Hashtag: Danger – Volume One: Panic On Dinosaur Mountain by Tom Peyer and Chris Giarrusso (graphic novel review)

A piece of advice given to reviewers for this site is to try and select things to review that you have a chance of liking or at least might find interesting. This is because someone who flat-out dislikes a particular genre is going to struggle to deliver a useful critique for potential purchasers of that product. I mention this because I am both a comics fan and like stories which play with the tropes of SF, so ‘Hashtag: Danger – Volume One: Panic On Dinosaur Mountain’ should be perfect for me. Instead, I completely bounced off it.

‘Hashtag: Danger’ follows the team of Sugar Rae Huang (the strong one), Einstein Armstrong (the brainy one) and Desiree Danger (the… blonde one?) as they undertake a series of misadventures involving yetis, super-villains and mole people. None of the 13 episodes go as you expect, with the team making wrong decisions, failing to act or succumbing to greed. However, that never really matters because each episode’s threat shifts into a joke or is discarded, with very few of the situations ever resolved, making the comic more a series of setup gags than anything with meaningful progression.

Drawn in a wholesome Archie Comics/1950s art style, the comic looks like it should be suitable for kids but is full of swearing and gore. More than that, I think it’s the relentlessly negative tone which marks this as a book for mature readers.

Here’s a sample of the humour to give an idea of whether you might enjoy it. The team receives and comments on its missions using social media, so uses ‘#Danger’ in its posts, but for no real reason one of the team convinces their logo designer to write it as Hashtag Danger, so the joke is their social media name is actually HashtagHashtag Danger.

This reflects how most of this graphic novel went for me, with head nodding and wry smiles as I thought ‘yep, that was a joke’ but few actual laughs. It might be that I just didn’t enjoy the generally mean tone and lack of chemistry between the main characters, so found it difficult to get invested and care what happens to them. For example, at no point does it explain why they formed this team or stay together, given that they all appear to hate each other. I thought the motive was profit but, once they sell an amusingly cute character to science for $250 million, they just keep going.

Perhaps ‘Hashtag: Danger’ would have worked for me if read as individual comics, giving a monthly dose of silliness, rather than a book which doesn’t start anywhere and hasn’t advanced by the end? Either way, I can only review the graphic novel as presented.

So it’s not for me, but I can see it appealing to people looking for the nihilism of ‘Rick And Morty’ mixed with the surreal, grotesque touches of ‘Ren And Stimpy’. Someone out there is going to love the overwritten narrator and amusing graphical touches, but for everyone else it’s going to be HashtagHashtag: Frustration.

Stuart Maine

November 2019

(pub: Ahoy Comics. 168 page graphic novel. Price: £15.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-99804-426-2)

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