Waiting for the Trade
by Bill Miller
Dr. Horrible: And Other Horrible Storiesby Zack Whedon
collects Dr. Horrible one-shot; three digital comics from MySpace Dark Horse Presents (“Captain Hammer: Be Like Me,” “Moist: Humidity Rising,” and “Penny: Keep Your Head Up.”) and features a new story, “The Evil League of Evil”
Why I Bought This: The Joss Whedon/NPH masterpiece Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is just about the greatest thing in the history of the Internet. I love it, own it on DVD and can’t say enough wonderful things about it. When I saw this graphic novel existed I immediately gave them the full $10 cover price.
The Plot: Five short stories that fill in the back-story on the major characters from the beloved Internet musical, which if you haven’t seen it tells the story of would-be super villain Dr. Horrible and his attempts to find love with the girl at the laundry mat, defeat arrogant super hero Captain Hammer and earn a place in the Evil League of Evil.
Chapter 1 – Captain Hammer signs autographs and beats up Dr. Horrible while advising youngsters to be good citizens by keeping an eye out for nerds since they are most likely to become future super villains.
Chapter 2 – The origin of Moist (Dr. Horrible’s sidekick). He had dry skin as a child, so his father bought a radioactive humidifier. Using it imbued him with his super power which is to be drip water from his skin. Later as a disillusioned adult he stumbles upon a Dr. Horrible- Captain Hammer fight and even though Dr. Horrible loses Moist is suitably impressed to offer to be his henchman.
Chapter 3 – Despite her socially conscious activities Penny finds herself alone in the big city. She attempts to date but it’s disastrous. Later at the laundry mat we see she thinks Dr. Horrible in his civilian identity is “cute” but he is too shy to talk to her.
Chapter 4 – When all of the A-list superheroes take a group vacation the Evil League of Evil launches a massive attack on the city. Would be heroes Johnny Snow and James Flame attempt to intervene, arriving separately. Flame is taken down with ease, but Snow is able to thwart the league’s attempt to put toxic waste in the water supply by freezing the city’s water supply. This causes the citizens of the city to assume he’s a villain too. Flame wakes up and thaws the pipes becoming the hero of the day much to Snow’s chagrin.
Chapter 5 – We see how Dr. Horrible was bullied as a child in sixth grade. One day there’s a superhero/super villain fight outside the school and the mad scientist super villain wins thus inspiring the young Dr. Horrible. 20 years later we see the first battle between Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer as Hammer thwarts a not terribly well thought out plan to blow up the city’s parking meters. We see a little of his infatuation with Penny followed by the ending of another fight with Hammer. In this fight Horrible manages to snatch some of Hammer’s hair before being punched across the city. He then uses the hair to synthesize a super strength formula. It levels the field and he’s able to pummel the hero but the formula has a side effect that decreases his intellect so Moist reverses the process for him. Of course he does it in the middle of the battle thus allowing Hammer to pound them both. However Horrible is able to reactivate his parking meter bomb plan to provide cover for their escape. Afterwards Horrible sees he has made the newspapers for the first time and is pleased with himself.
Critical Thoughts: Honestly there isn’t much here. Let’s face it, it is kind of hard to translate a comedy musical into a comic book. Especially when that musical is a parody of the whole comic book genre to begin with; it just creates some sort of infinity loop like a snake eating its own head.
Anyway the first three chapters are all too short and thin to have any value at all. Then again they were all first published on MySpace apparently so I’m not sure what else can be expected.
The Evil League of Evil story is laugh out loud funny, and since the League barely appears in the original Internet film there’s plenty of room to flesh them out. This is the best story here by far.
The Dr, Horrible origin piece is okay in a straight-forward comic book way, but it never captures the tone of the original film.
Grade C-. The grade is this high solely because of the how funny the ELE story, the rest of this stuff is clearly D-list at best. Sadly, I can’t even say this collection is worth the $10 cover price.