Friday, June 20, 2014

DANGER GIRL SPECIAL

The DANGER GIRL SPECIAL was released during the run of the original series, presumably as a way to keep up reader interest during the long delays between the later issues. Functioning essentially as an "annual", the issue features two short stories spotlighting the Danger Girls.

"DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR"
Story: Andy Hartnell, J. Scott Campbell & Arthur Adams
Drawings: Arthur Adams | Digital Inks: Digital Chameleon
Colors: Justin Ponsor & Matt Milla w/Chris Garcia | Lettering: Comicraft's Rich'n'Wes
Assistant Editor: John Layman | Editor: Scott Dunbier

The first tale is illustrated by the talented Art Adams, and stars Valerie, daydreaming about life as a full-fledged Danger Girl while relegated by Deuce to cataloguing the group's recent acquisitions while Abbey and Sydney are away on a mission. Valerie fantasizes about a scenario where she plays the role of the capable and confident Sydney while Sydney herself functions as the bumbling sidekick on a mission to track down a Bigfoot-type of creature in the jungle. Then, after a very brief imagined scenario in which she is the Deuce-like leader of the "Danger Boys", Valerie moves on to her second longer daydream, casting herself as Abbey and rescuing Johnny Barracuda from a mad scientist in an exo-skeleton. The story ultimately ends with Sydney and Abbey returning from their mission and Abbey finding Valerie asleep, clutching Sydney's whip as she dreams of her Danger Girl adventures.

It's a fun little character piece, shedding a little light on the junior Danger Girl, who was little more than a plot device with a crush on Leonardo DiCaprio in the mini-series. At least we have some idea of Valerie's aspirations now. She's not content to sit aboard the Danger Yacht, providing I.T. support to the girls. She wants to be as brash as Sydney and as competent (and buxom) as Abbey. Having read few of the subsequent mini-series and one-shots, I'm curious to find out if Valerie ever receives another spotlight. Centering an entire issue or series around her, to let her rise to some challenge the other girls are incapable of handling, would not be a bad idea and would be something I'd enjoy reading.

Unfortunately, the artwork in "Delusions" is not the greatest. I like the Art Adams of the eighties and I love the Art Adams of today -- but the Adams of the nineties was in some sort of transitional period that doesn't really do much for me. His trademark energy, cartooniness, and fantastic attention to detail are there, but everything seems over-rendered. Adams's style works best when it's cleanly finished and unemcumbered by too much embellishment. Here, it feels like he's trying to capture the Jim Lee style of crosshatches everywhere, but what works for Lee just doesn't work for Adams.

Adams does, however, turn in some excellent likenesses of J. Scott Campbell's character designs -- in particular Johnny and Deuce (who is himself a cartoonishly exaggerated Sean Connery, of course).

"MOD BODS"
Screenplay by J. Scott Campbell, Andy Hartnell & Joe Chiodo
Storyboards by J. Scott Campbell | Directed by Joe Chiodo
Close Captons by Comicraft's Rich'n'Wes

The issue's second story is an out-of-continuity romp featuring the three Danger Girls (including Natalia) as the stars of a sitcom called THE MOD BODS. The girls are summond by police commissioner Jordan to fight the Peach, a minor Hammer-affiliated antagonist from the first series, recast here a a Penguin-like villain complete with a sidekick called the Pit, also a repurposed villain from the original series -- in this case the diminutive Hammer agent, Kid Dynamo.

The story goes all-in with the sitcom premise, including a "laugh track" at the bottoms of panels featuring jokes, and casting the girls with very broad personalities. Especially entertaining is seeing Abbey as her own polar opposite -- a brainless bimbo obsessed with shopping. Unfortunately most of the jokes aren't very funny and the story itself, while a fun idea, just feels mostly like a waste of space. I would have much rather read something set in-continuity.

The saving grace in "Mod Bods" is the work of pin-up artist Joe Chiodo, whose painted finishes over Campbell's layouts keeps the girls looking good even throughout the flimsy story.

Lastly, while I'm on the somewhat "catch-all" subject of the SPECIAL, this seems a good occasion to note that around this time, a DANGER GIRL video game was released for the original PlayStation. I have never played the game, never even seen a screenshot that I can recall. I'm not even certain whether it is considered part of the official DANGER GIRL continuity. But from what I've gathered, it was about what one would expect from a licensed game rushed into production to catch some of a new property's fleeting popularity: not that great.

The game is notable, however, for introducing a "lost" Danger Girl named JC, who the internet informs me is an engineer hailing from Canada. To my knowledge, JC has never appeared in any of the comics, which would lead one to assume the game is not considered canon. I wouldn't mind seeing JC pop up in a comic though, even as a one-shot guest star, since she has a nifty visual design, reminding one of Rosie the Riveter by way of J. Scott Campbell. But perhaps the "gadgeteer" aspect of her character was deemed redundant next to Valerie's technical savvy.

Sydney, Abbey, and the mysterious JC
At any rate, I'll keep my eyes open for even a cameo appearance by the lost team member as we go forward, though I don't expect to see one.

Available as part of the DANGER GIRL: DESTINATION DANGER collected edition from Amazon.com.

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