Look Out For These Loveable Dum-Dums!
Sometime during lunch yesterday, it got cold up in this piece, a fact which became blatantly clear when I was wandering around outside at three o'clock in the morning. So today, I moved the DVD shelf and pulled my jacket out of the closet. It occurred to me at dinner that the last time I wore the jacket, I had a girlfriend.
Of course, the last time I wore the jacket, I didn't know anything about the Dingbats of Danger Street either, so it's up to you to decide whether I came out ahead.
Tug found this down at the Wiz over the weekend, and while it's pretty commonly regarded as one of Kirby's missteps, I think it's great. It's weird, the characters are barely two-dimensional, and things happen that don't really make sense, but there's just so much entertaining stuff crammed into it that a good bit ends up working. I mean, look at that cover: There's a newspaper that reads "FAR OUT KILLERS STALK INNER CITY!" That is pure comics gold, friends.
The frantic, anything-goes nature of the story fits pretty well, since it appears in First Issue Special, which was DC's catch-all new idea tryout book at the time. Once a month, they'd throw something at the wall to see if it stuck--like, say, Lady Cop or the Mikaal Tomas incarnation of Starman--and, with the exception of Warlord, nothing ever did. Not even the Dingbats.
You do, however, get what might be the best opening sequence since OMAC #2.
The whole thing starts off with Kirby's wonderfully overblown style of introduction: "Their parents don't want them! Their friends don't want them! Society doesn't want them!" That may be because they're a street gang called the "Dingbats," but I guess that's no stranger than, say, the Baseball Furies.
Anyway, we get some introductions from our cardboard cutout Kirby kids. You can pretty much figure out all you need to know from their names, so I'll jsut give you the a quick rundown. There's "Good Looks" ("Know why I'm laughin'? 'Cuz in a minute, there'll be nuthin' to laugh about!"), Non-Fat, Krunch, and Bananas, who might actually be retarded. They're kicking it in front of a fence, presumably on Danger Street. End page one.
Page two? Frigg'n nuts. There's "Jumping Jack," a crazy Batroc the Leaper-lookin' dude with a gun, busting through the fence with his foot caught in Krunch's "exerciser," jumping what's gotta be ten feet of the ground with Non-Fat in a headlock. He's being pursued by Detective Mullins, who's hopping the fence one-handed while shooting at Jumping Jack, his hat flying off as he sends Good Looks sprawling to the ground. This all happens in one panel.
Kirby's caption for the whole thing: "THIS IS HOW FAST THINGS HAPPEN ON DANGER STREET!!!"
If you even try to deny that that is totally rad, you're lookin' for a chin-check, buster.
The rest of the issue pretty much goes downhill from there, but really, how could it not? One big bright spot, though, is when this guy shows up:
This guy, obviously, is the Gasser, and he's Jumping Jack's partner in crime, and I think he's awesome. I want to know why he's never made a comeback, but considering that he's got one of those costumes that only looks good when Jack Kirby or Walt Simonson draws it, and he was defeated by four street urchins, maybe he should stay in the file a little longer. Still, he looks like he just rolled out of teh Firepits of Apokalips, which is fitting since Danger Street bears a striking resemblance to Armaghetto.
Kirby did two more issues worth of Dingbats stories, but they were never published by DC. At the end of this one, readers are invited to write in if they want to see more of the Dingbats, including their tragic origins.
Apparently, nobody did.
Nobody except Karl Kessel, that is.
Feast thine eyes upon Adventures of Superman #549. Don't let the cover fool you--Yes, it features Electric Blue Superman, but it actually is worth reading. Intergang sets fire to the Kents' apartment, and Clark almost dies, then he finds out that his change to Electric Blue Superman is--gasp!--irreversable!
The real attraction, though, is this issue's subplot, which features the second (and only other) appearance of the Dingbats of Danger Street as they rumble with the Newsboy Legion for squatting rights to a condemned theater.
Karl Kessel, you are Savior of the Universe and King of the Impossible. And did I mention that it's drawn by ISB favorite penciller Stuart Immonen? That guy's a machine.
Anyway, Superman steps in, calling up the one group he can think of to resolve the situation. Yes, that's right:
Now that ain't nothin' to fuck with.