Danger Club #6 came out last Wednesday, almost a year and a half after the prior issue had been released. This book, by Landry Walker and Eric Jones ... the creative team who brought us Supergirl:Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade, has been a treat for me. So much of a treat that I covered it earlier on the site here.
There is nothing I like more than an intricate book, a complex book, one that I have to think about long after reading. And Danger Club is just that sort of challenge. We are 6 issues in and I don't know if I could easily categorize this book. I don't think I could tell someone what it is about in a couple of sentences. It seems as if Walker and Jones want to explore all sorts of super-hero genres. Is it a post-apocalyptic Hunger Games? Is it a younger generation of hero vs a now-evil older generation of hero? Is it a time travel story, with the villain writing and rewriting history to his evil ends? Is it a Crisis event? All of these?
This issue takes us to yet another genre, a cosmic event with Kirby-esque overtones. But it seems to go deeper than that as the mystery of Apocatastasis continues to swirl in the background. How is this going to end? I wonder if we are facing a sort of Philip K. Dick 'what is reality' ending ...
As always, the issue starts with a Silver Age style opening. Here, the Greek Gods, apparently aliens from another world, must flee some threat by traveling into the future. They certainly look like Kirby style characters. And using something called the Omphalos Stone? That sounds like a New Gods/Eternals magic item.
Now I only know the omphalos root from medical terms about the umbilicus ... omphalocele, omphalitis. But a universal belly button? A stone to get to the origins of life maybe? Fascinating.
My thinking now is that these pages actually have happened, in some other time, not rewritten by the American Spirit hero-turned-villain. There are kernels of truth in all these. But what are they running from in the past? These time ripples.
The main character is Kid Vigilante, a Robin-archetype who was killed last issue, shot in the head. In this issue, he ends up in Tartarus, making his way to Olympus to fight his old foe Apollo one last time but also to talk to these elder gods.
During this trek, we see flashbacks of Vigilante and his mentor Red Vengeance. In prior issues, we saw Kid Victory, brain damaged and in a medical tube. But it turns out that Red Vengeance is truly a Batman analogue having figured out the crisis facing this universe.
Victory was the key to some strategy. But he is damaged and Vigilante isn't felt to be strong enough. I have felt all along that the Batman/Robin relationship could border on abusive. Here we see just how devastated Vigilante is, how ashamed he is that his mentor doesn't feel he is up to snuff.
It is insane to think that Vigilante is treated this way given how incredible his prowess has been throughout the series.
Vengeance has deduced that the universe is unstable. The Weisinger Theorem (a nice tip of the hat to DC Silver Age editor Mort Weisinger) states there should be multiple universes. But instead there is only one universe with Earth in incredible flux. The world has been rewritten over and over and it is weakened.
We knew the American Spirit was manipulating things. But how drastic and dramatic have the changes been? Well, looking at the early pages, those Silver Age homages ... pretty drastically.
In another nice nod, the world has been rewritten at least 51 times ...
one more and the universe will end. (I suppose that is a jab at the New
Here is the crux of the matter. The older heroes will die fighting the menace. And four months later the universe will end.
But there is so much to like. Vengeance is so matter of fact about his death. But it is devastating to Vigilante, despite the horrible treatment earlier. This is so obviously a dysfunctional relationship just from the snippets we have seen.
Jones art is really stunning here. I love this page, showing us Tartarus, the sigils and statues of the pantheon high above the ridges. These gods can sense something in Vigilante, something they need to see.
But this is beautiful.
At last we learn Vengeance's plan.
He had cloned his son's brains to be receptive to the temporal energy of all these rewrites, to see everything.
Vigilante's mind might not be able to deal with all the info.
And we see it happen ... all of reality ... all of realities ... downloaded into Vigilante's brain. Painfully.
More on this later.
And then we see just what Vigilante saw. The destruction of the universe, ultimate entropy. But it's Chronos!
Is this just how the Gods view destruction? Or is this an actual threat? Are we moving away from Crisis on Infinite Earths and moving towards Ragnarok? Are we leaving science fiction and moving to mythology/fantasy?
And you can't tell me that this monster isn't influenced by Kirby.
So is this yet another genre we are exploring in this book?
The universe is ending. And Vigilante needs the powers of the gods to save everyone. Once again he screams Apocatastasis ... just as everything goes white.
Apocatastasis. Apocalypse. Catastrophe. Statis. Holding back armageddon?
But what is going on with Vigilante here. I suppose, being dead and all, he could be changed. But glowing eyes? And now we know he has ultimate knowledge.
What is he trying to do hear? Recreate the multiverse? Bring back the old histories? Recreate it in his image?
Remember, someone else said they had seen all the worlds and all the times too. The American Spirit! Is Vigilante actually Spirit, cast back in time? Or is Spirit some Vigilante from another timeline, gone mad with power?
Or even crazier, since Vigilante's mind has been damaged by the time-transfer, is there a chance none of these things are happening. That this is the deranged nightmares of a shattered mind. Could this be some sort of Philip K. Dick 'what is reality, if anything' sort of ending?
I don't know. My mind has gone around in circles trying to figure out where this is going and where it will end. And that is the highest compliment I can give a book!