Friday, August 1, 2014


Story: Andy Hartnell | Art: Chris Madden
Colors: Jeremy Cox | Letters: Neil Uyetake | Edits: Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

DANGER GIRL took some time off following 2007's BODY SHOTS, eventually returning to the printed page in 2011's DANGER GIRL AND THE ARMY OF DARKNESS, published by Dynamite Entertainment. But as noted previously, that story will not be covered here. Instead we jump ahead one more year to 2012, and the first DANGER GIRL story published by their new home, IDW -- DANGER GIRL: REVOLVER.

I'm not certain why this series is called REVOLVER. No one in the story uses a revolver. To my recollection, the word "revolver" is not uttered so much as a single time. So, as with BODY SHOTS, we have another series whose name seems a complete nonsequiter. But on the plus side, that's pretty much the only thing wrong with the series. REVOLVER is fun and fast-paced, evoking memories of the original DANGER GIRL series in the best possible ways. The Indiana Jones influence is more evident than in years, and the story is also perhaps the most plot-packed series since those original seven issues, as well.

Our adventure begins with a teaser in Venice, Italy, where Abbey is undercover as a veiled bride in order to retrieve an ancient Persian ring from a black market collector named Enzo Moretti. With the help of Johnny and Sydney, Abbey gets the prize and makes her escape, following a chase which begins with our heroine on horseback, proceeds to a speeboat in the Venetian canals, and concluded with a seaplace rescue. It's one of the better teasers in the DANGER GIRL canon to date, with the Venetian speedboat chase strongly evoking INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE.

Later, aboard the Danger Yacht, the girls meet Deuce's old friend, Veronica Fox -- a woman with a strong mistrust of Abbey -- who sets them on their next mission -- to locate the place of origin of a Peruvian corpse, clad in armor which should no longer exist. The quest brings our girls to the home of the Hochi tribe, where we learn that the tribe's most prized artifact, the mystical Hochi Sunburst, has been stolen -- leading to terrible weather and dead crops. Abbey and Sydney head out in search of the Sunburst, working together with Abbey's ex-fiancé, a fellow adventurer named Nathan Wilde, and also with Sydney's bounty hunter sister, a world-class archer named Sonya Savage.

The trail of the Sunburst leads to an underground auction of valuable antiquities, and the group recruits the aid of Donavin Conrad, the eyepatched villain from the original DANGER GIRL's teaser sequence who has an unhealthy crush on Abbey, to infiltrate the auction. The story runs full circle as it turns out Enzo Moretti is after the Sunburst, and willing to pay handsomely for it. But our heroines recover the artifact from Moretti and make their escape in a car chase through London. The story's finale features Abbey parting ways with Nathan, followed by Sonya joining the team and then the girls jumping into action to provide a comeuppance to the mercenaries who stole the Sunburst earlier in the series.

When reintroducing a franchise after a few years of dormancy, it's a good idea to hit some of the classic beats to remind your audience of what they liked about the property in the first place, and Hartnell, ably assisted by artist Madden, does an excellent job it in REVOLVER. The globe-trotting adventure is of course back in full force, but we also see a return to a core cast of three Danger Girl field agents, plus a few homages to the original series by Madden are present as well, in the form of a shot-by-shot role reversal between Abbey and Donavin, echoing their encounter in Campbell's original work, as well as a perfectly recreated image of Abbey in a sparkling evening gown as she and Donavin arrive at the auction.

Left: J. Scott Campbell, 1998. Right: Chris Madden, 2011.

But in addition to the nostalgic touches, this story moves the DANGER GIRL contiunity very much forward by introducing new characters and situations for our heroines. The most obvious such inclusion is the appearance of Sydney's heretofore unknown sister, Sonya. As noted above she is an excellent archer and, up until the moment she joins the team, she's a bounty hunter. Beyond these facts we know little about Sonya, but hopefully she'll be fleshed out a bit more in upcoming series.

In the scene set aboard the Danger Yacht, we receive a nice piece of information, almost as an aside by Deuce -- Valerie's last name. To my recollection, it had never come up prior to REVOLVER, but when Deuce introduces her offhandedly to Veronica as "Valerie Evans", it almost slipped past me due to the lack of fanfare. Other than receiving a surname, though, Valerie plays a minimal role in the story -- which is fine, given how often she served as the deus ex machina in previous installments, as documented in my previous reviews. Johnny also steps out of the spotlight following the teaser sequence, and as I've noted previously I'm okay with that since he must have his own CIA missions to handle elsewhere in the world.

We also meet Abbey's former love, Nathan, who comes with the possibility of a romance rekindled, though by story's end the couple agrees to go their separate ways -- "for now." Another new face comes in the form of Spencer Cross, one-time henchman of Donavin Conrad who now works as a mercenary and is employed here by a antique collector named Malcolm. Cross shows up in a flashback set "five years ago" as well as in the present day as an antagonist of Abbey's. Giving the protagonists acquaintances outside their lives as Danger Girls is appreciated as long as it doesn't become the standard formula for every story, and thus far Hartnell has used the trick sparingly -- so getting a large bit of insight into Abbey's past in this story is a welcome development.

There seems to be some writer/artist discontinuity with regards to Cross, however, as when he shows up in the five-years-past flashback, he is missing the tips of two fingers, which appear to be freshly bandaged. When he shows up again in the present, the same fingers are still bandaged, and he's wearing the exact same clothes as he had on in the flashback. It reads like Hartnell didn't communicate to Madden that the first scene was intended as a flashback. Fortunately this gaffe doesn't detract from enjoying the story -- but it does make things slightly confusing for a moment or two.

Other than the above, however, Chris Madden accomplishes himself extremely well on REVOLVER. His style has a very DANGER GIRL: THE ANIMATED SERIES look to it, and he appears strongly influenced -- at least as regards the shapes of the girls' faces -- by the great Bruce Timm. Madden's storytelling is fluid, his girls are cute and shapely, and his style is perfectly suited to this sort of non-stop adventure yarn. I would be more than happy to see him revisit DANGER GIRL any time his schedule allows. Or maybe on that JOHNNY BARRACUDA mini-series I suggested previously!

Overall, REVOLVER is a very fun read, and a worthy return for the DANGER GIRL characters. Since REVOLVER's publication in 2011, Hartnell has kept the characters in regular circulation with four more mini-series in the next three years, including the G.I. JOE crossover. If these subsequent series are anywhere near as fun as REVOLVER, then DANGER GIRL is back in excellent form.

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