Review – Buzzkill TP (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Story: Donny Cates, Mark Reznicek
Art: Geoff Shaw, Lauren Affe
Release Date: September 27, 2017

Originally released by Dark Horse Comics back in 2013, Buzzkill – a fantastically unconventional superhero story from Donny Cates, Mark Reznicek, Geoff Shaw and Lauren Affe – gets the trade paperback release this week courtesy of Image Comics, and boy is it worth a look.

For those who missed it first time around, Buzzkill tells the story of “Ruben”, a hero who, somewhat unusually, gets his superpowers through the consumption of drugs and alcohol. However, following a particularly dark bout of crime fighting where he ends up blacking out, saving the world but with no memory of what actually happened, he decides to go sober, joining Alcoholics Anonymous and trying to pull his life together before it’s too late.

It’s a darkly comic, surprisingly emotive and excessively violent affair, and serves very much as a spiritual and thematic successor to The Paybacks, even featuring a few familiar faces from the popular (around these parts, anyway) ‘superhero repo men’-based series. It’s no secret that Cates is strapped to a rocket and heading to the comic book stratosphere right now, but it’s great seeing him working so well alongside Reznicek to create this unrelenting, morbidly humorous and utterly gripping four-part series. Yes, there’s some roughness to the narrative, and not all the storyline beats hit their mark perfectly, but the brisk pace and intriguing leading man help to cover a multitude of sins, leaving Buzzkill as a thoroughly enjoyable read.

It’s also great to see the slightly less refined, if no less energetic, artwork of Geoff Shaw here. While the majority of comic readers will be familiar with his work on God Country, this is a far more raw, far more frantic Shaw, and the way he tackles the action-filled skirmishes in this particular book is truly a thing of beauty. He fully embraces the blood and carnage of jacked-up superhero combat, and while the level of detail and expression on his characters’ faces is still very much present, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Shaw attack the page with this level of reckless abandon before.

He also continues to work seamlessly with frequent collaborator Lauren Affe, whose rich colours have honestly never looked better. As is becoming a bit of a recurring theme, there’s a rough, frantic feel to the pages, and it’s difficult at times to figure out whether this a by-product of the story itself or simply the result of this group of creators learning how best to work together. Whatever it is, it’s absolutely intoxicating.

The story plays out smartly and briskly, with the creators poking a little fun at the overly serious world of superheroes, lampooning everyone from Batman to Doctor Strange as they build a surprisingly well realised world around Reuben and his destructive addiction. It’s also thrilling to see the genesis of the incredibly productive Cates/Shaw partnership play out in such a dynamic fashion, and if God Country was a smooth, elegant glass of Southern whisky, Buzzkill is a row of flaming tequila shots just begging to be downed. Brutal, humorous and visually striking, this one comes highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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