Sunday, May 12, 2024

When Fate turns ugly

 One of the most interesting things DC Comics created in recent years was the limited series, "Danger Street." This unique series of 13 issues repurposed the "First Issue Specials" of the 70's into a single epic adventure starring every character to have appeared in those old post-silver age comics.

OK, maybe a little background? DC Comics has a long history of using a single comic book title to introduce new characters and concepts in two or three issues, like "Showcase" which introduced the silver age Flash, Green Lantern, and Justice League. Think of it as a try-out book. The point of these books was never to create a single storyline or set of characters that overlapped, but rather to test the waters to see if a new character or set of characters would be viable.

Oh, and 'First Issue' was a marketing ploy intended to boost sales. the first issue of any successful comic (like Action Comics) would be 'collectable' and therefore it would be valuable.

So, 'Danger Street' culls those 13 issues of unconnected characters, concepts and settings and weaves them into a dramatic tale that is both cosmic and street-level. Established characters like Metamorpho and Dr Fate are now lumped in with 'Lady Cop' (Tom King actually does a great job of handling this misogynistic moniker), the Green Team, and the Dingbats. Mr King also modernizes the character concepts in ways that might not hold perfectly true to the characters we remember or to their ethos, but he does it in a way that invites the reader to more fully relate to the characters and to understand their relationships.


One of the most poignant story threads concerns the re-tooled origin of two groups of children, the outsiders (not Batman's team) and the Green Team. In Danger Street, the two groups were originally all neighbors who played together. Until a shadowy figure appears. Yeah, bad things always follow the shadowy person. In this case, the shadowy figure uses Doctor Fate's helmet to make half the kids insanely rich and the others become physically deformed and forced into a pariah's existence.

The dividing line between who gets power and who loses power? A simple child's game of who can avoid stepping on the cracks in the asphalt court. Pretty arbitrary, right? I think that's the point. Fate seems to arbitrarily choose who will be powerful and who will be hated. Christians just substitute God for Fate, and there you are...a theology wholly unacceptable to those who adhere to fair play and equality. Maybe even a theology of Calvinism.

So, I really don't like the idea that God somehow blesses some folks based on an arbitrary system known only to Him, but then, I'm not enough like God to really understand much of what's going on here. Like our story, some folks do seem to get a head start. I did grow up with educated parents who had books in the house that they rewarded me for reading. My skin color and neighborhood also contributed to providing me a 'head start' on the road of life. Some of friends had none of those advantages and still caught up to me or even passed me. That doesn't make it fair though, does it?

While I embrace the idea that God is still working and inviting us into that work, I understand that this provides no comfort to those who really suffer from unfair treatment, like having their land stolen or being taken into slavery, or watching their children die. Sure, this is all part of a 'bigger plan' and God DOES know what HE's doing, but right now, we just live in a broken, fallen world and sometimes it's just hard.

Sarah Bessey posits that our involvement... stop this kind of suffering is the way we continue the work Jesus Christ began. Anyone remember the rich young ruler who went away sad because Jesus asked the ruler to sell that he had and give it to the poor (Matt 19:12)?

May we be kind in a world that is hurtful. May be we each strive to sit with the bereaved, feed the hungry and let the broken world see God's redemptive plan in our lives. May we show the gospel of sacrifice rather than just speak it (James 2). 

Danger Street
DC COMICS INC, 2022-2023

PENCILS: Jorge Fornés
INKS: Jorge Fornés
COVER BY:Jorge Fornés

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