Right before the launch of DC’s “New 52,” co-publisher Dan Didio bragged to The Advocate about how DC’s new universe was going to reflect the diversity of its readership. Along with our beloved Batwoman, he named new headliner Voodoo as a queer lady to watch. And oh, I got excited. An African American bisexual woman with her own solo title? It had to be good!
And then I picked up the first issue.
Voodoo isn’t exactly human. She’s a shape-shifting alien who takes the form of a stunning African American woman. And she’s a stripper. You know how I know she’s a stripper? Because in Voodoo #1 she stripped. And stripped. And stripped and stripped and stripped and stripped. For 16 of the issue’s 20 pages, she lap-danced and pole-danced and stage-danced and took off her clothes and put on her clothes and be-bopped around in the dressing room with other naked strippers — and then she stripped some more. The issue actually opens with her crawling on her hands and knees through a pile of sweaty cash, staring down the reader while some kind of stripper MC smarms about, “You know you want her, you know you love her, you know you can’t take your eyes off her!”
Of all the gratuitous bulls–t DC pulled with the female characters in their relaunch — I’m looking at you, splash page of Catwoman doing it with Batman — Voodoo #1 was the worst. Which is a bummer on so many different levels. For one thing, Voodoo is the only woman of color and one of only two queer ladies with her own title. For another thing, the narrative potential and the art are stellar. I mean, there’s a really interesting story to be told here, but I couldn’t get into it even a little bit because of the 16 PAGES of stripping.
Voodoo #2 hit comic shops today, and while the cover reminded me why the hilarious ladies over at DC Women Kicking Ass have dubbed her “Boobsdoo,” the issue as a whole is significantly better. (Just by virtue of the fact that she’s wearing clothes — any clothes at all! — it’s a marked improvement!) Sure, we spend ten pages in bed with Agent Tyler and Agent Evans, but it turns out we’re actually spending 10 pages in bed with Voodoo and Agent Evans. Voodoo killed Tyler then shape-shifted into him so she could seduce his female partner for information.
Which is kind of fascinating, right? Voodoo even says she almost feels something for Agent Evans. Almost. And then she decides that’s pathetic.
The last ten pages cover the confrontation between Evans and Voodoo (in her female body, which, interestingly, compels Evans to say, “You look like yourself.”) Like I said, the story actually could be kind of rad, especially if you consider all the implications for sexual orientation, gender identity and gender presentation. Unfortunately, the majority of the art work so far has been so friggin’ objectifying that I have a hard time believing DC is marketing this book to anyone who wants to think about gender and sexuality theory. Or, you know, anyone with a brain.
Voodoo could be good. Really, really good. But right now DC is aiming for the “horny straight dude” audience. I’ll keep my eye on it; it is, after all, a solo title about a queer woman of color. But I wouldn’t recommend it right now. And if the gratuitous boob-ed out covers of the next three issues are any indication, I won’t be recommending Voodoo at all, ever.
Have you guys read Voodoo #1/#2? What do you think her solo title so far?