Cheesecake and bullwhips and spies, oh my! (Also: Is that Sean Connery?)
Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Danger Girl #1 awaits!
DANGER GIRL #1
Writer: J. Scott Campbell (plot); Andy Hartnell (script)
Penciler: J. Scott Campbell
Inker: Alex Garner
Letterer: Comicraft’s David Lanphear
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.95
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00
Previously in Danger Girl: At the tender age of 20, J. Scott Campbell first pitched his work to Image Comics, netting him some work here and there, mostly on Jim Lee’s Homage line of comics. He then went on to co-create Gen 13, a book which rocketed him to stardom. By 1998, Campbell, Joe Madureira and Humberto Ramos, three artists who shared elements both stylistic and attitudinal, formed their own imprint at Image, Cliffhanger, with Joe Mad fielding seven issues of Battle Chasers in the next fifteen years, Ramos making a more regular schedule with his book, Crimson, and Campbell creating…
…well, this book. As with most comics of the 90s, this first issue isn’t actually the first appearance, as it continues the story from the #0 issue, wherein Abbey Chase pursues the low-rent James Bond villain Donavin Conrad, who is fleeing in a speedboat with a mystical artifact of Mayan origin. Forced off the road by Conrad’s goons, Abbey has to get creative…
Crashing her jeep into the ocean (and also into Donavin’s fleeing speedboat), Abbey shows her creativity once again, grabbing a speargun from the slowly sinking wreckage…
Pulling herself hand-over-hand, the intrepid Ms. Chase drags herself onto the boat, all the while monitored by a helicopter hovering nearby. When she finally makes it to the boat, Abbey shows off another skill: Her mean right cross!
Unfortunately, their flight attracts the attention of the pirates who make their home around the island, and a few well-placed bullets leave the boat roaring out of control toward a waterfall (because geography is for suckers), and certain doom for them both!
Except for that whole bit about the monitoring helicopter…
Donavin plunges over the falls to almost certain doom, and the massive explosive that ensues transitions us into the story proper, like any good Bond film would. But, the question remains, who is this strange woman who saved Abbey, and who does she work for?
Sheems funny you should ashk, junior…
I have to admit, this scene (which annoyed me back in 1998) is a cute one, especially prefaced as it is by a shouting match over who gets to decide what’s on TV first. (The swimsuit reference is nice, too.) Deuce, whose name is one of the things you really shouldn’t say with a faux-Connery accent, explains how Codename: Danger Girl got started…
I still maintain that this panel contains the biggest mistake in the entire history of Danger Girl as a concept: The overt reference to James Bond that implies that Bond is a known pop-culture quantity to Abbey Chase. (The other option is that he is a real person who is famous enough to be known, which seems like a bad idea for a spy.) Either way, Deuce used to be an operative until the end of the Cold War mothballed his intelligence agency, but the rise of a new threat (a group called The Hammer Empire who are totally NOT Cobra from ‘G.I. Joe’) spurred him to assemble a team of operatives. Who are they?
Well, one is Indiana Jones in a catsuit with an Aussie accent, one is a femme fatale Bond Girl villain type, ala Tatiana Romanova, and (because it’s the digital age, donchaknow), the third is a computer hacker extraordinaire…
For all the complaints that I have about Campbell’s art, these dossier pages are wonderfully executed use of space to convey tons of information about the members of the D.G. team, an excellent bit of storytelling, even with that strange random Kevin Sorbo appearance. Abbey also gets a dossier page, explaining her skills and abilities, but unfortunately making it explicit how much of her character is based on Lara Croft. Later that evening, Natalia, Sydney and Val loudly discuss their erstwhile new teammate, wondering if she has what it takes, and doing so just loudly enough for her to hear. (Jerk move, by the way.) Fortunately for Ms. Chase, she has the faith of
James Bond Zardoz Allan Quatermain Deuce.
Abbey agrees to give it a try, and we cut forward to her first mission as a Danger Girl, an infiltration op to find more stolen artifacts, these being fences by a very Ernst Toht-looking middleman known as The Peach. He is notable for being super-gross and…
…thaaaat’s pretty much it?
Abbey barely manages to hold in her rage at the unauthorized rump-smacking, but things quickly turn sour as The Peach eats their listening device (because he’s gross, see, he didn’t even notice what he was eating) leading The Peach to double-cross his contact, and flee with both the artifacts and the money.
But Danger Girl has him covered!
The angry fruit-vendor is actually quite amusing to me, a bit that I’ve never noticed in previous readings of this book. As Sydney and Abbey engage the fleeing villains in car-to-truck combat, a sequence largely lifted from ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’, while Abbey is forced to fight a stereotypical Frenchman in a striped shirt, murdering him with her ejector seat in her pursuit of The Peach. Of course, pursuit can have its downside, as well…
Let’s see James Bond pull off an extended car-chase in a little frilly waitress/trollop outfit, Mister Broccoli! I’m going to be honest with you, here: I’ve long held a really negative opinion of Danger Girl as a franchise and as a comic book experience based on early impressions at a time when I was unhappy with the bad girl trend in comics, and thus have judged it unfairly. Danger Girl #1 has waaay too much cheesecake, utterly unrealistic body images, and lots of peekaboo shots of Campbell’s trademark massive gazongas, but it also has some nice character-building, skilled layouts in the art and some fun in-jokes to be had, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. It wears it’s influences a little too obviously for my taste, but also delivers some solid entertainment for your $2.95. (And frankly, if it’s a question of Campbell, Ramos or Madureira, I’ll go Campbell every time, because he draws some of the cutest faces in the business.)