Friday, July 25, 2014


Story: Andy Hartnell
Pencils: Nick Bradshaw w/Jonboy Meyers & Billy Dallas Patton
Digital Inks & Colors: Jim Charalampiois | Letters: Comicraft
Assistant Edits: Kristy Quinn | Edits: Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

Well, I'm not sure why the series is called BODY SHOTS. No one suffered a blow to the stomach or chest, and nobody drank liquor off of another person. But, misleading name aside, this is another fun outing from the same creative team that brought us BACK IN BLACK. The story is perhaps a bit overly complex and twisty, but the characterizations are fine, the action is exciting, and the artwork is excellent.

The premise this time is that a terrorist named Arthur Franco has acquired a gizmo called the Master Key, which will allow him to detonate any nuclear device on Earth from anyplace he happens to be. He demonstrates this ability to the world by setting off two such explosions. Franco's deranged end goal is to destroy all the world's nuclear weapons, ultimately making it a safer place (the environmental fallout from a planetful of nukes exploding is never mentioned by any character in the story). Abbey and Sydney, with aid from Agent Zero and support from Deuce and Valerie, must track Franco down before he can do any further damage.

Following a teaser sequence set in Japan, the action follows the girls briefly to Australia, where Sydney is buying a house, and then to Madagascar, Italy, and a nondescript location "somewhere in Africa", with the adventure culminating in the United States. Franco's scheme is revealed as a scam, though it turns out he was unaware. He believes the Master Key works, but in reality it's a non-functioning dummy device, while suicide bombers have detonated the missiles for him at the precise moments he has used the Key, as part of a manipulative plot by a corrupt U.S. General. Like I said -- a bit overly complex.

Adding to the confusion is that Abbey and Sydney spend much of the story pursuing a sexy sniper in Franco's employ, only to have her turn herself in partway through the mission, explaining that she never trusted Franco in the first place. She then works with the girls for the final showdown with General Wallace, and ultimately escapes before she can be taken into custody. Her motivations are cloudy at best, and her entire character arc, such as it is, is positively mystifying. We don't even learn her name, though I assume that's intentional on Hartnell's part.

But even when the story is unnecessarily confusing, it's still a lot of fun. We get a cameo appearance by Johnny in Madagascar, where it seems his romance with Sydney has finally become extremely mutual, but otherwise the story remains Barracuda free until he reappears in Australia for the epilogue as Sydney is moving into her new house. And I have to say, a little less Johnny is not a bad thing. I like the character a lot, but as I've noted before, he is a support character for the Danger Girls, and shouldn't feature prominently in every one of their adventures. That said, if Hartnell (can we stop pretending Campbell is at all involved in these things by now?) were to produce a spin-off one-shot or limited series starring Johnny, I'd gladly read it.

The spotlight on Sydney's personal life is a nice touch, as well. We saw some of Abbey's home life in San Francisco previously in the pages of BACK IN BLACK, and now we find Sydney wanting a place to call home after years of globe-trotting, so she's returned to her native land of Australia to settle down. We learn in the process that she kept Major Maxim's hat as a souvenir of the original DANGER GIRL series -- "Our first time saving the world," according to her.

Deuce also gets more development in BODY SHOTS. His friendship with the President is revisted, and though I still find the connection, established in HAWAIIAN PUNCH, to be questionable, it's at least well depicted by Hartnell. The President has complete faith in Deuce's team to save the day, and the mutual respect shown here helps to sell their relationship even if I don't entirely agree it should exist. When the President is captured by Franco, General Wallace frames Deuce and shows up personally to take him into custody, leading to his ultimate defeat, and Deuce remains calm and calculating as usual through the entire situation.

The last major character to receive some time to shine is the ever mysterious Agent Zero, who spends some time disguised as the President and bloodily kills tons of bad guys throughout the story. The degree of overkill with which Zero takes out his foes is almost comical, but always entertaining. It occurs to me that there's been no further mention of his apparent connection to Abbey since the original series, though. You'd think Hartnell might want to hit on that once in a while to remind readers. Is he her father? Or something else? Maybe, in an unexpected twist, Assassin X is her father and Zero is her uncle? Some clues would be nice.

The artwork by Bradshaw and colors by Charalampiois are once again outstanding. Bradshaw really is a perfect fit with this material, making the girls cartoony but still sexy, and the men strapping and handsome. I question his bringing back Deuce's ponytail, but I don't believe it sticks around in future stories. I also noticed a blatent swipe in one of the Madagascar scenes, where it appears he traced a screenshot of Scar from THE LION KING to represent a lion stalking the President -- but like I always say, if you can't draw a lion, you just can't draw a lion.

Art by Jonboy Meyers
Bradshaw is assisted on pencils for this outing by Jonboy Meyers and Billy Dallas Patton. Meyers has a few pages in the third issue, and then each artist has a couple in the fourth. I'm unfamiliar with Patton, but Meyers is a name I've seen on various things over the past few years, and I think he's a terrific artist. I would love to see him headline a DANGER GIRL series as the sole penciler someday. His work is very energetic, and he seems to meld certain aspects of both J. Scott Campbell and Joe Madureira into a single style.

BODY SHOTS may not be as outright fun as BACK IN BLACK -- it's perhaps a little too large in scope for a four-issue series -- but it's an entertaining read with top-notch artwork and colors, and a decent installment in the DANGER GIRL canon. It also could be considered the last of the "classic" DANGER GIRL material, as the property was laid to rest for a little while following this outing. Next week, when we look at the subsequent DANGER GIRL series, five years will have passed and the franchise will reside with a new publisher: IDW.

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