Friday, July 4, 2014


Story: J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell | Script: Andy Hartnell
Art: Phil Noto | Lettering: John 'JG' Roshell & Comicraft's Wes Abbott
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Big Kahuna: Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

Following Tommy Yune's KAMIKAZE! is a Danger Girl one-shot plotted by series creators J. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell, with script once again by Hartnell. The story begins with a brief teaser set in snow-blanketed Italy, where Abbey, Sydney, and Johnny Barracuda recover a McGuffin from a group of nondescript terrorists. Following the borderline successful completion of their mission, Johnny suggests a well-deserved vacation in Hawaii. The story proper then picks up with our heroes enjoying their downtime in the islands, little aware that they're about to fall into a devious new plot.

It seems Don Ka Nui, a Hawaiian theme park magnate, is running out of money and believes that the only way to get people into his park and get his revenue back up is to destroy the world's other popular parks. To that end he uses several genetically crafted mind-control leis to turn Johnny and a group of U.S. naval submarine officers to his side. The subs depart Hawaii and launch missiles at two theme parks in California and one in Hawaii. But the Danger Girls become aware of the plan and foil it, with some timely aid from Valerie, along for the ride in Hawaii, and Deuce, who is vacationing in Florida.

The story is silly, but Ka Nui works in a "Roger Moore Bond Villain" sort of way. He has a right-hand hula girl named Lae'ula and several trained fighters at his command, and his penchant for chess results in Johnny tied to a giant white bishop, which is kind of a funny image. There is a story angle missed, however, considering that Ka Nui has a half-completed theme park on of the islands, which could have made a great spot for a final showdown, but which is barely acknowledged as existing after its introduction.

Valerie is the one to save the day again, and at this point I'm going from wanting more of a spotlight on her a few issues back to feeling like she serves as the deus ex machina to thwart every scheme. She isn't without help this time, however, as Deuce puts in a call to the U.S. President for codes to help her reprogram the missiles. Which, honestly, reads as totally absurd. We know that Deuce is a decorated ex-MI6 agent, and that the Danger Girls are sort of freelance peacekeeping operatives, but the idea that Deuce has a hotline directly to the Oval Office is a bit much. Simply having him reach to the Secretary of Defense, especially if he was identified as an old acquaintance or something, would've been fine. But calling the president makes the character too "special" for what has seemed in the past to be more of an "in the trenches" type of organization.

Beyond these little issues with the story's conclusion, there is one much larger problem at play in the pages of HAWAIIAN PUNH -- the art of Phil Noto. Now Noto is a very talented artist for certain types of characters and stories -- but the Danger Girls are not such characters. Noto is completely incompatible with the style set by J. Scott Campbell. Art Adams, Joe Chiodo, and Tommy Yune have all taken a crack at Campbell's characters in their own styles by this point, but their styles are cartoony enough to pull it off, to varying degrees of success. Noto's style, while embracing minimal lines, is too realistic to mesh with the previous stories. So, while he draws a decent-looking story here, it is not a decently drawn DANGER GIRL story.

Noto's coloring, however, is quite beautiful. It again does not really work with the styles we've seen before, but I tend to give color a bit more leeway than pencils and inks when it comes to matching or not matching an established style. And Noto's cel-shaded, animation-looking style is wonderful. I can't help wondering what it might have looked like if applied to an artist more in line with Campbell's sensibilities.

So that's the bad. But there is some good to be found in HAWAIIAN PUNCH as well. First off, while the story, as noted above, is not the greatest, there is a very nice underwater SCUBA fight scene based strongly on the climactic battle from the Bond film THUNDERBALL. It fits perfectly into the story and into the larger DANGER GIRL world, influenced as it is by those sorts of movies. We also get a little touch of continuity, as Abbey and Sydney compare Ka Nui's people -- unfavorably -- to the Hammer Empire, even name-checking Major Maxim. Sydney also insists that Johnny is not her boyfriend by way of admitting that they kissed one time, as seen in the first series.

And speaking of Johnny -- I enjoy his development under Campbell and Hartnell as a prototypical "Sterling Archer" character. Archer, the star of the FX television series ARCHER, for those unaware, is a loud-mouthed, irresponsible secret agent who usually starts as many problems as he solves, but who is, at the same time, depicted unwaveringly as an accomplished ladies' man and highly competent fighter. This description fits Johnny to a tee, with the exception that, while we've been told he has a great degree of success with women, we've never really seen it. Mostly women are repulsed by him.

So HAWAIIAN PUNCH is flawed, though mostly due to the artwork. If someone more compatible with Campbell's style had been tapped for art chores, I might have a different opinon. But as it is, it's an easily skippable and forgettable part of the DANGER GIRL canon. The next story is also a one-shot with work by Phil Noto, so we'll see if my opinion continues to hold as the girls travel to Las Vegas next week.

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

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