We Are the Danger #1 is a book about music, outcasts, and friendship, which means that it has some familiar ground to tread. Fortunately, it’s a book that treads that ground quite stylishly, both in terms of form as well as in the aesthetic of its characters, its settings, and the pivotal scenes in which there is music.
In terms of form, writer/artist Fabian Lelay (Jade Street Protection Services) finds plenty of interesting (and sometimes unique) ways to disseminate the story here of a girl who changes schools during her senior year of high school, including shots of text message conversations, tracklists that reveal the mindset of characters, and key parts of said first day at a new school overlaid atop a cassette tape. Lelay’s art also uses posture to great effect, especially in the early part of the book, where two characters are having a (potentially-romantic) first interaction.
What I found most interesting within We Are the Danger #1, though, was the book’s subtle and efficient use of time, blowing expertly past all mundanity to give us key scenes of action and development. It’s an unnoticed thing for most readers, but it's also one that can bog down slice-of-life graphic storytelling, which is the category I'd put this book into. The stakes aren’t all that high here, and that’s okay—they aren’t meant to be, not yet, anyway. I have a feeling they'll start to increase as our story moves forward, and our story certainly has a stylish and engaging foundation. This first issue is a breezy read, as good introductions should be.
What’s really for sale here is the artwork and aesthetic, and Lelay reaches lofty levels of stylishness without a single scene reading as preening or too on the noise, no simple task for a book about music. Lelay’s artwork shines most, however, in scenes where music is being performed or listened to. Sound is tricky to convey on a static comic book page, but this book draws on the universality of youthful experiences with live music to create imagery capable of making one’s mind fill in the drum, the guitar, and the voices of these fast friendships. Good stuff.
Overall: This first issue builds friendships really well while also establishing a confident aesthetic tone. It’s a slice-of-life story, to be sure, and a good one at that, taking the time with emotions and relationships those books rely so heavily upon. I really appreciated how stylish this book was without ever becoming preening. It’ll be a fun one to follow. 7.5/10
We Are The Danger #1 will be available May 30, 2018.
Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.