DC’s Sonic Disruptors has gained a well-deserved level of notoriety for getting shitcanned in the middle of its planned twelve-issue run, but its demise was hardly a unique or unprecedented event. Roughly three years before the parties involved decided to abandon that funnybook wreck by the side of the road, the folks in charge of Marvel’s Epic line pulled the plug on a lesser known but equally ill-conceived limited series project.
And while it took Mike Baron seven baffling issues of Sonic Disruptors to reveal his self-defeating hand, it only took the late (and unevenly great) Steve Gerber a graphic novel and two-out-of-six planned installments to do the same with Void Indigo.
The project was greenlit at a time when the purpose of the Epic imprint was to woo disgruntled creators back into the Marvel camp by offering them the chance to persue (arguably) upmarket, creator-owned vanity projects outside the realm of shared-universe superhero slugfests. While the plan may have appeared sound in theory, it failed to consider a couple of very important factors — the growing glut of direct market material and the potential audience for works that, well, were pretty much old concoctions poured into new bottles marketed for “mature audiences.”
In Void Indigo‘s case, the old concoction was a reworked treatment for DC’s Hawkman, dolled up with ample lashings of ultraviolence and a whole lot of titty shots.
In the Days of Olde when men were bold and women dressed like dancers at a BYOB strip club, a group of jester-hatted wizard kings struggled to maintain their supremacy over the restive barbarian muggles. The power of these potentates depended (much like present day conservatives) on human sacrifice, transforming the anguish of the tormented into raw magical power.
As their own subjects were much to cowed to provide the requisite emotional spark, they turned their sights on a leader of one of the upstart barbarian tribes. Capturing him and his lover during a moment of poist-coital bliss and subjecting the pair to a long, excruciatingly detailed sequence of mutilations involving a Artifact of Power which looked like it was plucked from the World’s Largest Easter Ham.
The wizards underestimated the depths of the barbarian chief’s rage, however, which enabled him to break free and catastrophically disrupt the arcane ritual. The resulting backlash destroyed the old order and cast the souls of the barbarian and his tormentors into the “Void Indigo,” the continuum of souls bound to the process of reincarnation.
While the wizards had the luck to be reborn upon Ye Moderne Earthe, the barbarian’s soul migrated across the gulf of stars to find rebirth in the form of Jhagur, a crimson-skinned alien who bore a striking resemblance to Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein.
Befuddled by vague memories of his previous life, Jahgur crashed his ship in the American southwest. There he reaquainted himself with his former life by watching trailer park folks fuck and using his eyebeams to incinerate a dude’s foot down to the charred bones.
The latter action earned him the gratitude of the hooker said dude had been beating on, so the two rode off to L.A. and set up house together. She got a job waiting tables, while Jhagur (who adopted the first name of…brace for it…”Mick”) holographically disguised himself as the Marlboro Man and became a construction worker.
Fifty millennia of mystical vengeance will out, however, and the discovering of the Sacrifical Clove at a building site rekindled Jhagur’s rage to the point of blowing his wages on an impractically double bladed samurai sword and forcing the hooker-waitress to whip him up some Billy Idol cosplay duds.
Jhagur kills some people. The reincarnated wizard kings kill some people and make vague plans. The confused hooker-waitress visits a psychic, then punches her long-suffering neighbor in the mouth. A teenage girl finds the Sacrificial Clove and turns into a nude, flaming angel who says “ecstacy” thirty times in five panels. A red-haired lady mind-melds with Jhagur and turns into a female of his race who strips off her blouse and demands to be carnally serviced at the end of the second issue…
…which is where Epic’s editor Archie Goodwin (rest his soul) came to his senses and decided to shelve the project.
Interestingly enough, the bulk of the criticisms directed at Void Indigo back in the day were directed at its graphic depictions of violence. While it certainly was a exceedingly violent funnybook, much of the non-titty content seems quite tame in comparison to what makes it into the mainstream superhero comics of the present day.
The biggest problem with Void Indigo is that it doesn’t make a lick of sense. To be fair, the abrupt cancellation played a big part in that, but even the foundational stuff comes from a place that must seemed straightforward in Gerber’s head yet stumbled hopelessly over its own convoluted cosmology when translated to the printed page.
Though it made for an infuriating and bewildering funnybook, I suspect Void Indigo probably would have worked better as a low-budget sci-fi exploitation flick where the expository verbiosity was stripped out in favor of cheesy 1980s art direction and a bunch of dudes getting vengeance-killed to the sounds of canned synthtones. (The titty-shots could have stayed as is.)
As it stands, Void Indigo is a shotgun marriage of revisionist superhero wank and third-hand Heavy Metal-isms which emphasized the limitations of both and the strengths of neither. While I feel a little guilty slamming a project by a guy who did some great work and got hosed by the comics industry, there’s no doubt in my mind that Void Indigo roundly qualifies as Nobody’s Favorite.