Danger Street

#1A

Release: Dec 13, 2022

Creators

WriterTom King
ArtistJorge Fornés
ColoristDave Stewart
Cover ArtistJorge Fornés
LettererClayton Cowles
EditorChris Conroy
Editor in ChiefMarie Javins

After we do this, show them what we can do, we get inducted into the team…

Back in the 1970s, DC launched a series called 1st Issue Special that served as a combination launchpad and clearinghouse. Ideally, each issue served as kind of a pilot for a potential new series, featuring either new characters or older, somewhat obscure characters. However, the reality was that it served more as a dumping ground for unpublished material that they had sitting around, and most of what appeared in 1st Issue Special didn’t really amount to much.

One notable exception was Mike Grell’s The Warlord, which got picked up as a series that went on to run for 133 issues. The Warlord – AKA Lt. Colonel Travis Morgan – appeared in 1st Issue Special #8 in 1975.

#8 is one of two issues of 1st Issue Special that I have in my collection. My copy was signed by Mike Grell in support of The Hero Initiative.

1st Issue Special ran for 13 issues, and, as noted, featured characters both new and old.


Issue #DateFeatured character and story titleWriterArtists
1April 1975AtlasJack KirbyJack Kirby and D. Bruce Berry
2May 1975The Green Team: Boy MillionairesJoe SimonJerry Grandenetti
3June 1975Metamorpho, The Element Man:
“The Freak and the Billion-Dollar Phantom”.
Bob HaneyRamona Fradon
4July 1975Lady Cop:
“Poisoned Love”
Robert KanigherJohn Rosenberger and Vince Colletta
5August 1975ManhunterJack KirbyJack Kirby and D. Bruce Berry
6September 1975Dingbats of Danger StreetJack KirbyJack Kirby and Mike Royer
7October 1975The Creeper:
“Menace of The Human Fire-Fly”.
Michael FleisherSteve Ditko and Mike Royer
8November 1975The Warlord:
“Land of Fear”
Mike Grell
9December 1975Doctor Fate:
“The Mummy That Time Forgot”
Martin PaskoWalt Simonson
10January 1976The Outsiders:
“Us…The Outsiders”.
Joe SimonJerry Grandenetti and Creig Flessel
11February 1976Codename: AssassinGerry Conway and Steve SkeatesThe Redondo Studio and Al Milgrom
12March 1976StarmanGerry ConwayMike Vosburg and Mike Royer
13April 1976Return of the New Gods:
“Lest Night Fall Forever”.
Gerry Conway and Denny O’NeilMike Vosburg
(Via Wikipedia)

One of the most notable things about the series is how much Kirby it contained, with three issues written and illustrated by the King, and the final issue featuring characters he’d created.

Many of the characters featured would go on to make appearances over the ensuing decades – some more often/prominently than others – but some others just completely disappeared.

Until now.

A few spoilers will follow…

In Danger Street, a 12-issue maxi-series from DC’s Black Label line, Tom King and Jorge Fornés are crafting a new narrative featuring the various stars of 1st Issue Special. The title of the book comes from the sixth issue of 1st Issue Special (1IS from this point on), which featured “The Dingbats of Danger Street,” a gang of kids created by Jack Kirby.

Our story opens with the star of 1SP #9, or at least his helmet, which, despite not being worn by anyone, begins to tell us a tale.

Said tale unfolds in a typical Tom King fashion, moving back and forth between multiple seemingly unrelated sequences, each one featuring a different character or set of characters, that will, one assumes, eventually come together.

And, in fact, several of the separate threads do come together by the end of the first issue, though other remain unaccounted for.

In any case, after the initial appearance of the storytelling helmet, we bring together 1IS #4 and #6, as “Lady Cop” chases after the “Dingbats” who are causing a bit of a disruption by illegally driving an ATV down the titular street. While boisterous, and more than a little clueless, the Dingbats, seem to be generally good-natured kid, and “lady Cop” – which is how the Dingbats refer to her, despite her objections – helps bring them to their destination in the valley rather than bringing them in.

From there, we move to the star of 1SP, the vigilante known as The Creeper, who is busy chasing someone – a criminal, presumably – down a dark alley and then delivering a bloody, merciless beating. We then cut to a scene of him as his alter ego, conservative pundit Jack Ryder, who it seems is in need of a new job and is discussing an opportunity with his manager.

Next, we meet up in a restaurant with the stars of 1IS #3, #8, and #12: Metamorpho, The Warlord, and Starman, respectively, with Dr. Fate’s helmet also joining in later.

Starman – at least this version – is one character I’m unfamiliar with. I understand that he popped up in the 1990s’ series Starman, as did all of the other characters to go by that name – there have been quite a few – but that series came out right around the time my hiatus from comics began, and I have not, as yet, gotten around to reading it. (I have, however, gotten around to owning it, as you can see from a recent Pull List post.)

However, this unlikely trio (plus the helmet) seems to be part of the central plot of the whole story, as we’ll learn later. Before that point, the star of 1SP #5 makes a brief appearance, and we learn that the Manhunter should be called the Kidhunter, as he has been given the unfortunate task of tracking down and killing some as-yet unnamed children. (The Dingbats, perhaps?)

The story threads begin to come together in the valley where the Dingbats are joyriding and where Warlord, Starman, and Metamorpho are performing some kind of ritual using the helmet of Fate, a ritual that they insist will earn them membership in the Justice League.

Our POV switches between the various characters, including a scene in which Jack Ryder discovers that his prospective employers are the stars of 1IS #2 (who mention the stars of #10), and ultimately the issue ends in tragedy in the valley, when the trio attempting to summon – and imprison – Darkseid end up summoning the star of 1IS #1, Atlas.

The other 1st Issue Special I have in my collection.

I’ve been looking forward to this book since King first hinted at it on Twitter earlier this year, and was disappointed when its release got delayed, so I’m glad to see that it’s finally arrived.

As noted, many of these characters are familiar to me, but a lot are unfamiliar beyond simple awareness of their existence, such as Lady Cop and that iteration of Starman, so in many ways this is as much an introduction as those old issues of 1IS would have been.

Overall, the issue had a kind of Tarantino feel to it, given that it was mostly disconnected scenes with a lot of talking, though I find King’s dialogue a lot more palatable than Tarantino’s (which is a personal preference thing, so don’t bother coming at me, film nerds). I will say, though, that Travis Morgan is the character in this book with whom I’m most familiar, and his dialogue seems a bit off and out of character, but then again, he’s not really interacting with people in his usual setting, so that could be by design.

I’m also very familiar with Metamorho, and his dialogue – and behavior – also seems a bit off, and though I know very little about Starman, the whole premise that these three characters, and especially the Warlord, want to join the Justice League so desperately is the biggest mystery in the book.

That is, however, something of an interesting metaphor, given the ostensible purpose of 1IS. Each issue was a character getting a shot at making it to the big leagues in the form of getting their own series, and what league comes bigger than the Justice League?

The Fornés art brings to mind Keith Giffen, which is a very good fit for this eclectic collection of obscure characters, particularly given that my first introduction to some of them was in an issue of Ambush Bug illustrated by Giffen. It’s a clean, simple style that works well when depicting characters from very different genres first brought to the page by artists with very different styles, and Dave Stewart’s subtle colors complement the line work nicely.

It’s an intriguing beginning, and I’m looking forward to seeing how all of these disparate characters come together. I’m hoping, likely in vain, as it is Tom King, after all, that the future interactions will be a bit less tragic.


Born and raised in the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Jon Maki developed an enduring love for comics at an early age.


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