The Dare! Detectives
Casebook No. 1: The Snow-Pea Plot
Story and Art by Ben Caldwell
Additional Colors and Inks by Bill Halliar and Mike Mucci
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Cover Price: $24.95
The Dare! Detectives are a trio of ‘defective detectives’ operating out of Enderby City. Maria is a tattooed ‘bad girl’ with a chip on her shoulder, Toby is a dim-witted strongman, and Jojo is a bunny with an attitude. When the story begins, they’re chasing notorious criminal Furious George, a very bad monkey. The chase does not end well, and they end up having their detective license suspended. While sitting at their landlord Uncle Chan’s restaurant trying to figure out a way to pay the rent, they stumble upon a new criminal operation led by the Madame Bleu and and her angry panda bears. Uncle Chan is kidnapped, Madame Bleu and her pandas escape, and the Dare! Detectives are on the case again.
The three detectives are very interesting characters. Maria is a tough girl who peppers her language with bits of Spanish. In several stories, a character like her would be a sidekick. In Caldwell’s story, however, she is clearly the leader of the team. Toby is not the brightest star in the sky, but he has a good heart and he tries hard. Caldwell’s knack for great dialogue prevents him from being your typical dumb, strong character. Jojo is the anti-“cute and cuddly” bunny character. He’s selfish, rude, and cowardly, but he does seem to care about the other members of his team. The banter and group dynamic between these three character make this comic very entertaining. Caldwell’s art style is also very cartoony. The combination of his art style and snappy dialogue and pacing make this feel like an adaptation of a cartoon. Truthfully, I almost wish it were a cartoon. For some reason, I could see 30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer as the voice of Toby. Madame Bleu is also a great femme fatale whose look seems to be inspired by classic villainesses in pulp adventures and vintage comic strips. Enderby City itself is also interesting. There are flying vehicles, vintage cars, and humans and talking animals living side by side without anyone noticing. The mash-up of periods and characters give the comic a distinctive visual identity.
The Dare! Detectives is a fun romp with three very unique and flawed yet likable characters. Ben Caldwell’s apparent love for these characters and their world and his attention to detail will draw you in. I really enjoyed this comic and look forward to visiting Enderby City again in the near future.