Thursday, May 17, 2007

Caught In A Web: Dominic Deegan, Oracle For Hire

Another old favorite of mine, though unlike "Something Positive", the shine's starting to come off a bit. The issue I have with "Dominic Deegan" is its manga-esque tendency to swerve from emotional extreme to emotional extreme; things are either bizarrely optimstic or morosely depressing, and the author has never really found middle ground, so to speak. A relatively light-hearted story about a crime wave being foiled ended with slit throats and lots of blood before curving back to optimism again (good guys win, best friends part amicably, blah blah blah). Jacob Deegan's past appearance involved the attempted murder of his younger brothers, and when he turned up a few weeks ago it was all puns and giggles. Very abrupt, very jarring.

Of course, I can't discount my own experience when evaluating this series: when I first discovered "Dominic Deegan", it was building up to "The Storm of Souls", a very intense and kinetic storyline centered around a climactic confrontation between good and evil. The storyline before that had Nurse Pam being assaulted by a bunch of jocks; prior to that, Dominic and Luna were caught up in a treacherous scheme involving demonic possession, orgies, serial killings and a psychotic Infernomancer. In other words, my initial expectations of the series were founded on the belief that it was transitioning from comedy to drama, from light to dark, and that the series was "growing up" in a sense. Now, several storylines later, it's starting to look like that transition wasn't as complete as I thought; indeed, it's altogether possible there was never any deliberate shift in the first place, that I mistook coincidental arc placement for deliberate progression.

That realization stems primarily from Mookie's (the author's) aversion to taking risks with his cast - if you run a whole storyline about a cataclysmic war in Hell, and the only casualty is an obnoxious third-stringer who was designed to be hated, you might be holding on a bit too tightly. Even the villains keep coming back again and again. Fake-outs (where you think a character's been killed, only to discover they miraculously survived the next day) have been used so often at this point that it's hard to be genuinely invested in any storyline that suggests a real threat to the protagonists and their relationship; this just isn't the kind of comic where such threats could even come close to fulfillment.

That said, "Dominic Deegan" has a lot going for it: the art is cute without being cloying, the puns are always fun to groan at, and Mookie never finds himself at a loss for a new angle. And if it's not as mature as it could be, and if the shifting tone can get a bit erratic at times, it's still worth reading in the long run.