By Al Kratina
March 24, 2007 - 16:23
Steve Gerber created Howard The Duck. Which, aside from being incredibly experimental and bizarre, was a quite a subversive comic in the final portion of its run, and even more so with its Marvel MAX revival. So, I would have expected something with a little more teeth in The Helmet of Fate: Zauriel, which features DC's bona fide Angel of God. After all, giving a character with such religious overtones to Gerber would be like assigning Jello Biafra to write about Captain America, or 50 Cent to write about, well, anything that involves words over three syllables. Still, while there's nothing overtly mocking about this comic, there's a vague tone of condescension in the writing that’s subtle but still present, marking it as tame, but still identifiably Gerber.
Like the rest of the series, ...Zauriel doesn't seem to have much of an impact on either the DC Universe or the saga of Dr. Fate. All it really establishes is that at one point during its journey through space and time, the Helmet of Fate was on a planet where scary-looking goths were trying to attack pretty people, like every third Marilyn Manson video. Zauriel is sent by God to defend the planet's ruling dictatorsip against the fungal attack, and wrest control of the Helmet from the rebels. This interference in mortal affairs, as well as the heavenly defence of a totalitarian government, leads to some snide metaphysical musing on Zauriel's part, which is where Gerber gets to have a little fun. Still, like Steve Niles in Helmet of Fate: Sargon the Sorcerer, it feels as if his hands are tied, and some great comedic and satirical opportunities are missed.
Adding to the light tone is the art of Peter Snejbjerg. Wide-eyed and comic, his characters are broadly amusing, but the more obvious aspects of Snejbjerg’s work threaten some of the subtlety in Gerber’s writing. There's also a fine line between minimalism and over-simplification that is occasionally crossed here. Still, Snejgjberg’s work is effective, and Gerber’s writing is entertaining. And though … Zauriel is not the highlight of Helmet of Fate series, it's enough to spark interest in Gerber's ongoing Dr. Fate title. And, hopefully, some more Howard the Duck.
Rating: 7 on 10