Sometimes, you pull random comics out of longboxes for a re-read and come across something that's fun. Slightly flawed, but fun.
This time, I'm looking at "Batman/Danger Girl," a one shot through DC/WildStorm published in 2004 with a J. Scott Campbell cover. Interior art is handled by Leinil Francis Yu. Gerry Alanguilan once again supplies Yu's inks, and WildStorm mainstay Alex Sinclair colors it up.
And it is, yes, a lot of fun.
As Campbell's career has moved more into the fine arts and alternative covers, it's interesting to look back on "Danger Girl." It feels like a property that, though successful in its own right, should have been bigger and longer-lasting.
I think a little more IP management could have gone a long way. The occasional mini-series by a rotating cast of artistic characters never proved enough to generate any momentum or swell of interest. At this point, it would take a movie opening to revive interest in the series.
Either that, or Campbell returning to draw a mini, but that's not going to happen anytime soon...
A Story About the Characters
Danger Girl co-creator Andy Hartnell writes this crossover, placing the Danger Girls on a yacht in Gotham City. They're chasing after an old foe they thought long dead. And, since this is a crossover, Batman has to bring the Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime always shows up for a good inter-company crossover, doesn't he?
The best part of the book might just be the opening sequence, where Batman crashes a fancy dress party to stop some clowns from beating people up. This Batman, though, models himself after the 1966 television Batman. Physically, he's the modern Batman of the early 2000s, but he's smiling and cracking jokes the whole time. It's a combination of awkward and completely random. It's a little weird at first, but then you get used to it and it's hilarious.
Obviously, that's not Bruce Wayne in that costume, but enjoy it while it lasts. It's so discordant with what you'd normally expect in a Batman comic these days that it made me laugh out loud at his pun-filled smugness. The entire comic is worth it for those pages.
The book then had a double-page spread title page, which I really like. If only as a design element, those kinds of openings are pretty cool. Plus, they give the artist to draw, effectively, a second cover. It's a nice montage that sets up expectations for the story and looks cool, all at the same time. Lienil Yu uses it effectively.
What follows from there is all in character. This book has a plot, but it's generic and forgettable. It's the Joker, so you have certain expectations, and you know that this will end well since it's a crossover event. Tough to fight against those expectations. Hartnell doesn't. By focusing on character moments, he writes a winning script for the situation.
The Danger Girls are in their bikinis getting ready for their next adventure, which is finding one of their arch villains in Gotham City.
Meanwhile, The Joker has a mind control gun that will only work if he gets the password from -- the Danger Girls' foe. So the two have an uneasy alliance. (Joker cuts off the guy's hand, but promises to give it back to him in time for reattachment if he gives him the passcode in time. So, yes, "uneasy." Also, "medically dubious.")
The Danger Girls go shopping, run into and flirt with Bruce Wayne, and then everyone goes to a swanky party, which is where the story begins.
There are fight scenes and misunderstandings and the inevitable team-up. The girls don't know that Bruce Wayne is Batman, so Hartnell plays with that in cute ways.
I can't get enough of the panels from that opening sequence. Here's another one:
Leinil Francis Yu's art is pretty, at first glance, but when you read the book you'll see several storytelling shortcomings.
For starters, there's not too many backgrounds in this book. Whole pages go by with the only background being a lighting element that the colorist, Alex Sinclair, probably added in.
Some of the storytelling is hard to follow from panel to panel. You will rely on the dialogue to follow the story, sad to say. Even then, there are some confusing sequences where characters jump around in space between panels and you're not sure who's doing what anymore.
This is not a great example of a comic book to give to someone to prove the artform has merit. It is a fun book for fans of the two properties at play here. And, honestly, that's good enough.
Can You Find It?
I don't think this one has ever been reprinted. I'm sure IDW becoming the publishing home for other "Danger Girl" mini-series didn't help that.
The double-sized issue ran $4.95 when DC published it under their WildStorm imprint in 2004. There's no indicia anywhere in this book, though, so I'm going by the date in Campbell's signature on the cover.
Campbell's original series is available digitally, as are at least eight of the follow-up mini-series that Andy Hartnell has written for various other artists, including Dan Panosian and Nick Bradshaw. This book is not.
You'll have to keep an eye out at a convention or on eBay. Don't go out of your way for it, but if you ever come across it, it might be a few minutes of fun for you.