More catch-up reading, this time the short lived Vertigo series Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child created by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds & Denys Cowan (with John Floyd doing most of the inking). It's an atmospheric New Orleans story about a magical voodoo dynasty that ran for seven issues. There was a short introductory story in the anthology The Unexpected, which opens the collection. I'm not sure it did the series any favors. Although it sets up the family history and the central conflict in the series, it's a confusing, mystical little tale that doesn't stand up by itself: more off-putting than intriguing, at least for me. The series opens up in the present, with the contemporary Dominique on the run from a werewolf. That's only the first of many mystical elements central to the story, including loas (Vodou spirits), vampires (although they don't appear in the first few issues), and a Voodoo Court that operates behind the scenes to keep the supernatural beings in balance.
It's a lot of suspension of disbelief to ask of the reader, even a longtime Vertigo reader like me. The New Orleans setting (post-Katrina in the present) helps. This kind of lore has long been associated with the city, plus it offers lots of visual appeal for the artist.
I started this in the "Comics Read Today" thread, but I thought I should make it a separate discussion. I seem to remember some Legionnaires reading it monthly. Having read to the conclusion, I have to say that there are many signs of rushing due to cancellation. Hinds and Cowan devoted a fair amount of story time setting up Dominique's involvement with Tasha and Tayshawn, two young homeless Katrina orphans. Tasha appears in the final issue at Dominique's side, a sign of the developing relationship that had been planned for the ongoing series. Likewise there's Dominique's policeman boyfriend Allan. He figures pretty prominently in the early issues, then has his memories of Dominique and the Voodoo Court erased. She promises to make things right, but never gets a chance.
The title arc occupied the first five issues, and tells the story of Dominique's trials and ascension to Voodoo Queen. It's a complete story (even says "Finis" at the end), even though it must have been intended to be the basis for the rest of the series. Instead we get a standalone story about Black Benny, and the series-ending "Ascension." Set six years from the beginning of the series (in 2012), it fast-forwards through Dominique's reign to show the end of her Court. Although it's nice to get an ending, it does feel abrupt. It reads like it may have been the planned conclusion to a much longer series. Even so, the possibility of further stories is left open. As Dominique ascends (to the spirit world, I suppose) she declares "You will see me again."
Maybe I'll pick the rest of the series up someday, if I see it in a cheapie bin. I read the first two issues, and even for me -- a guy who pretty much *loves* anything to do wit New Orleans -- I found the story pretty amateurish and unsatisfying. Cowan's art was eye-catching -- it was great to see his work again -- but I don't think he was served well by the writer at all.
Yeah, I thought the storytelling was weak overall. Hinds starts out going in several directions at once, and never does settle on a focus. After the issues you read Dominique undergoes a spirit trial with the loas that also failed to fully engage me. Part of the problem is my complete lack of interest in voodoo beliefs--I just barely tolerated them in small doses in Hellblazer and The Invisibles--but better writing could have overcome that. Nevertheless, given your love of N.O. I would recommend the bargain bins. I'm sure there would be enough to interest you.
Thanks, Mark. I've always liked voodoo -- but from my experience with the first issues, I'll definitely be driven more by curiosity than by enjoyment. I was certain it would be my number one pick out of that wave of Vertigo titles, but it wound up dead last. The New Deadwardians -- a book I'd planned on skipping entirely -- became my favorite of the bunch.