Friday, August 15, 2014


Written by Andy Hartnell | Art by Harvey Tolibao
Colored by
Romulo Fajardo | Cover Art by Dan Panosian
Lettered by Neil Uyetake | Edited by Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

Well, the title isn't misleading. THE CHASE is basically one big, four issue-long chase scene. Which doesn't sound like a great idea on paper, but is executed surprisingly well by Andy Hartnell and Harvey Tolibao. Tolibao's artwork did not impress me in the Sydney segments of TRINITY, but here he's much more palatable. I'm not sure how or why; the work is basically the same. Maybe it's simply because I'm not looking at his work alongside two far more appropriate artists this time. But whatever the reason, Tolibao does a very good job here. His Sydney still looks off due to the lack of blacks in her hair, and his Deuce looks like some bizarre manga character, but otherwise everyone else is on-model, the girls are quite sexy, and the action -- remember, this is an extended four-issue action sequence -- is beautifully choreographed and easy to follow.

The story takes place pretty much entirely in Shanghai, as the Danger Girls are in town to acquire a mysterious briefcase under orders from Deuce. But a one-eyed "Dragon Lady" assassin named Anastasia Kilbourne (a.k.a. "Asia", brilliantly designed by Tolibao, by the way) is after the case as well, and she has an army of heavily armed mercenaries with her. Asia gets to the case first, but Abbey manages to procure it. Following an issue-long fire truck chase through Shanghai, Abbey escapes onto a train. But Asia and her men pursue via helicopter, leading to a final showdown on the outskirts of Hong Kong.

The thing is, there's more to the case than meets the eye. Initially it creates an anti-gravity effect and then a rainstorm in Shanghai when it gets shot a couple times. Later, it turns Abbey's skin transparent. When Asia tries to kill Abbey for it, it disintegrates her. Finally, by the time it reaches Hong Kong with Abbey, it's on the verge of essentially destroying the world. Deuce tells Abbey that only pressure will contain it, so Abbey dives into the sea with it, letting it sink -- along with herself as well via the handcuffs connecting her to it -- into the depths.

Then suddenly time is reset. The girls are back in Shanghai, ready to begin their mission. Asia is alive again, and watches as Abbey appears from nowhere with the case in hand. She and the girls deliver their prize to Deuce, none of them remembering everything that just happened.

It is, to borrow a phrase, a decidedly different Danger Girl adventure. And it's just the thing the franchise needs. I've enjoyed most of the DANGER GIRL outings I've read thus far, but I'll be the first to admit that they get kind of formulaic after a while. This story changes things up. First off, it's the rare Danger Girl story set mostly in a single location. It also breaks from the formula of beginning with a Bond-style teaser sequence before moving into the main action. And the idea of one long chase scene comprising the entire story is, as noted above, a well executed concept.

But even when he changes things up, Hartnell is wise enough not to go too far. This story is heavily rooted in the DANGER GIRL mythology of the past. Asia Kilbourne trained with Natalia Kassle and wants revenge on Abbey for killing her friend. Abbey relives Natalia's last moments from the original series, allowing Tolibao to draw some of Campbell's panels in his own style. We also get a return appearance from Veronica Fox, the antagonistic government liaison introduced in REVOLVER. And, at the story's conclusion, Asia is seen reporting to a mysterious old man aboard a private jet. This is certainly the Gentleman, the former Hammer agent who was last seen keeping Natalia's body on ice in 2006's BACK IN BLACK.

Besides bits and pieces of Tolibao's artwork, there's really only one thing that didn't click with me in THE CHASE -- the covers by Dan Panosian. Is he considered a "get" these days? I ask this honestly, because I believe his covers were marketed as selling points for the series. I really only know Panosian as an inker and occasional penciler at Marvel in the nineties. Did he become a superstar when I wasn't looking? I'm not saying the covers are bad, mind you -- but I would rather have seen some from Tolibao (and in their absence I've included a couple of his gorgeous splash pages down below). Instead we get main covers by Panosian, variants by someone named Loston Wallace, and semi-skeevy photo variants on top of all that.

But the covers are not indicative of THE CHASE's quality, which is excellent. This is probably the best DANGER GIRL series since the franchise was revived at IDW. I look forward to the next series, MAYDAY, which looks to further the Natalia storyline and features the return of the great John Royle on artwork, to boot. That trade is due out later this year, and I'll review it here as soon as I have it, schedule permitting.

Art by Harvey Tolibao.
That's the breathtakingly designed Asia Kilbourne on the right.

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