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Graphic novel review: FTN reviews DMC volume 1

February 2nd, 2016 by Dave Bowling Comments


Writer: Darryl McDaniels.
Story: Darryl McDaniels and Damion Scott. 
Chase Conley, Jeff Stokeley, Felipe Smith, Mark & Mike Davis, Nick Scley, Shawn Crystal, Khoi Pham.
Publisher: Darryl Makes Comics, New York.

Welcome to New York City, 1985. Crime is rife. The Bernhard Goetz vigilante shooting is only a few months ago. Tensions, both ethnic and socio-economic, are at boiling point.

So when super-powered criminals and vigilantes begin to take to the streets and hurt anyone who happens to get in their way, it’s perhaps a good thing that DMC, one third of the legendary hip-hop pioneers Run DMC, never got a recording contract and instead developed metahuman powers and a sense of community responsibility. Armed with incredible strength, fighting skills that would make Bruce Lee jealous and huge gold knuckledusters with his handle carved into them, DMC takes to the streets and rooftops of the Five Boroughs to stop anyone who would hurt the ordinary people of New York.

And here, in a nutshell, is one of the maddest and most fun books I have come across in some time. The introduction of the mysterious DMC, via reporter Charlie Cooper’s dogged determination to get to the bottom of the rise in vigilante justice taking hold of New York, is brilliant. She talks to anyone who has seen the Adidas-wearing superhero in action, painting a picture of someone who just cares for the forgotten and downtrodden in a city of eight million. There’s no epic story of loss and regret like the ones you’d associate with Batman, Superman or Spider-Man. He can help people, so he does. Simple as that. As the story progresses and Charlie finds herself experiencing the terror of superhuman justice without conscience, the reader is made privy to what DMC has yet to find out: there are forces at work guiding the wave of superhuman activity in the city.

So then. Musician-turned-comic writer. Recipe for disaster, you might think. But considering McDaniels is a colossal comic geek, no. The guy has admitted that in the early days of Run DMC he used to be so nervous about performing in public he’d go on stage pretending to himself that he was the Hulk. The storytelling is brilliant, completely irreverent but at the same time touchingly compelling in places. The artwork is sublime, and unusually for a book that has a different artist working on each chapter, brilliantly consistent. The passion everybody involved puts into their work here is evident and it pays off spectacularly.

There’s really no major flaws here, which is unusual to say the least. The only really bad thing I can say is that, at five chapters, the book is rather on the short side. But my appetite’s already whetted for the next one. Seriously, this is a frenetic piece of visually pleasing fun that makes sly digs at the 1980s wherever possible. What’s not to love?

4.5 out of 5 nerds

4.5 out of 5 nerds

Dave was born at an early age to parents of both sexes. He has been a self-confessed geek for as long as he can remember, having been raised through the 80s on a steady diet of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Red Dwarf and (sigh) Knight Rider. Throw the usual assortment of Saturday morning cartoons into the mix and we have something quite exceptional: someone with an encyclopaedic knowledge of utter tosh; a love of giant robots and spaceships fighting; and the strange desire to leap tall buildings in a single bound while wearing his underpants over his trousers. The death ray is currently in the works and one day you shall all bow to him, his giant space station and fleet of funky orange space shuttles...