Danger Street #1
“Chapter One: Atlas the Great”: Joining the Justice League is a goal for any superhero, but what happens when a quest for membership takes a sinister turn? Join Starman, Metamorpho, and Warlord as they look to prove themselves worthy by summoning and defeating Darkseid in battle. Soon they’ll learn that calling upon a New God never ends well, and their world is headed for a crisis as a result!
Danger Street tells the story of the long-forgotten characters that were featured in the 1975-1976 anthology series DC’s 1st Issue Special. The goal of this series was to publish new stories about existing, but underutilized characters, as well as showcase new characters and ideas. If you have never heard of this series, you are definitely not alone. Most of these characters and concepts were forgotten in time. Others momentarily had their time in the spotlight, only to be thrust into obscurity over the following decades. Thankfully, everyone’s favorite writer of obscure, off-the-wall characters, Tom King, has blown the dust off of their stories, reintroducing readers to the likes of Lady Cop and The Dingbats of Danger Street.
Telling a story with over a dozen obscure yet crucial teams and characters can be a daunting task; however, King and Fornés take it in stride. Danger Street #1 requires no prior reading, as King painstakingly takes on the task of reintroducing several characters back into the DC mythos. Some characters and concepts are instantly recognizable to casual fans, such as Metamorpho or Doctor Fate’s helmet. Others may be brand new to readers but are reintroduced with enough subtlety to make searching through your back issue bins or Wikipedia nonessential.
While Danger Street #1 is mostly set-up for the sprawling twelve-Issue maxiseries to delve into, fans of Tom King will instantly recognize the foreshadowing of themes. The main storytelling device featured here is that of myth and legend. Fornés’ art depicts mundane and fantastical scenarios that are delivered as the backdrop to a narration that describes the events as if we are looking into a classic sword and sorcery tale. This immediately tells us that the events and characters we are seeing are much more important than they initially appear. The narration, delivered by Doctor Fate’s helmet, is sometimes used to explain the status quo, describing characters like Starman and Warlord as princes. At other times, the narration can foreshadow what’s to come when referring to characters like Lady Cop and The Creeper/Jack Ryder as The Princess and The Ogre.
One prevalent theme throughout this issue is the idea of actions having unintended consequences. This is depicted as plainly as Lady Cop allowing The Dingbats to go on with their day, despite their reckless actions; or as severe as Warlord, Starman, and Metamorpho’s attempt to gain quick fame by summoning and defeating the all-powerful Darkseid. By the end of the issue we can see that all of these actions have resulted in disastrous ways. Though this sounds formulaic for a set-up issue, it quickly becomes apparent that King intends this theme to be a throughline for what is to come.
King further delves into this theme when introducing some poignant social commentary with the character of The Creeper/Jack Ryder. Ryder is initially described as “The Ogre” of this tale, misunderstood and falsely stereotyped, although his story quickly becomes that of hypocrisy. Jack Ryder is a conservative news reporter who is quick to blame socialist ideologies for what he considers to be the woes of society.
There is a lot to break down here since King is definitely painting Ryder in this light to show how this thought process is going to lead to unintended consequences for him later in the book. Ryder’s goal throughout this issue is to reclaim his status as a prolific reporter after tarnishing his image. Ultimately, Ryder is attempting to take back a lifestyle that he did not earn through unethical means. Ryder also touts an ideal “Christian lifestyle” while murdering criminals as his alter ego, The Creeper. It appears that Ryder’s narrative throughout this series is going to be a cautionary tale, mimicking undesirable TV personalities such as Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. I am excited to see where this plotline goes as King definitely has a lot to say about conservative media and the hypocrisy within it.
The climax of this issue occurs when Warlord, Starman, and Metamorpho attempt to bring forth Darkseid, resulting in death and possibly worse consequences. It appears that this inciting incident coupled with the actions of background characters like Manhunter and The Creeper are going to take us on a journey that is going to be as crazy as it is unpredictable.
Danger Street #1 is an ambitious opening chapter, serving as an excellent start to a 12-issue DC Black Label maxiseries by the creators of last year's Rorschach. King and Fornés seek to put the limelight on the obscure, while also discussing topics that are poignant to today’s conversation. Fornés’ art highlights the mundane nature of the otherwise sprawling epic about to unfold. Social commentary and realism ground this otherwise fantastical book and serve to promise a story of nuance rather than spectacle.
Danger Street #1: Our Tale Begins…
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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