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Buzzkill #2: Relapse

 

Buzzkill #2
Plot: Donny Cates & Mark Reznicek
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: Lauren Affe
Publisher: Dark Horse

Wow.

Remember the review of Buzzkill #1 where you, dear reader, were told there wasn’t much action? That it didn’t feel like a regular comic? Issue numero dos changes that. Or at least, it changes the former. Thankfully, Buzzkill still doesn’t feel like a typical superhero story. Instead, it’s raw.

Issue #2 kicks off with storytime. It’s been a month since “Ruben” first entered AA and he’s telling them all about what-should-have-been rock bottom. We learn why Nikki left Ruben—she was captured by the wonderfully named Brutal Juice (and two “tremendously rabid Kodiak bears”). She’s rescued and we get the next piece of a puzzle. From issue #1, we know Ruben put some other supervillain in the hospital and wrecked a major city. In this flashback (with the same wonderful retro style), we again don’t see what Ruben does, but the after effects. He’s covered in viscera and blood. (This is why you don’t wear a white costume). No wonder Nikki left.Buzzkill #2 Revelation

Back in AA, Ruben drinks regular coffee and things get violent. In any other book, about any other character, this would be an odd turn of events. But alcohol isn’t the only thing that affects Ruben, oh no. Any drug—from caffeine to nicotine—gives him different abilities. Caffeine gives him super-heightened senses. He fingers Wayne as a robot and as any good hero would do, asks him why he’s a robot. A logical question that ends with a fight and continues into a brawl with all of Ruben’s enemies. He’s bailed out by Eric, his pal from issue #1 and a Dr. Blaqk (Dr. Strange sans-MD and sobriety). Turns out Dr. Blaqk was brought in in case of Ruben’s relapse and will be his sponsor. Their’s is a pairing worth reading.

The good here is simple: We learn a ton more about Ruben, especially when he’s his superhero alter-ego. The lead up to his drinking and subsequent fighting builds tension and anticipation wonderfully. The pay-off is there, but it isn’t satisfying. Maybe satisfying isn’t the right word. These criminals, who are literally killing Ruben, get wrecked. Ruben even kills some of them in a horrific manner. This continues the pattern of drinking equalling uncontrollable ultra-violence. It is not depicted as romantic or cool by writer Donny Cates, and it isn’t drawn by Geoff Shaw to glorify Ruben’s actions. That’s the best part of this book. We’re supposed to feel uncomfortable reading and seeing this. This isn’t how superheroes are supposed to fight. The genre is inundated with boy scouts and honorable men, but what are the actual odds that one of them would ever get superpowers?

Just like last month, buy Buzzkill #2. You’ll be doing yourself, and good comic books, a favor by supporting it.


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