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Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #4

Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2010
By: Paul Brian McCoy

Rick Remender
Jefte Palo, Alessandro Vitti
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #4 arrives in stores tomorrow, January 20.

So let me get this straight. On Christmas Eve, Marvel.com posted an interview with Rick Remender about how Doctor Voodoo is facing off with Nightmare, discussing how much Remender likes the potential of the villain. Then, casually, as though it was common knowledge, at the end of the interview, he says, "While the series is concluding with issue #5, Jericho is very much a part of the Avengers universe and will continue to be a presence in upcoming events."

But the news of this cancellation didn't seem to be anywhere else and it was only being discussed on a message board or two.

Then, Comic Book Resources posted another interview with Remender on January 5, where the cancellation is, again, casually mentioned as the article concludes.

And again, there is some chatter on message boards, mostly about how crap the character is or how Marvel is incompetent when it comes to marketing. You know how message boards are.

Now, on Twitter, Remender says, the "[s]eries was changed to a mini months before 1 shipped." Well, apparently Marvel just decided not to mention it to anyone, because all the promotional materials and interviews right up to the debut were calling it an ongoing series. CBR called it a new ongoing series on September 28, just a week before the series premiere.

Tom Brevoort has recently said that they just got "carried away." It should have always been a limited series.

(This just in: S.W.O.R.D. is also canceled at issue #5. Now back to our regularly scheduled review...)

So that's all the bitching I'm gonna do. Just present the facts and move on.

It's not like the series is really living up to its potential so far anyway.

Oh don't get me wrong. It's not bad at all, but I think the story should have started smaller before building up to a Marvel Magical Guest-Star Extravaganza. Also, the sheer scale of Nightmare's incursion into reality is so huge that the lack of reference anywhere else in a highly integrated Marvel Universe damages the build-up of tension. It doesn't seem to be affecting anyone or anything else in the MU, even though most of the characters who appear in the book are highly active throughout the rest of the Marvel line.

As much as I hate to be one of "those people," I'm afraid I have to agree with a vocal contingent of the internet criticism of the cancellation: This is a Mighty Marvel Marketing Mishap.

Hmm. I guess I am going to bitch some.

Setting up the series as a mini from the beginning would have automatically created at least a sense of narrative isolation from the ongoing Marvel line, probably locked it in to a six-issue format, and allowed the story to build into the world/reality-threatening chaos that we've gotten with this and the previous issue. It would also have allowed for more focused character development on everyone's part. Maybe we could have seen some of those supporting characters mentioned so often in the pre-release interviews. Instead, it feels like the comic was dropped into the deep end of the pool and expected to magically create a fanbase out of thin air.

Now, wrapping up the story at five issues feels forced and whether it happened this way or not, makes the story seem rushed and undermines plot developments, making them anticlimactic. For example, the entrance into Bondye, "the first in centuries," as Doctor Voodoo narrates, becomes, not an introduction to the Voodoo pantheon that we're expecting and looking forward to, nor is it even dangerous, but instead becomes a literal Deus Ex Machina for next issue's conclusion.

If this is how it was always planned, then it's disappointing. If this is because of the cancellation, then it's acceptable, but not ideal.

Visually, this is still a treat, even with the horrendous hairdo of Nightmare. Palo does a good job with the wide variety of guest-appearances and has a real flair for body language. I would love to have seen this story allowed to breathe a little, both narratively and artistically. My favorite artwork this issue, though, has been by Vitti in the flashbacks. It has a little more of an animated feel to the way everything is exaggerated, but the line work is cleaner and more expressive, just as it was during his stint on Secret Warriors. What Palo does with the body language, Vitti does with facial expressions.

I hope that after Doctor Voodoo gets some more exposure in whatever new Avengers incarnation he shows up in, that we might get to see a better planned return to the character. I really want to see where Remender was going with this. I guess an ongoing series was always a bit much to hope for when even the original Sorcerer Supreme can't sustain an ongoing anymore.







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