Double Jumpers, the latest graphic novel from Action Lab: Danger Zone, is a love letter to geeks. Jason, Maxine, Milo, and Andrew work for a small video game developer hard at work on their virtual reality game Dungeons Lords 2: The Darkheart Chronicles, but when an error occurs and traps them in the game, the A.I.s for their characters are transferred back into their bodies where they run amok in the modern world.
Each issue starts by showing its ending and then goes back to the beginning and tells the story until it meets with the ending again. This twist to storytelling I fell in love with. The overall story is a series of misadventures by both parties, and those endings up front provided a puzzle I happily took the time to unravel. In many ways these intros made me more excited to see how the story caught up to that point than I would be if the issue simply started at the beginning.
This book is filled with nerd references. Some are rather obvious like the classic Star Wars line, “I have a bad feeling about this,” while others are more obscure such as the involvement of a kill screen. Double Jumpers avoids going into reference overload, but like Ready Player One or Paul, I was in on the jokes and loving every reference dropped. Double Jumpers isn’t afraid to rip into the fantasy genre or video game medium either. Writer Dave Dwonch and artist Bill Blankenship are clearly in on the joke of how cookie cutter these stories and games usually are by their use of them in this tale and how the characters constantly poke fun at them.
This book looks fantastic. Blankenship outdid himself on bringing these wacky and over-the-top scenarios to life and making the fantasy world stand out despite it being closely tied to stereotypes. The comic does have some issues with consistency where certain names or figures are cited early on and altered as the issues progress. While a little sloppy, given the comic is a joyride, these secondary details are easily forgiven.
There is quite a bit of gender play in Double Jumpers, which I thought I’d address a bit. Milo and Maxine constantly bicker, because Milo is that stereotypical sexist a–hole who offends everyone he can; however, Milo finds himself the butt of his own jokes when he accidentally selects to play the game’s Smurfette, Sela the thief. Milo getting flustered by the way he programmed the NPCs to treat female characters is entertaining in a revenge sort of way, as all his fake geek girl crap is shoved back in his face. Similarly with Maxine’s body in the modern world inhabited by Mongo the barbarian and Milo’s by Sela, there is a lot of crossgender fun to be had. The genderf—ery here is played straight (heh) with Mongo in Maxine’s body behaving as the violent barbarian would, obsessed with fighting, food, ale, and women, and Sela in Milo’s body unapologetically conniving and slutty. This book doesn’t shy away from setting up seemingly gay romance scenes even though the actual participants are straight, excepting their temporary bodies. I could see the characters’ behavior offending some readers, but their actions are so over the top I was entertained more than offended. Even when matters turn a little, shall we say, queer, it didn’t feel like the creators were making fun of LGBT folks so much as having fun with the crisscrossing of genders for the sake of it and making some statements regarding how women are treated in geek culture and how gender is viewed in our society.
As another play on the gamers trapped in a game world genre, Double Jumpers is really good and a fun, solid title that had me grinning and cackling with glee throughout my read. The first three issues of Double Jumpers can be purchased over at Action Lab’s website with the collected volume of all four issues of Volume 1 to be out later on this month.