New Talent Showcase #2 (Danger Dungeon)
By – Gary Kwapisz
Letters – Duncan Andrews
Colors – Helen Vesik
Edits – Marv Wolfman & Ernie Colon
It’s time for this issue’s “one-off”. Prepare for something… kinda weird.
We open with little Toddie Hunter dozing off in old lady Gallstone’s math class. She attempts to wake him by asking somethin’ bout square roots. When that doesn’t work, she just shouts that it’s lunch time. That happens to work. Wonk wonk. Now awake, poor Toddie gets a mouthful from the ol’ bitty. To which he, uh… burps in her face? She goes back to her lecture, and our boy goes back into Day Dreamin’ Davy mode. You ever play that game? It really wasn’t very good. Definitely one that you’d regret renting if you intended to spend your entire weekend playing it.
So yeah, Toddie winds up back in his fantasy world… and happens to fall smack dab onto some dude. Well, not just any dude, he falls down on the “Feep” who was on his way to battle a troll. Some other goofballs (and a sword from the lower east side) are absolutely aghast at the situation… since, with the Feep out of commission, they ain’t ever gettin’ their gold back.
The short of it is… these folks need their gold back, and they’re going to try and convince Toddie to be their new champion. It’s really all we’re getting for the next page or two. Kwapisz manages to squeeze in a joke about how ugly Ronald Reagan is, so I’m sure he got a bunch of high-fives around the office… or, maybe it was just a way to ingratiate himself as a “New Talent” into the DC office culture? Who knows. Anyhoo, we get a good look at this Titan Troll, and… yeah, he looks like a pretty mean customer.
Toddie, however, ain’t exactly feelin’ it. He’s all “thanks but no thanks”, and goes to leave. That is, until the witch (yeah, this motley group has a witch), “poofs” up a woman in a bikini… who, lemme tell ya, is all over our boy Tod. The kid is quite excited… and, it’s now I wanna remind you that his body is actually in Math class right now. That could lead to a rather uncomfortable situation, no? Oh well, at least this arousal-ruse (arusal?) gets Tod on board with fighting the troll.
And so, before we know it, he and that wise-guy sword are stood right before the Big Bad. Tod’s shakin’ in his boots, but the sword decides to take a big ol’ bite outta the Troll’s toe.
Tod hightails it outta there… with the Troll giving chase. He runs all the way back to the goofball “base”, or wherever those dopey characters hang out. This is rather a dumb move, because… as mentioned, the Troll is only a few steps behind. Tod is directed to a picture of the “ugly” President of the United States (there’s another round of high-fives for ya, Gar! I think a Mister Englehart is first in line!). Behind the portrait is a Thermo-Neutron Grenade. What luck!
Tod lobs the pineapple into the crowd of trolls… makin’ em all “ka-pow” real good.
The geeks celebrate their victory… and the fake lady in the bikini plants a kiss on Todd’s cheek. He responds by, well, kissing back. The thing of it is, however, that he’s actually kissing the ol’ battleaxe, Ms. Gallstone! This little bit of sexual assault hilarity leads to our boy Tod being dragged into the Principal’s office. Wonk wonk wonnnnnk.
Yeah… didn’t much care for this.
Something about this art style really turns me off… can’t really say what it is. I mean, technically, it looks really good… it’s just not for me. It reminds me a bit of Phil Foglio’s work… which, again, isn’t bad… it’s just not up my alley. It feels sort of like something out of a Saturday Morning cartoon… but not one of the “premium” cartoons, if you get what I’m trying to say? This would be the “time-filler” show at 11:30am, to lead into Soul Train or whatever.
As a story? Ehh. I feel like they had the ending in mind, and wrote to it. We needed Toddie to kiss the ol’ bag… and so, that’s what was written to. Probably not something we’re supposed to think all that hard about… but, I gotta wonder if a few moments before the kiss, if Tod might’ve been chewing on a classmate’s toe. Hell, that probably would’ve made for a funnier scene. Much funnier than the “That Reagan is soooo ugly…” (how ugly is he?) stuff that was shoehorned in.
We get to meet Mr. Gary Kwapisz today. He started his professional art career back in the late 70’s/early 80’s drawing for The Comics Journal. Oddly enough, just yesterday I came across some of his work in an old issue I found. I tell ya, it looks quite a bit different than what we get here. While today’s piece wasn’t really the kind of art that I like, I can’t deny that it illustrates just how versatile and talented an artist Kwapisz is. He would also provide art for Marvel’s MAD-alike, Crazy Magazine.
He didn’t do much for DC Comics. Outside of this, he would work on a few issues of Hawkworld… and, a story we covered here last Christmas, the B’wana Beast story from DC Holiday Special ’09! Across the street at Marvel, Gary did a whoooole lotta work on the Conan family of titles (also Moon Knight and Punisher)… but sorta stepped away from the mainstream around the time of the speculator boom.
Anyhoo… yeah, didn’t dig this… though, that’s likely more an indictment on my personal tastes… I could definitely see others liking it.
Tomorrow: Finally Forever Amber