What we have with Danger Club is perhaps the most obvious next stage of superhero comics: specifically, the hijacking of ‘teen titan’ characters and turning them into uber violent, nihilistic, and anarchy-inspired bundles of angst and nastiness. Most of the pages are mind-numbing brutality especially focusing on turning faces into mashed potatoes (you don’t get broken body parts, you get bloody marbled faces over and over, ad nauseum). Unfortunately, despite what the author intended, the gore isn’t counterbalanced by nuanced worldbuiling and so the statements being made fall flat: this hasn’t Lord of the Flies’ trenchant insight or A Modest Proposal’s exuberant outrageousness. It’s just four episodes of mindless violence; which, admittedly, may in fact be the greatest statement of all made by Danger Club about the 2010s.
Story: Kid Vigilante and his group of ‘former sidekicks’ are reeling from the loss of the adult superheroes and villains – and the betrayal from one of their own. Kid Vigilante has the super power of ‘knowing everything’ – and he hatches a plan to take down his new nemesis while also trying to make the world see that a bigger threat is coming. But what is the point of bringing down a villain when the whole world hates you anyway? And what exactly is this big alien threat that Kid Vigilante keeps talking about?
We’re thrown right into the story – abruptly and confusingly. I had to double check that I hadn’t missed a previous volume somewhere. So the first part is pretty much going along for the ride and hoping someone finally reveals some back story for the characters and worldbuilding. Yes, this future is at first presented as utopic and slowly turns dystopic by the end. Yet only the teen protagonists of Kid Vigilante’s little team seems to have noticed or cared. Why? Don’t ask – you won’t get answers in this volume. And while I typically applaud authors who don’t feel the need to overtell a story, I’d still like to see writing intelligent enough to subtly yet effectively lay down a world for us to explore. I just didn’t find that here.
Our main character spends most of the book being assaulted in some way or other. Again, it’s quite a bit of bloody mayhem with the result being a lot of damaged visages; and despite bodies being thrown everywhere willy nilly, we only see a few scratches on the uniforms but geysers of blood oozing out of noses, eye sockets, heads, etc. So, too, do his comrades show vehement assaults on their faces – it ends up being a smorgasbord of brute force for very little in the way of pay off. An yet, the persistent nihilism defeats a much needed ‘Lord of the Flies’ ramping up of the anarchy. The best villains start out good and the best superheroes can go bad. But it’s the journey to the antithetical extremes that is completely missing here. And so we never get a chance to engage with any of the betrayals or victories in Danger Club – the ‘power curve’ of the plot remains remains perversely and permanently on ‘relentless.’
Finally, most problematic for me are the themes. E.g., taking a character named Apollo with sun-like powers and making his kyrptonite the moon felt juvenile, at best. Better writing pairs a night-shadow (e.g., Midnighter) with the sun to counterbalance light and heat. Similarly, I kept waiting for a pay off with the main character, whose only super power was that he knows everything, but nothing ever really came off it other than ‘he has a plan’ and it involves getting everyone beat up – regularly and thoroughly. It just seems that so much has been recycled but without enough changes to make it original. Was Batman’s Robin always an emotionless ‘know it all.’? Because his counterpart sure is here.
So yes, this could eventually be a story that goes somewhere and makes sense later. But the clues dropped thus far don’t intrigue and we are not given many reasons to want to continue – especially since the the plot presages only more violence. Ending on a cliff hanger rather than completing a sub story arc further distances since it might have been a chance to create a reason to stay through more background information. The art is serviceable. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.