Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: Danger Club #7

Danger Club #7 came out this week and floored me. I have sung the praises of this book before but with each issue, the scope of this book grows and my appreciation continues.

Writer Landry Walker and Eric Jones have been telling a Crisis-style story in this book, of universal threats, of heroes banding together, of timelines being rewritten. And they have been letting us peek into the past each issue, showing us some snippet of lost timelines. We have seen the Danger Club working outside the expanses of reality as they plan their strategy. And we have seen the world disappear and reappear numerous times.

But it finally hit me this issue. This isn't just a compelling super-hero story. This is a look at the history of comics.

Walker and Jones have been giving us the opening pages which add to the current story. But they also have clearly been representative of some age in comics. Most have had a Silver Age vibe. But The American Spirit one from Danger Club #5 feels like the Golden Age. Last issue's opening page was clearly a Kirby/New Gods riff, evocative of early Bronze Age. And throughout this story we have had glimpses of these characters and how they have evolved over 'time' or timelines.

And then it really hit me. Danger Club .... D.C. Maybe Walker and Jones are giving us a view of the History of the D.C. Universe, either this one, or the other DCU.

Last issue we saw the titan Chronos revealed as the universe killing entity corrupting the American Spirit. We also saw, for the second issue in a row, a member of the Danger Club yelling 'Apocatostasis', some incantation which Kid Vigilante states will save everything.

But did it work?

Because now rather than looking into the past, the opening page shows what the Danger Club has become after yet another universal rewrite. We have been brought into the 90's. Does anything say 1990's like this Liefeld-esque group? From Jack Fearless' half-robot face and huge gun arm, to the endless pouches on Kid Vigilante, to the miniscule waists and near nudity of Ladybug, to the grit teeth on all the characters ... this screams of the early days of Image, a time when heroes began careening towards a darker path.

The Earth has once more been rebuilt. But it hardly looks like Earth. This is more like some alien landscape filled with the spirits/souls of those the American Spirit has once again recreated.

The Danger Club are there, in the form of those 90s Image costumes. The Magician is providing us with the narration and even he recognizes that in these forms, the Club are a 'sick parody' of what they were. They have become 'monsters, demons, servants of a dark force.'

And that sums up much of what I feel about comic heroes and characters now, what they started to become in the 90's. They are almost unrecognizable at times. As I read Forever Evil, as I see heroes deconstructed and made into killers, as one 'event' comic after another comes out and tries to top the last with more and more gruesome acts, I wonder where the inspirational heroes have gone.
Way back in issue #5, we saw The Magician inoculate himself with Apollo's blood and enter a sort of hypertime, looking into globes of energy revealing different time lines.

Here we see just what that means. We see him holding three different versions of the Danger Club. The top looks like a Golden Age version, based solely on the look of Robot 9. The bottom looks like the team we are used to seeing. And there is that gritty grim 90s team in the center.

Finally after all the universal reboots by the American Spirit, the current world is the perfect world for Chronos, a place where everyone worships him, a place where he can consume everything.

Since I know think this series is some commentary on comics, I keep wondering if this scene means something more. Is Walker trying to say that comics are eating themselves alive by becoming more and more vicious? Becoming a purely hellish environment?

The American Spirit finally become possessed by or morphs into or becomes consumed by Chronos.

What a great design! Nothing but a giant mouth, a gaping maw just consuming  everything.

Frightening! But just the perfect image to convey this universe-eating dark god.

But the Magician ... that is the one we have been reading in the beginning of this book, the one who was in hypertime ... takes over the Image-esque Magician's body. The threads of each incarnation are somehow linked to each rewrite. And so this version overwhelms the 90's version and gains control.

The Magician then once again shouts 'apocatastasis', exploding in energy.

I have said that my thinking is that the spell is some mix of apocalypse, catastrophe, and stasis. So what are these adjunct spells or synonyms.

Ekpyrosis? Some type of rebirth by fire?
Palingenesis? Some creation after destruction?

As we saw at the end of Danger Club #5, and #6, Danger Club #7  the universe winking out of existence and being recreated. So what is this new Earth like?

Will it be recreated as the Earth we saw in the first issues of the book, as planned for by Kid Vigilante and The Magician? Or is this a completely different timeline now? And if we have seen the Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, and Modern Age, what age is this book set in? The current age? Some other time?

This book has been an incredible. It could be read as a superhero story unto itself, a book about heroes fighting cosmic villains. But it wasn't until 2 issues ago that I first glimpsed what was happening here, how those initial flashback pages were prior timelines, simpler times. And now I am thinking this is a comic about comics, about how characters can be mutated and corrupted over time.

I love that the Magician talks about how the core of the characters remain intact despite the rewrites and perversions. I have said it before about Supergirl ... you can try to write a warped version of her but the true version always reasserts itself.

So what will this new world be?
How will this all end?

What type of super-hero book is Danger Club? All the types?

I am still trying to devour all of this. But I know I love it.

Overall grade: A

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