Danger Unlimited

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Danger Unlimited is a comic book series written and drawn by John Byrne. It ran only four issues, with print publication dates of March to June 1994. The series was published by Dark Horse Comics.

The only story arc of the series is called “Phoenix Agenda” and is set in 2061. The 20th century backstory is interwoven throughout the four books out of sequence via flashbacks.

In December 1959, the Carson family meets explorer Mike Worley in South America to investigate an ancient spaceship that had crashed in the Amazon jungle in the distant past. The ship's systems trap the four and expose them to "Gunk," which was supposed to adapt the ship's original crew to the new environment. They escape after brief exposure to the Gunk, but it gives each of them superpowers which they use to fight for good as the original Danger Unlimited. The members include Miss Mirage (Connie Carson), who can project illusions. Her brother Thermal (Calvin Carson) can control heat and cold. Their father, Doc Danger, a brilliant scientist who had his intellect augmented even more, continuing his mutation until he's nothing more than a giant head by 1985. And Hunk (Worley), who has rocky, superhard skin and superstrength. In 1985, the team engages in a final battle with Umbra, their most powerful foe. During Umbra's attack on DU's headquarters, Thermal is seriously injured and Doc Danger places him into a biological stasis chamber. Nobody knows what happened, but Doc Danger shuts down all systems and places the headquarters into a "timelock" time suspension force field. The team was missing and presumed dead.

75 years after the battle, the timelock disengages and the new Earth government moves in to demolish the headquarters. A sudden energy signature inside draws a military team to investigate. Calvin bursts free from the containment pod and loses consciousness. A sample of Gunk was also stored inside the pod and explodes over Corporal Teresa LaFayette. When they awake, Calvin has partial amnesia and no longer seems to have his powers. LaFayette has gained the power to become a giant spiky, rocky humanoid. Professor Davis Parmenter, who was studying what happened to the two, realizes it was Gunk at work again and smashes the sample vial of it with his hand. He is split into three identical but independent selves. It is explained to Calvin that an alien race called the Xlerii invaded Earth in 2010 and conquered all of humanity. Even all superhumans mysteriously disappeared in 2011 during the war. The ship that they investigated in 1959 was a Xlerii advance scout. After defeating the bulk of Earth's forces, the Xlerii offered Earth a deal for peace and prosperity but in reality are taking over, altering the global environment to fit their tastes. The Earth is now perpetually cloudy and dark.

Calvin and LaFayette flee to her grandmother's house in Louisiana. The three Parmenters arrive, tipped off by LaFayette's commanding officer who's also a freedom sympathizer, and convinces them to become the new Danger Unlimited. LaFayette takes on the name "Belabet," based on her grandmother's Creole exclamation of "La belle et la bete" (Beauty and the Beast) upon seeing her transform. Parmenter calls himself (himselves?) "Caucus." They plan to pursue two main missions: to find out what happened to the original Danger Unlimited and to drive the Xlerii from Earth while finding out what happened to all the superheroes.

From 1991 to 1994, John Byrne developed his own creator-owned titles at Dark Horse Comics under the Legend imprint, as did other artists and writers such as Mike Mignola and Frank Miller. In addition to Danger Unlimited, Byrne created Babe (1994), John Byrne's 2112 (1991), and John Byrne's Next Men (1992–1994) while with Dark Horse.

Danger Unlimited was intended as an ongoing series, but it ended suddenly after just four issues, due to less-than-anticipated sales brought on in part by the mid-1990s collapse of the American comic industry. Byrne himself provided insight into this collapse (or Wall Street-like “normalization”) in the letter column to issue #4, pointing out that retailers were no longer willing to take chances on new comics and that orders were therefore at unsustainably low levels.

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