Think Bananaman with a more modern twist, and a more orangy hue. That’s what you’re getting from Lawrence’s debut from the citrus power-ranger look-a-like that is Dangerine. Inside you’ll find something fast, slight, but with quite a bit of fun, quite a bit of funny, and a good dose of superhero pastiche.
Overall, it’s pretty clever, knowingly playing with the ideas of what makes a superhero comic work. It feels in so many ways like a 70s Brit comic version of a superhero, played for laughs. From the very first panel you know just where this is going…
The art has something of the loose about it, albeit done up to the nines for the modern day, but it’s that first caption box, full of hyperbole and Stan Lee worthy pomp and bluster that sets the tone. This is superhero pastiche done well, done right. From here it’s not long before all manner of superhero clichés are brought out, from the origin story, to the training sequence, to the great power/great responsibility moment.. it’s all here. All done right as well, and all with the tongue firmly jammed in the cheek.
Del Montgomery finds himself suckered into rescuing an old guy from a mugging, an old guy who then turns round and zaps him with some experimental super-power-y thingy. Turns out the old guy is Prof. Ezekiel Boom… and what a great bad guy name that one is, more on him later.
Meanwhile Del has woken up, and finds himself like this….
You’re wearing a bright orange spandex suit mate, what’s the problem?
Oh, right. I see what you mean.
From here we’re trotting through so many superhero clichés that it would be a bit twee if it weren’t for Lawrence’s witty dialogue and very eye-friendly artwork essentialy delivering a pastiche of a pastiche, Bananaman meets Moore’s Miracleman:
After this we’re given the full training regimen thing. Plus a final battle with a marauding monster for good measure, all the while getting to know just how much power Del has accidentally been gifted by Prof. Boom even if the Prof. only managed to combine Del with a Tangerine… citrus power a-go-go.
By issue two it’s reluctant sidekick Bob Bristol who really makes Dangerine, filling the comic with the funny, way funnier and smarter than Del and frankly far more pumped by what’s going on,. enthusiasm unbound.
Oh yes, that’s Orzo, the Guardian-like character who makes us realise that Lawrence is mixing his Marvel narrative and dialogue with his DC spacey stuff, all the time mixing it up with classic Kirby weirdness. So much stuff going on in here, including the secret origin of that Prof Boom bloke, yet Lawrence still manages to make it fun whether you realise what he’s going on about or not, recognise the references, don’t recognise the references, it doesn’t really matter, it’s all pretty enjoyable anyhow.
The whole T-Fusion origin tale goes on and on and on, but even that is worked in as part of the gag, the whole boring back-story delivered whilst Del snoozes and Bob sits agog, and following that we get Del reducing everything to its frankly ridiculous conclusions…..
Lawrence manages to take us from silly to serious and beyond, and then all the way back to serious so easily, it’s a pleasure to watch.
Thing is, Dangerine is something that has rather blindsided me, I was expecting one thing and I sure got that, but I got a damn sight more as well. Lawrence’s superhero pastiche is spot on and done with some style, but he’s not afraid to mix it all up as well, Marvel meets DC, meets classic UK comedy superhero ideas, and deep in issue 2, we’re suddenly dropping into Akira territory. Seriously, take a look at this page and tell me I’m wrong:
That’s just so kinetically fab, don’t you think? Very manga,very Akira. Very good.
In the final analysis, if nothing else matters here, you’ll surely find yourself googling the word Bergamot, just because it’s mentioned here. And any new knowledge is good knowledge right?
Dangerine is just a little burst of pure and simple citrus-y fun, nothing too substantial certainly, but loads of fun, with Lawrence obviously wearing his superhero influences on his sleeve, but doing something uniquely British with them, creating a superhero that’s part Brit teen slacker, part classic archetype, and mixing in as many influences as he possibly can from the world of superhero comics. Frankly, whether you recognise what he’s doing or not, there’s something in here that will keep you entertained. Loads of fnn, well worth a look.