Written by Zack Whedon
Art by Joëlle Jones
Can Dr. Horrible still hold up without the singing (or the blogging)?
This one-shot is a heartwarming tale where a boy becomes a mad scientist. It covers the beginnings of our intrepid super villain, from young Billy’s inspiration for villainy to legendary first battles with Captain Hammer.
This book feels close to home with the plot and dialog. Of course, that should come to no surprise. The writer is Zach Whedon, co-creator and co-writer to the original Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (along with brothers Jeb and Joss).
The characters act like continuations of the live-action performances. This has to be the truest for Captain Hammer, whose lines and overall smugness are instantly voiced by Nathan Fillion in the heads of anyone reading this. The other characters don’t invoke their live-action counterparts quite as quickly, which is more a testament of how well Fillion made Hammer’s personality stand out.
The issue also does well maintaining the world of Dr. Horrible and his co-stars. Concepts in the original are shown their start here. Side and small characters show up now and then, even just in the background. In Moist’s case, he actually has something to do, although he doesn’t seem particularly moist aside from some sweat. Where’s his one-shot, or better yet, Johnny Snow’s?
Aside from the original series, the issue continues events from a Captain Hammer one-shot Zack Whedon wrote and Dark Horse published on its MySpace account. Reading it is not necessary at all for this book, but for those who did, they get that always-refreshingly geeky “I remember that” moment.
This book is a great item for the Horrible fans out there, but can someone new enjoy it? Yeah. It’s a prequel after all. You could jump in this cold and not be lost, except for an obvious reference or two, but then that’s why you jump into the series afterward.
The only way this story would have impressed me more would be if large chunks of dialog rhymed, and yes, I looked.
Just as the writing recreates the feel of the series, the art recreates the look. The city streets, the park, the laundry mat, Dr. Horrible’s lab – it all here in a cartoonish form. The colors are all bright and vibrant, fitting the comedic mood. Some backgrounds are overly simplified to simple colors or undetailed shapes. Fine for some panels but not for all the ones that get that treatment.
Character designs match well too, from the proud and pompous Captain Hammer to the pretty and petite Penny. The only problem here is with characters seen over time outside of costumes, namely Billy, suffering from stock clothes syndrome. I hope he washed that hoodie and shirt in that six weeks gap.
There are some other minor problems. Facial features are very exaggerated, which is fine until someone’s eyes are crooked and they stand that much more because of it. There’s also the occasional inconsistency like a missing or flipped hammer logo.
But for every error, the art more than makes up for it with little touches, like a “Made in Taiwan” logo on a toy here and the webcam for the video blog there. It’s not perfect, but it works well enough.
It’s a fun read for any fan of the sing-along like myself. Fans will insert their own songs where they see fit because this book has everything else to make it a good Dr. Horrible story. Now if they could get the cast to come together and record the lines, this might be a motion comic I’d actually approve of.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10