SOLAR POWERED: A New Image, Not a New Idea

Back in the day, I loved Image Comics.  They were a new kind of cool.  I mean, for a kid in the 1990s, they were exceptional because, until that point, nothing like them had ever existed.  My moniker for writing comics prose is Black Superman; I have said on countless occasions that Superman is, was, and always will be my favorite superhero, because he has been the constant in my superhero fandom, even though new, hot heroes do, every-so-often, come long.  Just as The Princess Bride remains my favorite movie, even though I have seen The Avengers; it takes more than new and hot to replace a classic.  Still, the ‘90s were a golden age for indie comics, and Image was leading the way.

Founded in 1992 as a way to create comics their way and keep ownership of their properties, Image Comics quickly became a powerhouse in the comics’ world.  Now well-known properties such as Spawn, WildC.A.T.s, Witchblade, etc. became household names in comic nerddom. Image presented superheroes in a new way, sometimes even challenging the very idea of what it is to be a hero.  And they succeeded, challenging the big two, and becoming a very real and viable third option.  Also, lest we forget, their success inspired Malibu comics.  One day, very soon, we will discuss the genius that is Prime, but, for today, we extoll the virtues of the most well-known pioneers of indie comics, Image.  Unfortunately, success bred unrest, and Image Comics splintered into smaller, and usually, less successful companies.  What was lost was a kind of magic that Indie Comics companies, including our own Off-Shoot Comics, have been trying to recapture for over a decade.

In recent years, Image Comics has made a huge resurgence, re-emerging with many of their older titles in new adventures in an effort to recapture the lightning that escaped their collective bottle.  And while the nostalgia pop of some of our favorite indie properties from the ‘90s returning might be a way to bring us back into the fold, it’s really new stories that keep us retuning on a monthly basis to spend our money on a few minutes of escapist fun.  That’s what Danger Club is.

Written by Landry Walker and penciled by Eric Jones Danger Club is a lot of fun.   The comic is set in a world where all the superheroes have disappeared and only their sidekicks remain.  The main protagonist is a sidekick called Kid Vigilante.  When we are first introduced to him, he is enacting a plan to take on, literally, the most, physically, powerful person left on the planet.  And take him on, he does, taking a pounding in the process, but setting the sidekicks on a path towards a great battle to save the Earth from an impending doom.  That much, I guess, you could guess.  I mean, aren’t all comics worth reading about either stopping some impending doom (Spawn) or surviving the apocalypse (The Walking Dead)?  And here is where we run into a few weaknesses of the comic.

The backstory is not explained yet, so, to a certain degree, as you read this story and discover new characters, you find that you feel lost- or at least I did- almost as if you missed the lead-in series and now you are catching up.  To be fair, I believe that is what the writer is trying to accomplish, and it does make for a lot of anticipation as you look to each new panel in hopes of some of this world’s historical exposition.

Another weakness is that, in three issues of what appears to be an ensemble comic, the only character being well fleshed out is Kid Vigilante.  There appear to be hundreds of sidekicks out there, both with and without powers, but we only have a feel for Kid Vigilante.  There is a certain lack of balance in the writing as new characters are rushed at us with no warning and no context, and we simply have to accept that their backstories will, eventually be explained.

The most glaring problem to me, however is the one most people who have read these comics mention first- the kids all appear to be blatant rip-offs of other, more prevalent characters from other comics; Kid Vigilante is almost definitely a rip-off of Robin, and his first battle, against Apollo, could have very easily been against- oh, let’s say Superboy, in the first issue, and I wouldn’t have flinched.  More than anything, the familiarity with the characters, even though we truly know nothing of them makes it faeel as if you are watching a bloodier version of the Cartoon Network show, Young Justice.  Personally, I love that show, so I love this book.

The weaknesses aside, this book is well written and beautifully drawn.  The characters’ designs are very derivative of other comic book characters, giving this story a backdrop not unlike DC’s Elseworld’s or Marvel’s What If?  And the story reads a little more realistically than a Marvel or DC comic; after all, do we really believe that with all people Superman and the Hulk punch in the face, with fists that can shatter planets, that there is no blood or broken bones?  Theirs is plenty of blood and gore here, but it belongs to the story.  At least to now, the blood is for augmenting the story, and not just for the sake of Danger Club is a lot of fun.   proclaiming this book and indie property.

If you are a fan of Young Justice, give Danger Club a try. If you just like a good indie read, pick up this comic.  If you like some superhero butt-kicking, pick up this comic.  Just get it; I recommend it, and I think you’ll like it.

 

Black Superman

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