Back in 2008 Joss Whedon couldn’t really do anything wrong, Buffy, Angel and Firefly were enormously loved, he was one of the co-writers of Toy Story and Speed, and though Serenity hadn’t done great business at the box office it was critically acclaimed. Then he released the Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog musical online which was adored by many, to the extent that a full length sequel was hoped for for a long old time. Jump forward eleven years and things are a little different now, some blame him for the Justice League movie not working out and being tonally inconsistent and there’s been some rather unpleasant stories about his relationships with his wife and other women.
This doesn’t seem to have affected his career too much though, he’s currently making a new show, The Nevers, for HBO and is still highly regarded in the industry. I’m largely still a fan (though admittedly a little uncomfortable about the person he reputedly is) but I have to confess to being hugely disappointed with this comic that he wrote last year, and it’s probably the worst thing that he’s yet created (and yes, I have seen Alien Resurrection as it goes, and secretly like how batshit crazy it is). There have been a couple of Dr Horrible comics published before but they were all part of the Dark Horse Presents anthology, whereas this is the first one shot released under it’s own title.
It’s also the first comic to feature Dr Horrible and co which is a sequel to the Sing-Along Blog, rather than being set before it, which made me hopeful it might be engaging. In it Dr Horrible and Captain Hammer are, as you might have guessed from the title, all of a sudden best friends, hanging out together to and planning to see a Broadway musical, along with teaming up to defeat crime and all of that kind of superhero nonsense. Upon hearing that the alarm has gone off in Dr Horrible’s lab they investigate only to find the villain Hourglass present, but rather than doing anything evil she desperately needs their help after a bit of misguided time travel means that “Time Worms” are chasing her and doing their very best to murder her.
A fair bit of the humour is based around how odd it is that these two disparate characters are now friends, with Dr Horrible seemingly a good guy and a little perplexed as to how much he enjoys being such a thing. When it comes to Captain Hammer he’s still obsessed with sex and bragging about his conquests, but a couple of the jokes made me squirm a little, with one about how he has no issue having sex with a woman while she’s on her period being fairly unpleasant. It’s not that I have any problem with such a thing either, it’s just how it’s presented, and the word play which is used, that is all rather a bit grim.
When they decide to attempt to travel back in time there’s a vaguely amusing joke about how Captain Hammer wants to save the tv show Reign from being cancelled, and in a dream sequence Dr Horrible is visited by an imaginary version of his deceased love Penny, who then lists all the reasons why Horrible and Hammer shouldn’t be friends which made me smile, but otherwise the humour is somewhat lacking. At the end there’s a reset button pushed which returns Captain Hammer and Dr Horrible to being enemies again and it all feels a bit anti-climatic, with the last couple of pages especially feeling pointless, and it comes to a close with a really weak joke about procrastination.
It’s a shame as Whedon is normally much better than this, yes the odd joke works but none are strong enough to have made me laugh out loud, and I laugh out loud particularly easily. It’s completely lacking in charm too, and it feels just so bland and with no real reason for existing, the art by José Maria Beroy and Sara Soler is fairly impressive and captures the characters well but Whedon didn’t give the artists anything that amusing to draw which also really frustrates. If you’re an enormous fan of Dr Horrible and can pick this up on the cheap then you might not regret buying it, but unlike the original video I can’t imagine anyone ever being that fond of it or wishing to see a sequel.