A Dummy?s Guide to Danger #1 (ADVANCE)


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A Dummy?s Guide to Danger #1 (ADVANCE)


  • Words: Jason M. Burns
  • Art: Ron Chan
  • Inks: Ron Chan
  • Colors: Ron Chan
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Viper Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Jul 26, 2006

Alan Sirois is a private investigator in the classic Ray Chandler mold, though with one rather prominent exception – he’s partnered with a ventriloquist dummy!

Believe it or not, A Dummy’s Guide to Danger is not a comedy, and in fact only employs incidental humor throughout. There are, of course, the usual snarky witticisms between lead role #1 and lead-role #2, and comments bordering on the juvenile proliferating from the lips of secondary dramatis personae, but overall the tone is, as the title suggests, visceral, menacing, and classic noir in the way that war is considered patriotic – only on the surface, everything else is just pure horror.

The comic opens with a brutal yet oddly light-hearted interrogation scene, wherein we meet our hero, Sirois, and his dummy partner, Bloomberg. After a somewhat intense few pages, our heroes wrangle out the information they need, wrap up another case and wrack up another point for their unblemished case-closing record, then promptly have an expensive luxury sports car drive directly through their office wall. After recovering from the shock, and realizing that they’re unhurt and alive, Sirois and Bloomberg move to the now-stalled ride and see: a headless female corpse strapped to the driver’s seat and bearing a crayon-scrawled, ambiguous message. The game is emphatically afoot.

Sound stunning? Disgusting? Ridiculous? Yes, yes, and yes, it is all of those things, but mostly it’s just a straight-forward detective tale, with all of the above interwoven within. The oddball qualities aren’t the primary concern of the comic, and in fact writer Jason M. Burns treats all his subject matter as if he were writing a mere stock format, iconic adventure – everything, no matter how incongruous, is handled with a staunch matter-of-factness, an understated quality that pulls the reader deep into its clutches without need for explanation nor persuasion. Which is not to say there isn’t a proper backstory for our oddball heroic duo; Burns allots a majority of issue #1’s dialogue to nugget-dropping bits and pieces of the unsurprisingly fascinating origin of Sirois and Bloomberg, though only a part of the picture is painted by the end.

The concept of Bloomberg – the dummy – is an outrageously compelling one. On the flipside comic readers have been exposed to psychopathic villains (such as Batman’s Scarface) who were ventriloquist dolls with a terrifying life all their own, but never have we witnessed one paired with a hero, and a non-powered, street-tough brawler at that. Some of the characters believe Sirois is an immensely talented voice-thrower who is unbalanced and possibly unhinged, and that Bloomberg is precisely what he seems: a lifeless dummy. Okay, actually, everyone believes this, but as a reader I was under the notion that other possibilities existed, that perhaps Sirois is on the up-and-up and Bloomberg may have some otherwise fantastical explanation. Either way, Burns plays deftly with the possibilities, penning sequences of Bloomberg directly addressing others, squabbling with Sirois, and even offering up an ironic explanation for why Sirois would have to carry Bloomberg everywhere he travels.

So, a classic detective tale with a dummy as the thinker – the Holmesian innovator – while Sirois plays the part of rough-and-tumble pulp adventurer, and both characters find themselves thrust into cases involving sudden, scandalous deaths of an appropriately sickening caliber, even for today’s jaded youth. Though perhaps the reason the concept and the style work as frighteningly well as they do is due to Ron Chan’s mordantly serene artwork. His figures and faces retain the dark, cartoon quality of Troy Nixey’s work, though his movement and action is redolent of more stolid superhero fare such as a Dan Jurgens or Dick Giordano book might give, thereby lending that splash of Doc Savage flair necessary for Sirois and the world he inhabits to truly look the part.

In case you’ve missed the point, A Dummy’s Guide to Danger is a friggin’ brilliant idea mired within an easy-to-thrill genre that somehow manages to come out of the wash looking a sight more resplendent than either component did going in. Unlike most new series out there – which may be damn fine books when all is said and done – I only had to read this one, single 22-page installment to realize that I wanted every last drop more. I like horror. I like noir. I love dummies. I’m hooked like Smee, and highly recommend this comic to everyone with better than dial-up internet connections (you dial-up throwbacks wouldn’t get it, anyway). Grab it before the graphic novel comes out, because…uh…I mean, who likes graphic novels? Really!

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