Danger Street #1 Review: 13 Tales Collide in a Special First Issue – ComicBook.com

By Chase Magnett
Danger Street #1 introduces itself as a shaggy dog story – opening on Doctor Fate’s helmet being set at a bar before proceeding to tell of how it arrived. What follows is an introduction to nearly a dozen distinctive tales drawn from DC Comics’ 1st Issue Special series of the 1970s and promising to weave themselves together. Fans of modern shaggy dog tales like The Big Lebowski or The Nice Guys will recognize that this first issue isn’t about anything in particular. Fate’s helmet may narrate with grandiosity, but the issue itself is focused on too many characters and plot threads, big and small, to be summarized. That lack of focus is what makes the issue an unexpected amount of fun to read as the various misadventures and mysteries threaten to eventually collide in further chaos.
For readers unfamiliar with the underlying inspiration, the number of characters on the page (and their relative degrees of insignificance, ranging from Metamorpho to Lady Cop) are bound to be startling. Without any grounding it likely plays like a series of prologues found in those over-priced and over-rendered continuity relaunching one-shots DC delivers every year or two. Yet for those familiar with 1st Issue Special and the 13 one-shot adventures focused on largely unknown characters, it’s an impressive feat to see how they are all woven together. It’s not essential to notice Codename: Assassin lurking in the background of a single panel, but it helps to be in on the joke. 
Yet when appreciated as a riff on 13 idiosyncratic concepts woven together with the style of a Coen Brothers film, the messy nature of the narrative becomes a strength. Danger Street is a comic book for readers who enjoy strange comic book odysseys that don’t rely on convoluted continuity or obvious social metaphors to proceed. 
The most obvious strands of the story provide enough grounding to intrigue the uninitiated. While Fate’s helmet plays narrator, a crew of three C-list superheroes (Warlord, Starman (the blue one), and Metamorpho) seek a promotion in their profession and Lady Cop tangles with the Dingbats of Danger Street about where to ride their dune buggy. It’s in these spaces where characters are already crossing over that writer Tom King finds space for characterization and humor. The incompetents seeking Justice League membership are appealing in their desperate dreaming and conflicting personalities. Lady Cop and the Dingbats may provide relatively low stakes, but their banter highlights them as the most enjoyable presence of the issue. Even as it remains uncertain what any of Danger Street is about, these characters invite readers to stick around and figure it out.
Perhaps the biggest draw to Danger Street #1 is the depiction of so much varied material by Jorge Fornés coming off of prior King-collaboration Rorschach. Even readers unfamiliar with the underlying inspiration will recognize the diverse approaches applied by Fornés as the first issue continually pivots between perspectives. 1st Issue Special highlighted artistic talents including Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Walt Simonson, and Ramona Fradon. It’s easy to see the influence of those first two in the application of familiar grids, while more subtle effects create many an homage. This does not situate Danger Street as nostalgia, but acknowledges that it’s actively engaging with comics history, even as its introduction rambles about.
Fornés received much acclaim for his work on Rorschach and for those who didn’t want to watch DC stick it to Alan Moore once again, it’s apparent why that was from page one here. His characters read as essential with clear designs and sequences in which their form and action express character at every turn. Clear facial expressions provide life to storylines that are often goofy on their face, as they humanize even the cartoonish Dingbats to great effect. Turning from childlike antics to explosive figures possessing Kirby-esque girth showcases just how versatile Fornés’ style is, and promises readers that whatever comes next will be worth witnessing.
Danger Street #1 is ultimately a very strange comic, much in the spirit of its inspiration, the indelibly weird 1st Issue Special. It introduces readers to more than a half dozen, largely disconnected plot threads focusing on some of the least-remembered figures in DC Comics’ history, and it does so in an utterly enticing fashion. What the story is about remains largely unimportant when set beside the curiosity of following such strange figures down their various rabbit holes. It’s a shaggy dog tale of exploration with no promise of a satisfying conclusion, but with an abundance of character, style, and wit to savor. Whatever comes next, Danger Street is bound to be one of 2023’s most memorable comics.
Published by DC Comics
On December 13, 2022
Written by Tom King
Art by Jorge Fornés
Colors by Dave Stewart
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Cover by Jorge Fornés
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