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Dr. Horrible #1 [Review]


Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Dr. Horrible

When Captain Hammer foils Dr. Horrible’s plan to blow up parking meters, Horrible must find a way to balance things out to take on his noisy new nemesis.

drhorrible001 Story by: Zack Whedon
Art by: Joelle Jones
Colors by: Dan Jackson
Letters by: Nate Piekos
Cover art by: Kristian Donaldson
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

I’ve been a fan of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog since the first time I saw it with a friend last year. It came across as a great "origin story" of sorts, introducing a number of characters, their relationships, and motivations…especially for Billy himself–what it was that changed him from a fairly cheesy wannabe-villain into a much darker figure able to run with the most evil group of villains known–the Evil League of Evil.

I’d read a really brief "short story" that was done for some online project (MySpace Comics?) featuring the good Doctor and his nemesis, Captain Hammer; it seemed like more of a tease than anything else, and it seemed such a shame that there wasn’t a "real" comic for the character.

Several months ago, I was quite pleased to learn that as part of a series of one-shots Dark Horse was putting out, there would be a Dr. Horrible issue, written by Zack Whedon, that would show some of Billy’s backstory, and things that led to the story we got in the musical.

So of course, there’s all this expectation driving the standard quite high, even before ever holding the issue in my hands. Normally this can be pretty disastrous for a comic, as expectation almost always outweighs actuality by a large margin.

However, this issue measured up quite well. We begin with a scene from Billy’s youth, as he’s bullied by a kid who doesn’t "get" that Billy is smarter than him. The young Billy also sees the fall of a hero to the genius of a scientific mind, and learns from that man’s failings (though he defeated the Hero, he was unable to unite people to his Cause). 20 years later, Billy is feeding explosives into the city’s parking meters–the destruction of which will disrupt funding and bring the government to its knees. This leads to the first meeting between Billy and Captain Hammer, and a cameo of Bad Horse (and the "terrible, death whinny"). There’s a brief interlude as Billy does his laundry, and "meets" Penny, the girl of his dreams who he has yet to connect with. Meanwhile–knowing he can’t match Hammer’s brawn on his own, Billy creates a potion to give him matching strength…but the potion has unintended side-effects…and from here we see the beginnings of the Freeze Ray.

Everything’s here, really…the personalities of Billy and Captain Hammer shine through nicely, the "minor" characters carry their own presence, and the general situations feel like they’d fit well into what we already know in the musical. The primary drawback of this comic is that it lacks audio.

Particularly as this is specifically a one-shot, and a "prequel" of sorts, this is a great piece for fans of Dr. Horrible. The story elements are a particular draw, getting what ought to be "canon" regarding the characters.

At the same time, the art plays a huge role, and Joelle Jones manages to bring a look to the characters that is both its own thing–they look and feel like comic characters–and yet captures a look that evokes the appearance of the actors that played the live-action versions.

All in all, I definitely would recommend this to any fans of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. It may be of some enjoyment to those unfamiliar with the original property, but much of the charm and "in-knowledge" that informs this issue would likely be lost. Then again, if one reads this and goes to the source material, it may make for a much different viewing experience.

Ratings:

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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