Publisher: Heavy Metal
Writers: Eliot Rahal & Daniel Kibblesmith
Illustrator: Kendall Goode
Doorman is a Sci-fi comic with a very simple premise, in the universe every inhabited planet has a door on it that acts like a portal, allowing people to move from one planet to another instantaneously. Each of these portals are managed by a person called a ‘Porter’ a doorman who watches over and control the doors, to makes sure they are used properly. It is a simple idea with limitless potential, as there could be any number of worlds out there to be explored.
Though if you think doorman is a simple, lighted hearted adventure story then you would only be somewhat correct. While there is a lot of action adventure it is certainly not light. Though it does try to witty in several occasions. Doorman is a violent, gore filled series that sees the two protagonists wrapped up in a conspiracy that leaves them fighting for their lives. Henry is the doorman of Earth, and, as is the usual for older protagonists, he was one day away from retiring when an alien came bounding through the door pointing a gun at him. Also coming through the door is Detective Flower, a space police officer who has been following the trail of this assassin. As the begin to delve deeper they find that all clues lead back to Carlisle Moongale, a super space tycoon who has is fingers in all forms of business, from hotels to transport. In the public eye he is well-loved by the people, behind the scenes he is an insane criminal who will do anything to get ahead. When face against this impossible foe, with only the doors to help them the future seems bleak for Henry and Flower.
The story’s pacing in Doorman is surprisingly fast. In the first two issues they cover a lot of ground, moving from plot to plot without much rest. With so much going on it can make it easy to get slightly lost the first time reading it. Thankfully there isn’t much used in the way of jargon here, a few alien words and terminologies but nothing that seems overly important. Most of the important things use simple English words making them easy to remember – a godsend for a fast Sci-fi series. One problem that does come from the pacing though is the lack of world building. There is still a lot going on, we see the police system, celebrity culture in space and a lot of different alien species, and almost all of it ties back into the plot, so there is not any wasted time or filler pages, but at the same time it can make it all a little disorienting going around these alien worlds so fast and touching on life. Perhaps this was a stylistic choice as the human Doorman, Henry, had never been off world, and aliens don’t come to a back water planet like Earth., so his knowledge of the alien world is about as good as outs, he just knows how to use the teleporting doors.
As protagonists go Henry is quite an interesting one. As an older character, he has that gruff not caring attitude to most things, just wanting to do his job and not upset the status quo, quite the opposite of what you would expect of the main character in a space adventure series. They do seem to try to make him seem somewhat deeper that he really needs to be though, as ‘a man with nothing knows what he has left to lose’. He seems to be somewhat deep on the surface but when you actually think about what he says it’s just lazy philosophy. Flower on the other hand is the complete opposite of him. She is somewhat of a ditz for a police detective, that even proclaims herself to be a “kook” she acts as a good foil for Henry. She is cavalier in her attitude, jumping in first before asking questions. There relationship often leads to Henry being the one that saves the day most of the time, despite her being the police detective and him having spent 40 years sitting an a door no one walks through.
The biggest thing that lets them down perhaps is the writing. In terms of plot the writing does a good job, as I said the pacing is nice and tight, nothing feels wasted. The character interactions however leave a little to be desired. A lot of the dialogue tries to add in witty quips and banter amongst the action and the death, so much so that feels like it is trying to hard. The villain is just so gloriously insane its hard to find him a daunting figure and not just laugh at his over the top evilness. He to tries is hand at comedy and it feels stilted and flat, being funnier when he isn’t trying to be. While it does have its comedic moments it would do a lot better if it toned them back a bit. It’s okay to be serious now and again, but the way its going its the few serious scenes that feel out-of-place as they are sandwiched in between dialogue to show haw zany their actions are.
The art Doorman is a bit of a mixed bag. It has amazing character design. There are so many species of aliens that we come across in just the first two issues alone that really highlight this. Almost no two alien looks the same. Though perhaps if a few did, it would help to give the reader an idea of the other major species in this universe, creatively its amazing to see all these designs, but again perhaps reining it in and being a little less creative, could help to make to world feel bigger. A big personal plus for me with this series is the character’s expressions. The artist really does a good job of conveying emotion across, even on aliens (helped by the fact they are all humanoid in shape) it really helps bring these characters to life. The colouring as well is bold and bright it makes everything pop and feel vibrant. There are a few cases of the bodies looking a little off model but nothing so bad as to detract from the appreciation of it. A few scenes do get a bit confusing as to what is going on at first it might take a little while of staring a the page to fully get what is going on, which doesn’t help too much with the fast pace that can also confuse you. All in all the artist did a good job with this series
Doorman is certainly a series with a lot of potential, and a lot of its flaws so far come from the fact it is only two issues in. With more time for the series to grow, so to will its world and its scope of story telling. Its tight, with good action and great art. The only real flow it has is with the dialogue, which is just a but too cheesy and forced. There is a lot of good ideas being used here, and even some of the more cliché aspects don’t seem too recycled because of it. Despite some of the questionable choices in script I would certainly recommend this series. It is a comic that is showing a lot of originality at times and has good action sequences that do contain quite a lot of alien gore. The comedy could do with some work, despite that though, the most important quality that Doorman posses it that it is a lot of fun.