Danger Street #9
A true joust the likes of which has not been seen since medieval times! Both knights, noble in their quest, are ready to do whatever it takes to bring honor to their sigil. Witness Manhunter and Codename: Assassin fight to the death in a match of wits and stamina as the life of the Commodore and the universe hang in the balance!
Tom King has been very vocal about how excited he’s been for the release of Danger Street #9. Unlike the previous issues in the DC Black Label maxi-series, this issue is dedicated strictly to two characters: Manhunter and Codename: Assassin. This issue has been described as a “bottle episode” style issue, which fits that bill. At the end of Danger Street #8, a fight between these two characters is set up, and it all comes to fruition here. Taking place on a rooftop, this fight sprawls throughout the entire issue, with some momentary stops for the characters to discuss the goings-on of this series. Unlike anything that’s come before it, Danger Street #9 is the most unique, minimalistic, and inventive issue thus far.
Jorge Fornes takes on an interesting task for the art in this issue, acting as a quasi-choreographer, penciling and inking the sprawling sword fight. Since this issue occurs in one setting, going back and forth between Manhunter and Codename: Assassin during their combat, there are not many opportunities for Fornes to do anything explosive or revolutionary. Thankfully, Fornes strives for an issue like this, utilizing his skills as a detailed artist to display all the nuance between these two knights. By far, the best art here has to be when Fornes draws the cityscape underneath these characters as they fight on top of an urban high-rise. At one point, Manhunter is dropped off of the high rise, depicted across a couple of pages, showing the street growing closer and closer in the foreground. Fornes uses this framing device to imply impending doom while keeping a detailed expression on Manhunter’s face, highlighting the character’s cunning premonition regarding the fight’s outcome. This section exemplifies the kind of work that Fornes does in this series.
Marvel commissioned Fornes throughout late 2021 and the majority of 2022 to draw “window shade” variant covers for some of the popular on-goings, utilizing a theme of drawing the series’ titular character behind a window shade, which would look different depending on the character. A lot of the appeal of those covers was the nuance used to explain the other character’s temperaments, such as Ghost Rider’s flame being visible behind the blinds or Daredevil being the only character being almost fully visible out of all the covers, highlighting the themes of vision, justice, and blindness in his character. Fornes brings this same nuance to Danger Street #9, using that same theme in the cover. The cover, depicting the Green Team’s large building with the fight on top, is rightfully punctuated by the lightning bolt on top. This highlights the battle’s importance while also showing how small and insignificant this fight may appear to the infinitely large city below. Like the aforementioned “window shade” variants, this cover uses the setting of the building to highlight the critical aspects of this issue while also showing how hidden and minuscule this battle would appear to those below.
Colorist Dave Stewart chooses to color the sky throughout the issue, highlighting the impending doom. Combined with comically vibrant colors in the character’s costumes, Stewart is well-equipped to use his talents to convey the same themes that Fornes uses in his pencils. The Red Sky is a fun callback to the many crises the DC universe has seen. The vibrant costumes also tie this back to the comic roots; however, they also serve as a reminder that the fate of the universe is up to these assassins who dress in bright colors, contradictory to their nature. Overall, Stewart’s colors build upon Fornes’s work while hitting themes in and of themselves.
Much like the issues before, Danger Street #9 is named after the corresponding 1st Issue Special from which this series is built. But even more poignant is that this issue is named after Doctor Fate, even though he doesn’t appear. This may be odd at face value, but the title is more indicative of the content here than the actual character. In a way, Danger Street #9’s themes of fate, or the fear of chance overshadowing fate, actually serve as a discussion about the series as a whole. King writes this issue as a battle of wits, with the two knights constantly trying to outthink the other while showing that the larger story is about characters trying to escape or embrace their fate. This series continually provokes new discussions, proving that the story lies within the subtext, with the idea of fate now providing a whole new outlook on what’s come.
Most of this issue’s content revolves around how Manhunter and Codename: Assassin believe they can outsmart one another. Manhunter is much quieter about his approach, coaxing Codename: Assassin into falling into his trap while hiding an ace up his sleeve. Codename: Assassin, on the other hand, is very upfront about his intentions, with the issue starting mid-fight as he declares that a tie for him is, in fact, a win. These separate approaches make the subject more interesting than a traditional sword fight. This also shows the level of arrogance within these characters and how trivial they view a fight that means a lot to their benefactors, more so themselves. Overall, this issue effectively distills the themes and motifs throughout the entire series while highlighting these two knights on their own.
Danger Street #9 is different from anything that’s come before in this series. While it may seem odd to use so much dialogue in a book consisting of one large fight, King, Fornes, and Stewart use this opportunity to connect everything thematically in the overall grand scheme of the narrative.
Danger Street #9: Heads Or Tails?
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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