If you’re into cowboys and westerns, or hard-boiled detectives, there aren’t exactly a lot of stories that combine those particular genres, especially in Filipino comics. In their own little way, that’s what Chad Cabrera and Mike Banting sought out to accomplish. In what tends to sometimes be a strange brew of both, Drop Dead Dangerous seems to have a few things going for it that might just tickle your fancy.
What to expect
Gunslingers, drop dead women, serial killers, mobile phones, and Nazis – I told you it could get weird. However, with every brand new mix, the weirdness somehow comes together in creating a sense of mystery and intrigue. For these first 2 issues, you don’t quite know what’s going on just yet, but you’re left wondering and wanting to know more about the situation that Jack and Alice, our protagonists, find themselves mixed up in.
1 Art Style. Though not exactly an avid follower of anime and manga, I grew up with the style and have to say that Mike Banting does a good job with the panels and layouts. The character designs are a treat to the eyes, simple as they may be, and everything blends together quite well.
2 Introduction. With the story being tied with murder and mystery, there are a lot of questions hanging in the air. We know right off the bat who the killer is, as well as his M.O. but we have yet to discover the reasons and nature of this killer. The same goes with our protagonists. You have an inkling of their basic attitude and character, and the depth of their being is slowly being explored as the story continues to develop.
3 Themes. There is a certain religious theme hanging over the two issues, one that is at the same time met with scandal through foul-mouthed ladies bearing religious artifacts such as rosaries and nun’s outfits. Although it’s not clear what exactly this symbolism is pointing toward, it makes for somewhat entertaining reading, often bringing to mind Trigun and other like-themed creations from Japan, with a touch of the kind of gore and obscenity that reminds me of Tarantino’s films.
1 Mystery. Yes, there is a sense of mystery present within the comic, but not in the typical fashion that you’d often see in mystery novels. This might have been the author’s intention, though, as detective fiction often tries to reinvent itself and yet maintain the same guidelines and format.
2 Detectives being detectives. If the main character of a mystery story is a detective, then I’d like to see just how is it he came to be a detective. I’d like to see deductive skills at work more often. Otherwise, Jack Smith here is just a regular cowboy and not really an investigator. This, I believe, is important when you first introduce your character. It’s what made readers intrigued when Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle introduced their own famous detectives. What makes Jack Smith memorable as a detective? That’s my main question.
Is he just a normal detective with no special skill? Could be, but that doesn’t make him very interesting. There have been diverse kinds of detectives, after all. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, for example, tells of a kid that’s “special” formulating a case of his own simply because he noticed that there was something out of place in the everyday routine of his neighbor.3 Direction. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good, gory piece on occasion. However, the stories and films that I like that include those aspects have great storytelling hooks that keep you engaged. What I mean is that, besides the action scenes, there should be more to the story that keeps me coming back for more—something that grabs at the heart, mind, and soul.
Django Unchained was gory and action-packed as ever, but there was something about Jamie Fox’s character that made you root for him all throughout the film. He had a purpose and goal, and as a viewer, I wanted to see if that goal would be accomplished in the end. At this point, it’s Jack that has that kind of potential, but Jack isn’t exactly the focus of the story as of yet. Hopefully, that changes as the tale unfolds in later issues.
There are good points and things that could still be improved upon in Drop Dead Dangerous. It has the potential to be even better in later issues, so I’ll just wait till I get a copy of them to find out.