It’s been an exciting year for Dark Horse as they’ve tried to challenge the Big 2 by expanding their reach into the superhero genre. Although Dark Horse has always had a flagship “superhero” in Hellboy they’ve never been a contender in that department because Hellboy’s been more a supernatural book than the “proper” capes and spandex superhero. Although they’ve had some success with Captain Midnight, X, Ghost and Brain Boy, I think Donny Cates and Mark Reznicek’s Buzzkill is the most ambitious of the Dark Horse superhero movement due to the sheer force of its originality. Originality is very hard to find today in modern comics (modern anything really) because it’s such a risk. But getting into the superhero business against the Big 2 is a pretty large risk by itself, so Dark Horse already proves that they’re a little drunk on danger. So does Buzzkill’s original spirit kill Dark Horse’s buzz? (Sorry had to.)
The story begins with Ruben, our protagonist, going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Ruben is no normal alcoholic, for when he drinks or does any kind of drug he gains incredible superpowers. So, on top of trying to kick a self-destructive drug abuse problem, Ruben also has to give up being a superhero. The bulk of the story is Ruben telling his discovery story. I would say origin story, but it really wasn’t that because Ruben never reveals how he actually turns alcohol into super strength or cigarette contents into invulnerability. He doesn’t even tell the other people at AA what drugs do to him or his real name. Without spoiling anything, I'll mention Ruben’s tales of discovery were more horrific than wondrous. Instead of the average “boy finds superpowers, boy uses powers to combat crime” scenario, we find Ruben is more afraid of his new found power than anything. He does eventually take the vigilante path and it’s short flashes of this past that set the stage to make Buzzkill a much more intriguing entry into the superhero genre than we've seen in some time.
Buzzkill does not kill dark horse’s buzz, and even though I don’t think it is connected to the other Dark Horse superhero properties, if they decided to make it part of that larger universe, I think Cates & Reznicek’s creation would find itself uniquely at home. You should definitely take a chance on an original idea instead of pitching your money at some run of the mill villain-based one-shot from another company.
Buzzkill #1: A-