodoo Child brought about its own early demise.  The story places Dominique Laveau in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  The series starts out strong enough, with Dominique soon finding out that she is actually a direct descendant of Marie Laveau, the famous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, and therefore the rightful leader of the secretive Voodoo Court.  The only problem is she's also the prime suspect in the deaths of several Court members.

There's a lot of flashback throughout the work, some of it confusing and unnecessary.  The best parts occur when Dominique is brought into contact with Marie Laveau and her history, as well as several of the deities of Voodoo.  However, these parts are obscured by unclear motivations and a shorthand way of introducing the deities and their importance to an audience who likely know little of the Loa.  It's not long before the series seems directionless and without focus.  If only it had taken more time to let Dominique's story unfold--so much is packed into each issue (new characters, new deities, new background) that nothing has a chance to fully develop or grab the reader.

All of this is incredibly frustrating because there was so much potential here for something fresh and new.  While I'm disappointed Vertigo didn't give it more of a chance, in the end it was the narrative's inability to find its footing more quickly and connect with its audience that's to blame.

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