(Dark Horse Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by Donny Cates & Mark Reznicek
Artwork by Geoff Shaw
Color Artwork by Lauren Affe
Buzzkill is the story of one addict’s journey to get clean and sober while dealing with the day to day problems of friends (his have names like; Captain Chrome, Panteradactyl, High Guard, Ms. Murder and Battery), relationships (his best friend is now involved with ex) family (his father may be trying to kill him) and did I mention he is a super hero whose powers are fueled by the very mood and mind altering substances he is now trying to quit? His name is Francis but to most of the world he is known as Rueben, that’s the name he used to introduce himself to his 12 step group back in the first issue of this incredibly genuine, amazingly innovative, fearlessly inspired and downright entertaining four issue mini-series written by Donny Cates and Mark Reznicek with some of the best artwork on the racks today courtesy of the mega-talented Geoff Shaw. Shaw’s kinetically emotive style calls to mind the equally brilliant work of Sean Murphy, both artists have an energy that vibrates off the page.
In this issue Ruben’s sponsor, a new age-y Dr. Strange-type guy with teleportation powers and a dream catcher around his neck, named Dr. Blaqk is helping him work through the first of the twelve steps. However when Ruben attempts to make amends with his less than receptive ex-girlfriend Nikki things go from bad to worse faster than a speeding speedball when he catches his best friend and fellow super hero, Eric coming in Nikki’s window. The betrayal shatters Ruben’s fragile sobriety and a real Donnybrook breaks out between the two former super powered pals. Ruben takes the brunt of the beating since he was not under the influence of any substance at the time he had no enhanced abilities which gave this bout the lopsided odds of Tyson versus Andy Dick. As pulse-pounding as this scene is it pales in comparison to the big final page pay-off, suffice to say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in this family.
Cates dialogue is so spot-on, he really gives these characters heart and individual voices that reflect fully actualized characters, and even the villains don’t feel like single issue fodder to be beaten on then relegated to the has-been file for future use, they all feel like they have major stories just waiting to see the light of day. Reznicek and Cates together have constructed quite an intriguing narrative based on a truly original premise that resonates with true heart-felt emotion as it deals with a topic affecting millions of people but these two gifted writers have approached it in a way that is entertaining as well as enlightening without being preachy. My life has been impacted on a very deep level by the disease of addition and I’ve lost a loved one to this insidious disorder, so what these guys are doing by shedding light on a controversial subject through the use of super hero tropes is nothing short of genius in my opinion. They are educating while entertaining and you can’t ask for more than that.
Buzzkill is action packed with all the super powered pummeling and razor sharp banter you have come to expect from any top notch drug addled super hero book, this one is truly in a class by itself. Cates and Reznicek have created a character you can cheer for as he not only vanquishes the world’s demons but his own as well. I hope this is just the beginning for Buzzkill and this talented creative team; I would love to add a Buzzkill monthly series to my pull list. As for the career of Geoff Shaw, the word skyrocket comes to mind. He is truly the most exciting artist I have seen in a while, not since Tradd Moore have I seen a more promising artist hit the scene with such refreshingly energetic style. I hope we get to see a lot more work from this guy.
Overall Buzzkill is utterly satisfying and thoroughly entertaining. It’s poignant at times but with genuine heart and a sense of humor. So if you love super hero comics but want to try something a little different without giving up the tropes of the genre we all love so well, try this. You’ll be back for more, I don’t always read super hero books about drug addicted heroes but when I do I read Buzzkill, stay super my friends. Until next time, see you at the comic book store. (4.8/5)
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629