Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews — now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘We Are The Danger #1, out May 30 from Black Mask Studios.
By Clyde Hall. When asked in a 1980 Playboy interview why a Beatles reunion album or tour was unthinkable, John Lennon answered, “Do you want to go back to high school? Why should I go back ten years to provide an illusion for you that I know does not exist?” He recognized and succinctly related the ephemeral nature of art and creativity, especially within a group dynamic consisting of equally dynamic and talented individuals.
You can imagine similar Behind the Music moments in fifteen years for members of a teen band as you read the first issue of We Are The Danger. From there, the notion expands. Would it be a retrospective on the genesis of their legendary band, or the musings of the one member who made it to the Big-Time as their bandmates fell away? Or will their group be a here-and-now channel of teen angst, never evolving further? Or — worst-case scenario — they become a One Hit Wonder?
Short answer, you care enough about this cast of young characters that you’re already invested in what their futures might hold or withhold. Which means writer and artist Fabian Lelay has launched this series admirably.
Main protagonist Julie is the new kid, never an easy high school label to bear, and her first day is what the pessimist in us all expects. Until she makes friends with Tabitha, who invites her to a club and turns out to be in a band performing there. Julie has an interest in music, and this discovery salvages her day. Chaos ensues, egos flair, but Tabitha walking out on her band after the show only slightly diminishes the magic of the evening. The two girls are kindred souls, well-met and impressed with each other’s talents. Quickly, a chorus strikes up: “Let’s form our own band!” The rest of the issue briefly chronicles them doing just that plus making an enemy along the way.
Lelay establishes tons cleverly and in short order, giving the reader a chance to share in the whirlwind tumult Julie’s life takes. Teenage pivotal events can be that way, and Lelay remembers. (He even brought back long-repressed memories of my own mercifully brief brush with teen band musical expression, The Human Targets.) Showing the titles of songs Julie’s written gives us instant insights to who she is, where she’s at emotionally, her fears and her hopes.
The basic archetypes of the cast are put into place: Julie, the unsure poet. Tabitha, the creative berserker. Scooter, the realist. Simon, the white knight. Dee Dee, the first groupie. Badass Recruit Girl, the older and more mature member. Also established is their nemesis, Logan Ingram, lead singer of the group Tabitha split from. Logan talks a great vengeance, and I’m interested in how much future ruing she orchestrates on the fledgling ensemble.
Manga influences Lelay’s art style, infusing the book with inspired character expressions and setting the tempo without becoming too overt to strike a pleasing balance. Claudia Aguirre’s colors also balance, pure and vibrant but never gaudy. She’s a light-bearer, and her stage lighting, club lighting, and backlighting effects are mind-blowing punctuations to the narrative.
Again, the pace is swift and may exceed some reader speed limits. We don’t yet know the name of Logan’s killer band that everyone follows and that Tabitha leaves. We don’t know the name of the last recruit for We Are The Danger, though she lives up to her badass skill set briefly in looks and ‘tude. Lelay intends these omissions, I believe, because they are perfectly timed and make sense. Logan’s band name is announced just as Julie realizes her new friend is on stage with them. The recruit so blows everyone away with her playing when they walk in on a session, they nag her to join without bothering to get a name.
In interviews, Lelay’s entertained notions of how characters from Jade Street Protection Services (with art by Lelay and written by Katy Rex) would stack up as a band. Thus, We Are The Danger might come off as mere wish fulfillment, and one that emulates other series concepts already being done. Except that he does it very well, well enough you don’t care about all that. You just get swept up in the breakneck, youthful creative process of passion and possibilities.
Black Mask Studios/$3.99
Written by Fabian Lelay.
Art by Fabian Lelay.
Colors by Claudia Aguirre.
Letters by Taylor Esposito.
8 out of 10
‘We Are The Danger’ #1 is in stores May 30.
Check out our interview with Fabian Lelay and Claudia Aguirre here.