I’ve been a fan of Jamal Igle’s since his short-lived (but revived last year) series Venture with Jay Faeber back in 2003. His work can have the look of the George Perez school, but his design sense always feels cleaner, and a little less noodley. These days, he’s best known for a classic run on Supergirl with Sterling Gates which helped inspire the current TV series. A few years ago, Igle kickstarted Molly Danger, which he also wrote. The preview was fun; a super-strong alien who perpetually looks like a ten-year old girl takes on a giant mecha piloted by a brain-in-a-robot-body-type villain. It looked fun, and great for an underserved audience (one we’ve heard a lot more about in the years since, as girls want their Black Widow, Gamora, and Rey toys). For whatever reason, I decided to pass on backing it, but ordered a copy when Action Lab picked it up for a mass release. Unfortunately, it stayed in my “to read” pile for, well, a couple of years. I wish I had actually read it sooner, at least so I could have backed the second Kickstarter (more Molly Danger is due this summer).
Molly Danger is better and more interesting comic than the impression created by the preview. Yes, it is entirely appropriate for all ages and features a protagonist perfect for young female readers. However, it does not shy away from the potentially darker implications of its scenario (but crucially, does not indulge in them). DART, the organization Molly works with, is as concerned about protecting people from Molly as the menaces she fights. As a result, Molly’s kept isolated and alone, without any meaningful interactions. Austin Briggs, who joins DART midway through the comic after helping Molly in the opening sequence, almost immediately starts breaking the group’s rules, eating with her and even bringing her home to meet his stepson, Brian. He’s a huge fan and loves meeting his idol, she loves meeting someone her own “age.” But then Molly comes back and sees him again. The scene is, on the surface, a pleasant one between the characters with Molly expressing how alone she feels, but it also subtly suggests that the DART commander could be right about her, as there’s an implication of menace in Molly being able to completely control her relationship with Brian. It’s really skillfully done, perfectly staying on a line that keeps the book appropriate for younger readers yet interesting for older ones. Obviously, Igle’s working with a Superman-type in Molly, but he alters the formula in unique and interesting ways. I won’t let the next volume lie around for two years.
– Joe Gualtieri