We Are the Danger #1
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Fabian Lelay
Colors: Claudia Aguirre
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Editor: Stephanie Cooke
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Price: $3.99 US
There’s been a great deal of discussion as of late in comics fandom and in the industry about diversity, about new creative voices and more inclusive interpretations of characters, both new and established. A lot of that discussion has arisen from a push back by a vocal minority who argue that diversity doesn’t sell. They argue about how properties they’ve loved all their lives have been transformed into women or have seen minorities fill those roles, as though if were actually possible the corporate owners of those characters aren’t eventually going to revert them to the status quo. I don’t get it. I don’t get why people are threatened by broadening the talent base and the array of characters to add to and expand the overall tapestry of the medium.
We Are the Danger is a comic book that brings more of that diversity to comics, that invites readers in who might not have otherwise been felt welcome decades ago. But it does so in a way that doesn’t dwell on its pro-diversity elements, and instead just focuses on engaging characters. And it’s a good bit of fun as well.
Filipino immigrant Julie has just moved with her family to a new town, and predictably, she feels like quite the outsider, but one girl at school has connected with her, and that friendship promises to transform Julie’s world. They share a love of music, and Julie’s and Tabitha’s appreciation of each other’s talent, and the latter’s ouster from her previous band, brings them in a creative endeavour that will them down a thrilling road… and into conflict with Tabitha’s rival.
Fabian Lelay’s artwork is obviously heavily influenced by a Japanese manga/anime style, but it’s not wholly derived from it. There are hints of Archie-house elements as well. There are some interesting approaches to design throughout the comic; I was particularly taken with the mixtape layout for a two-page spread and the use of Filipino language/lyrics as a backdrop for a couple of key panels instead of being used as dialogue balloons. The colors throughout the book are appropriately bright, reinforced the upbeat, energetic tone of the story and characters.
Lelay’s plot also boasts some Japanese pop-cultural beats as well, such as the focus on music and the fiercely intense antagonist who feels her position as the queen of the music scene threatened by the central characters. I was also pleased to see the writer/artist avoid the cliche of Julie’s immigrant family disapproving of her new friends or passion for rock/pop music. The only negative vibe throughout the book is Logan, and while the character lacks depth, she serves as the key element of conflict in an otherwise pleasant story about burgeoning friendship and blossoming creativity.
In terms of subject matter, this comic has some things in common with such recent titles as Phonogram and Black Canary, but as I read it, I was reminded more of G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel and the Archie relaunch that Mark Waid helmed in recent years. It’s not these books share plot points, but there’s just a general vibe of youthful energy and teenage conflict that makes them fun to read. This opening chapter unfolds at a breakneck pace, so there’s not a lot of time to get to know these characters in depth (and Logan, the antagonist, is a rather one-dimensional figure thus far), but there’s something intrinsically likeable about Julie and Tabitha that the reader can’t help but get swept up in their whirlwind friendship and musical alliance. 8/10