Characters Appearing: Amos Culhane, Cleo Vanderlip, Dakota North, Luke Jacobson, Mad Dog (Dakota North employee), Ricky North, S.J. North
Dakota North #2-5
Issue(s): Dakota North #2, Dakota North #3, Dakota North #4, Dakota North #5
Looking for more info on Martha Thomases online (there is little, although she seems to be writing bi-monthly editorials at ComicMix, i found this page that has a short interview with her. It seems this was her first project as a writer, and the series was loosely inspired by Charlie's Angels.
I don't know what aspect of Charlie's Angels Thomases and editor Larry Hama had in mind, but this book already had a leg up on that show in that Dakota ran her own agency and didn't report to a Charlie. Coupled with a female writer and a first issue that showed Dakota to be a badass, i was looking forward to the rest of this. The series unfortunately takes a little bit of a dive with issue #2 and while things recover from there, the series never really reaches its potential, and the story drags on a bit before getting cancelled prior to its resolution. So between an unfinished story and Tony Salmons' art, which is admittedly an acquired taste albeit one that i personally have acquired, there's isn't a lot to recommend here.
My minor issues with issue #2 are Dakota's ridiculously short skirt...
...and the fact that the villain of the issue is smitten with her to the point where instead of attacking her, he forces kisses on her instead.
There is later a fun car chase sequence involving him, though.
The story for issue #2 is that a friend of Dakota's father, George Cooper, a former spy like him, has a golden pen filled with an experimental nerve gas that evil forces would like to get their hands on. Dakota is hired to protect him.
But it turns out that Cooper has actually slipped the pen to Dakota's brother, Ricky. And the evil fashion vice president, Cleo Vanderlip, is aware of that, so she sends one of her models, Daisy Kane, to seduce him and bring him to Paris.
The rest of the series has Dakota traveling to Europe to find her brother, getting into fights in the airplane bathroom...
...and in the Pomidou art museum.
Salmon's art isn't always that great looking even accounting for his odd style...
...and sometimes looks completely unfinished.
But the story is quirky enough, even having a train tunnel scene while showing Daisy seducing Ricky....
...and is self aware enough to make fun of Dakota's decidedly not-designed-for-action high heels.
It's also got some fun James Bondian stuff, like a train car secretly detaching to go on its own route...
...and a villain that attacks with a trained hawk.
Dakota manages to rescue Ricky, and the gas in the pen is accidentally used to kill the bad guys in Europe. But meanwhile, back in the US, Cleo Vanderlip shows up to threaten Dakota' father, SJ.
And that's where the series ends. Note the rather sad and abrupt "Next Issue" blurb. The lettercol still talks about the series as if it is ongoing, even soliciting opinions on Dakota's heels.
On the question of whether or not this series was intended to take place in the Marvel universe, well, George Cooper is also promoting a book that he wrote, and his book tour takes him to the David Letterman show.
And since we know that David Letterman exists in the Marvel universe thanks to Avengers #239, this series must also take place in the Marvel universe. QED.
Ok, in fact there's nothing placing this series in the Marvel universe. Dakota's father, a former operative of the "company", is later explicitly said to be former CIA agent when instead making him a former SHIELD agent could have been a way to signal Marvel universe inclusion. And then there's the fact that Ricky gets distracted by a Hulk cartoon while he, Dakota, and company are held prisoner.
I know the Marvel universe is the world outside our window, but i find it hard to believe that a rampaging monster like the Hulk is the subject of a children's cartoon played right after Bullwinkle.
Of course, none of the above says anything definitive about Dakota North's inclusion in the Marvel Universe, and the fact that she is later incorporated isn't a problem.
For completeness, i should mention that policeman Amos Culhane follows Dakota around like a lovesick puppydog, and there's also Anna, an assistant to the fashion designer Luke Jacobson that Cleo Vanderlip nominally works for, and she is a bit of a mouse.
None of that goes anywhere, and i don't think those characters ever appear outside of this series. Dakota North will appear again, however, first in single issues of Web of Spider-Man and Power Pack and then regularly in Luke Cage's series. She is, after all, the woman of the 1990s.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
References: In issue #3, it's said that the events of this series started "three weeks ago". Issues #2-5 are basically a continual story, even allowing for plane flights to Paris. But i've left issue #1 as a separate entry to account for those three weeks. This despite the fact that issue #1 seems to end with a call from Dakota's father to meet him and Dakota's "husband" (actually George Cooper; the husband thing was just a ruse) that same night. I'm assuming that meeting just got delayed. It would be equally as easy to merge issues #1-5 into a single entry since this series doesn't have any dependencies with the rest of the Marvel universe.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Hulk having a TV show is one thing, but the guy had a cereal! I think it was a Dark Reign issue of Moon Knight, but I definitely remember some book having a Hulk cereal not long after he occupied New York and nearly split it in half during World War Hulk.
Then Hulk managed to get back into the Avengers. Publically.
Posted by: Max_Spider | December 31, 2013 10:38 PM
1954: GODZILLA. Godzilla ravages Tokyo. Thousands are killed.
1971: GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH. Small Japanese child plays with Godzilla toys.
I know by that point he'd become a good guy, more-or-less, but there's a difference between hoping Godzilla defeats whatever monster is threatening the world this movie, and marketing toys of him to children, in-universe.
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 31, 2015 9:24 PM
I don't understand the constant references to Salmon's art being so odd and off-putting. Is it REALLY that bizarre? It's just not the typical Marvel House Style or something, but because it doesn't look like Sal Buscema doesn't make it as strange as everyone is saying it is.
Posted by: Wis | October 25, 2017 1:25 AM
His art is really hit and miss - the drawing of Superman here is clumsy but the pages from Savage Sword of Conan are great bits of action (the Dr. Strange and Batman pages are okay and have good layout, at least). It seems like he prefers drawing figures over faces.
Unfortunately, the DN images above mostly fall into the first category - it's one thing to be stylized and another to drawing nothing where there should be something.
Posted by: iLegion | October 25, 2017 7:44 AM
@Fnord- Should we assume that the "leg up on Charlie's Angels" statement was an unintended pun, particularly when the first two scans show off Ms. North's lengthy gams in a "ridiculously short skirt"?
Posted by: Brian Coffey | November 4, 2017 10:14 PM
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