“Buzzkill” has a lot on its chest. Ruben pushes through his AA meeting in an attempt to walk away from his superhero past, but his past comes back to haunt him in a big bad way. This series continues to impress and surprise. The narrative kicks into high gear and still remains an uncompromising look at addiction. The incredibly visceral art by Geoff Shaw makes the whole thing amount to a fantastically paced mixture of superhero action and comedic insight on addiction.
Donny Cates could have really taken the easy way out with “Buzzkill.” The premise alone is perfect to stake its claim in comic history. Instead of simply being the hero powered by drugs and alcohol, Cates opts for a more complex look at the effects of superherodom, and addiction itself. They are almost paralleled perfectly in the climax of the issue. Walking away from the addiction of one is walking away from the addiction of both. Each addiction will do its damndest to drag Ruben back into the depths of personal hell.
Ruben powers and past are the center of the story this month. We learn about how various substances affect him differently. He derives diverse abilities based on his abuse of choice. It’s wonderfully simple and incredibly engaging to deepen Ruben’s powers and addiction.
Cates even treats us to a multitude of off the wall super-villains. The tropes of the genre come bursting off the page, but are beat back with incredible writing. The book teeters on the edge of becoming a parody of the genre, before delving right back into what makes it original.
Within this moment of near parody, Shaw’s art hits with full force. Ruben finds himself drinking again, and attempts to stand up for himself after having his ass grafted to the pavement. The visceral nature of Shaw’s line work and the jagged paneling makes the fighting seem sloppy and unrefined, like the action’s had one too many drinks. There is a certain edge to the art that throws you in and holds you down. Shaw’s work not only compliments the script but also makes it better.
The reveal of the new character is handled in a wonderful way. Cates use of the fixtures of addiction is the most alluring part of the book. Shaw’s depiction of Ruben and Doctor Blaqk’s first meeting is genius. The facial expressions tell you everything about the moods behind the words. I found myself completely in love with a character who had only been introduced a page before, it’s a hard task to pull off but Cates and Shaw make it look easy.
“Buzzkill” is unlike anything else you are reading. It’s intelligent, action packed, and offers a realistic look at addiction. By the end of the issue you’ll find yourself fighting off the shakes in anticipation of your next fix.
Rating 4.5/5 Skulls.