DV8: Gods and Monsters #1

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Rebekah Isaacs
32 pages, color
Published by Wildstorm/DC Comics

I’m not what you’d call a long-time fan of DV8. I read the first ten issues of the series back in the day, but the writer who came on board after Warren Ellis didn’t interest me enough to stick around once Ellis and Humberto Ramos were gone. Reading interviews about Brian Wood and Rebekah Isaacs’s revamp mini-series intrigued my interest, though; maybe it’s because Wood has tried for several years to bring DV8 back, or maybe because the idea of superheroes viewed as gods had enough potential that I wanted to see where the creators would go with it. Considering how well Wood and Isaacs worked together on DMZ #50, it was definitely worth taking a look. And while it’s a slow start, there’s enough here to keep interest levels high.

DV8: Gods and Monsters #1 opens with what is most likely the end of the series, placing team member Copycat in a containment cell and being debriefed on what happened to her and the rest of the team on an alien world that they were unceremoniously dumped on. It’s not a bad opening to the series; we see almost instantly that this is a story that is going to end badly for the people on the planet, but beyond that tells us nothing too far in advance. Wood has the story paced so that Copycat herself was placed on the world after the other seven members of her team, and most of the issue is Copycat relating what Frostbite told her happened. It’s less actual narrative and more narration, telling rather than showing. It’s a fast way to get Wood to where he wants the book, with the various DV8 characters being worshipped as gods by different tribes on the planet, but the one problem with this is the lack of emotional hook for the reader. It’s told in a dispassionate manner, so for someone like myself who hasn’t been counting the days for the return of DV8, there isn’t that instant moment of wanting to see more of these characters.

On the plus side, once things do get rolling, Wood starts whetting the appetite. The final two pages of the issue are the big hook, as Wood runs down seven of the eight members of DV8 and how each of them in their own way would be perceived as a god by the primitive inhabitants of this world. (I was amused that the one character that I’ve never read about before and post-dated the Ellis and Ramos run, Freestyle, is the only one not included in this run down.) He presents them more as iconic figures, and when looked at in that light it’s easy to see how each of the members of the team could be taken as a god, albeit as a dangerous one. It’s the start of exactly what I was looking for in the series, and it makes me more eager to see the remaining seven issues.

Strong from start to finish for me was Isaacs’s work, something I only recently became familiar with through her short story in DMZ #50. It’s a clean, strong style, with full bodied figures and crisp lines to create the characters. It’s actually some of the quieter moments that struck me almost instantly when reading DV8: Gods and Monsters #1; when Evo runs off and Freestyle yells at him to come back, the remaining five team members staring her down struck a wonderfully eerie tone. You get the sense that Freestyle’s attempts to bring Evo back are being beaten down on an emotional level, bullied into letting him go into the night. It’s a simple but effective staging of a scene that might not have carried the same weight otherwise.

DV8: Gods and Monsters #1 is off to a slow start, but by the end there’s enough carefully placed onto the page to make me want to read the second issue. And, since this issue was primarily set-up, I have high hopes that the series will grab my attention even more in the following issues. If nothing else, it’s nice to see a non-post-apocalyptic Wildstorm title on the shelves. And for past DV8 fans, well, it looks like all your prayers are finally answered.

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