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‘Danger Girl’ Finds Its Writer, But Where Is Its Audience?

The 1990s cheesecake comic book will need a serious overhaul to remain relevant.
Danger Girl
By  · Published on February 22nd, 2018

The 1990s cheesecake comic book will need a serious overhaul to remain relevant.

J. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell’s “Danger Girl is the ultimate celebration of 1980s action and adventure, and it would become one of the most sought after comic books of the 1990s. Campbell poured his love of Indiana Jones, James Bond, and pinup art into every panel of the series. It’s a comic that has made several attempts to land of the big and small screen but was always met with resistance. Charlie’s Angels sputtered out, that’s all she wrote.

Now it appears that a film adaptation is actually moving full steam ahead. According to The Hollywood Reporter, up-and-coming screenwriter Umair Aleem (Extraction, the forthcoming Netflix thriller Kate) has been scooped up to crack Danger Girl’s script. Details are spotty on just how he’s going to do that, but one can assume the film will still follow a trilogy of super secret agents as they butt heads against the villainous Hammer Syndicate. Spies, ancient mysticism, and swim suits. It’s basic G.I. Joe stuff.

The question remains, though, whether there is room for a skimpily clad deadly assassination squad in our current cultural climate. After the runaway success of Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman, do we really want to see a female James Bond sleep her way through espionage hijinks? Aleem will need to seriously overhaul Danger Girl’s male gaze aesthetic for it to land any traction. It takes more than just ass-kicking female assassins to earn our attention these days.

The ’90s was a decade plagued by the comic book speculative market. The industry was determined to rob pre-pubescent boys of their chore money and trick the rubes into purchasing chromium covers and pogs. So many damn pogs. They had almost zero interest in female dollars, or really in anyone else outside of the white boy demographic. Big guns, big pouches, and big boobs were what drove the industry, and no one ruled that arena better than Image Comics. Founded by seven infamous illustrators (Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Erik Larsen, Marc Silvestri, Jim Valentino, and Whilce Portacio) that held a mastery over sequential art, if not basic narrative technique. Publishing titles like “Spawn,” “Wildcats,” “Youngblood,” and “The Savage Dragon,” Image increased its hold on 12-year-old boys by luring in other top tier cheesecake artists like Michael Turner and J. Scott Campbell. Alliances would be tested, money would be made.

The company would splinter into several creator-owned publishing lines. Jim Lee’s WildStorm Productions would eventually be absorbed into DC Comics, and that allowed writer Andy Hartnell and Campbell to take their own “Danger Girl” series to IDW Publishing where it currently makes its home. After the success of their main series, “Danger Girl” only made the occasional one-shot appearance. Abby Chase, the main heroine, has crossed over with IDW’s G.I. Joe line as well as Dynamite Comics’ “Army of Darkness.” Campbell makes most of his money these days guesting on covers for Marvel.

Image Comics has reworked its tone as well. Still the home of “Spawn” and “The Savage Dragon,” the company has regained its credibility by pushing complicated, emotionally rich genre tales like “Kill or Be Killed” and “East of West.” Although they’re probably most championed these days for being the home of “The Walking Dead.” If they could do it, there’s no stopping a Danger Girl film from also altering its T&A origins.

Maybe we should look to next month’s Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence, for guidance. On the surface it appears to be a steamier take on the MCU’s Black Widow, but her covert agent is not doing anything James Bond hasn’t been enjoying for decades. Danger Girl could work somewhere between Red Sparrow’s dower undercover work and Widow’s Thanos-smashing spectacular.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)