Review: Buzzkill #4 (of 4)

Well, Dustin was right; this final installment of Buzzkill is certainly not a knee-slapper.  It is, however an epic conclusion to one of the most refreshing books I’ve read this year.  The book starts out with a flashback to where Francis is just a little kid (Francis is the real name of “Ruben” or Brutal Juice when he’s his superhero self).  He’s playing with action figures in the basement, of course one’s a hero and one’s a villain. His dad, Courtland, comes down (who we now know currently, Francis about to have a fight for his life with) and is asking what Francis is doing, and if he’s playing with dolls.  One thing Dustin pointed out last month that I agree strongly with is that the character interactions in this story are very real.  You can tell that Francis, as a young child (and even now) was intimidated by his father.  He stutters in his speech and apologizes automatically, even though he’s doing nothing wrong and just being a kid.  Francis has a frightened look on his face when his dad yells his name, and he tries to hide what he was doing by putting the figures away.  But his dad gets there first, and asks Francis if he’s a bad guy or a good guy.  Of course Francis responds that he’s a good guy.  However, Courtland says that heroes are born heroes.  He mentions how Francis was born, and it’s implied that she died giving birth to Francis.  Courtland asks Francis if that’s something good guys do, and Francis says no.  Then we see Courtland handing Francis the villain doll and walk away.  This was the best opening to this last issue I could’ve hoped for, I was instantly drawn in.

Buzzkill #4 CoverWe’re then sent back to the present, where Francis is now facing his dad in the hospital.  You can tell that Francis still has psychological issues due to the way his dad treated him as a child.  When he’s trying to stick up to his dad, he says “D-Don’t m-make me,” which Courtland calls him out for.  I really like the fact that this is a superhero-themed book, but as we can see Francis is just a normal guy.  He wants to be sober again so he can go move on with his life and do better for himself.  His dad knows that he’s been sober for a while now, so Francis is basically powerless.  Courtland takes Francis, choke slams him through the hospital wall and flies out into the sky, hovering many stories over the street.  Francis begs Courtland not to do this, but he drops Francis to the ground anyway.  I don’t want to give any than more than that away, but believe me I’d love to talk about it if I could.  That said, I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone, fans of any of the other issues need to pick this conclusion issue up.

The storytelling and pacing of this issue was great, just like it has been this whole series.  Like I mentioned before, although there are superheroes in this story, the main story about overcoming addiction to better yourself and for those you care about is a very organic and very human one.  It’s been a very emotional ride for Francis, especially when it was revealed last issue that Nikki was seeing Eric after her and Francis broke up.  The action in the issue was just as brutal and intense as expected.  The art is also has become some of my favorite that I’ve seen in Dark Horse’s catalog.  Geoff Shaw has a style that I’d instantly be able to recognize if I saw his art in another book, and I think that’s a testament to how unique and refreshing this book is.  Buzzkill is hands-down one of the best if not the best miniseries I’ve read this year.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Donny Cates Artist: Geoff Shaw Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: 3.99 Release Date: 12/18/13