Drink & Fight, or Stay Sober & Die (Buzzkill Review)
Writers: Donny Cates and Mark Reznicek
Artists: Geoff Shaw and Lauren Affe
Publisher: Image comics
Ruben has superpowers, but they do not work like any other typical powered individual, no his powers are tied to whatever drugs he takes into his body. From caffeine, to nicotine, and his particular favorite, alcohol, all give him each a different kind of power. However, after a certain brawl left Ruben so intoxicated he blacked out and recalls none of it, only awaking in the shattered remains of the city. Not knowing how or who was involved, this was his tipping point to going sober and trying to get clean. Trying to follow the steps to recovery, it won’t be easy for Ruben to make the attempt with his old villains waiting to prey on his weakened state, and the ordeal of trying to better himself to everyone who once cared about him. Will his past really catch up to him and cause him to relapse? Or can he finally exorcise the demon in the bottle?
I was drawn to this book from the concept alone, a hero whose powers derive from taking
different substances into their body is fascinating with the right imagination. I also knew going in
something dealing with this kind of subject matter would not be a easy read, and also would not be a happy one. Ruben gets points for making the attempt, deep down beneath all the substance abuse, he really does want to do good and not be a burden and danger to anyone who cares. I felt for his struggle as the ghosts of his past, be it human or substance, constantly haunted him, all the way to the bitter end. Dealing with substance abuse is something both authors Donny Cates and Mark Reznicek have had experience with in the past, either from family or friends. Overcoming addiction and disease is also a recurring theme in many of Donny Cates works, like God Country and Venom. Cates even attended AA meetings to get a perspective for the story, trying to make it feel a little truer to life, even for a story about super heroes.
In only four issues, Ruben goes on winding road to better himself and come to accept his actions, meeting quite a few colorful characters along the way. Besides an obvious Justice League analogue he formerly was a part of, he teams up with his former friend Eric and his sponsor, the eccentric and a little mad Doctor Blaqk. While he may come off a more deranged analogue of one particular strange magician, Blaqk was the funniest character in the book, ranging from Cates’ trademark “internet humor” back to being the sarcastic and witty angel (or devil, depending on who you ask) on Ruben’s
shoulder. By the final issue, the true big bad behind the blackout fight is revealed, and while it will not score points for originality, it does fit with the narrative.
Buzzkill is a story about the uppers and downers of life, through the good and bad. It is about taking responsibility for your actions, acknowledging what you’ve done, and trying to move forward once you have. A hero makes the right choices and lives by a code, and that can be cut and dry in a lot of fiction. But sometimes it isn’t about being a hero for others, it’s about proving to yourself you can do good for yourself.
7 and half cups of hot chocolate out of 10
(A little reference, you'll get it when you read the story)
Available as a trade paperback and digitally on sites like amazon, hoopla, and comixology