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Wrong Train, Right Time ([personal profile] wrongtrainrighttime) wrote2017-04-15 11:47 am

Danger Club, Vol 1: Death & Vol 2. Rebirth by Landry Q. Walker, Eric Jones, and Rusty Drake

Walker, Landry Q., et al. Danger Club, Vol. 1: Death. Image Comics, 2012.
Walker, Landry Q., et al. Danger Club, Vol. 2: Rebirth. Image Comics, 2015.



Danger Club is a miniseries set in an original superhero universe, where all the heroes went off to face a cosmic threat and, to a one, died. Leaving their sidekicks to pick up the slack, because the thing that killed all the adults is still coming.

That premise makes it sound like it goes a little Lord of the Flies and it does, a bit, at least at the beginning. But the main thrust of the narrative is really more about these kid heroes' struggle to still be, well, heroes, in a world devoid of the lodestones that have guided them. It's about responsibility that too much for their shoulders but that they bear anyone because there really is no one else left to do it.

It's about superheroes -- or rather, superhero comics.

Each issue starts off with a one-page Silver Age-esque teaser. These are brilliantly done, they do an excellent job of mimicking the older style comics in both writing and art (especially the costume designs!). More to the point, each one serves as a quick characterization of the characters and relationships to come. This being a wholly original universe, there are definitely recognizable archetypes at play -- but that doesn't really tell you anything about the characters, really. So these one-pagers serve as a really interesting narrative device, helping quickly establish the characters while also establishing the universe-that-was.

There's more to it than that, though. I think the combination of "comics" and "restarting universes" brings to mind one thing, and that is, of course, reboots. The constant struggle to start over, clean things up, make everything neater and better and more modern and -- you get the idea. The brilliance of Danger Club is that it weaponizes that regurgitating timeline and names it Chronos. Time itself, as the destroyer and rebooter of worlds, desiring that perfect world where everything is devoted to itself.

Mind you, I don't know or care nearly enough about the Big Two to take it further than that. I just think it's neat, this idea that time itself is the destroyer and recreator. And in the end, the cycle is broken, and the world is restored to status quo -- but even then, after this time(line) shattering event, nothing's really changed except the kids, who now have bucketloads of trauma to deal with poorly, as is the superhero's wont.

I think nothing exemplifies this sense of -- we won! but what did we win? -- more than Kid Vigilante. After a flashback where his mentor, Red Vengeance, says to his face that he's an inadequate copy of his much more beloved twin brother, a faulty tool for saving the world, KV manages to pull it all off anyway. A ridiculous, desperate gamble that probably only works due to Comics Logic. But he did it. And what does Red Vengeance have to say to him, while he stands there hopefully bleeding from various facial orifices?

"Acceptable."

They saved the world. They undid all the damage. Nothing's changed.

But on the other hand... Nothing's changed.

As you might guess, Danger Club isn't a happy story. Aside from the violence -- and there is quite a lot of bloody violence in this comic, like, a lot -- there's a strong sense that the world the kids fought so hard for is still so flawed, imperfect, brutal. And that saving it left scars that the kids will have to deal with forever.

I still loved it, though. The one-pagers, like I said, are a really well done narrative device to reinforce the themes while short-cutting characterization. Walker does a really great job sketching out these characters in a very short time (4 issues per volume, that's only 8 total!) while also driving forward a tricky time-travel focused narrative. I think it's a testament to the character work all around that I closed the second volume wishing I could spend more time with these kids.

Jones' art is amazing. I really have to mention the character designs here. Since, as I mentioned, there's multiple universes represented, each one roughly tied to a specific era and aesthetic of comic book history, Jones redesigned the main cast to match each one. And the designs are really well done, a good mimicry, with each character's look altered sufficiently to match the era while still being recognizable across universes. And Jones' art is absolutely a part of the characterization short-cutting. With so little room for events and dialogue to reveal characters, Jones' facial expression and body language do a lot to help sketch in the personalities of all these kids.

And Drake supplements all of that with his colors. The cosmic scenes beyond time, in different realms, all of these are suitably impressive. Lots of great work with effects.

So overall, a very well done read. Two volumes, short and sweet, lots of good character work, an interesting narrative through time and sorta comment on the Nature of Comics. But also an absolute downer. Still, I recommend it.