Artist-writer Danny J. Weston brings us Dolphin Squad: Heroes of the Sea, a nautically-overloaded action adventure surrounding the eponymous ‘Dynamic Trio’ of anthropomorphic dolphins – Lazer-Eye, Vinny and Fabian – who, against all odds, have to defeat the evil scientist Dr Herbert Helfert and his brainwashed gamer army hellbent on killing the Squad.
Heroes of the Sea has a predictable “defeat-the-evil-German-scientist-villain” plot, which also borrows way too many elements from numerous superhero origin stories and famous films (which knowledgeable fans will pick up on instantly), but merging them together in the cheesy pulp-novel way makes them somewhat gel quite nicely. The absurdist nature of the overall story does take the book to some interesting (and in most cases, unusual) places; such as Lazer-Eye’s time in the Navy and the marine animal task force known as S.E.A.W.O.R.L.D., to baffling “why-is-he-in-here” characters such as “The Whaleverine”.
Furthermore, the comic doesn’t appear to have a clear audience, but I assume it’s more persuaded towards children, as most adults would grow tired and frustrated by the dialogue and near nonsensical nature of the plot. I did so with Helfert’s over-exaggerated German accent, and the fact that so much is rehashed from elsewhere that it becomes tiresome to read, despite its unique aquatic-adventure selling point.
The amount of parody, pastiche and homage throughout, with well-known brands such as Nintendo and Domino’s Pizza and other such things having amusing counterparts. Not to mention the over-the-top wordplay becoming a non-stop barrage of maritime-related puns. Some are much funnier than others, but the ploy wears thin very quickly, becoming irritable and off-putting; especially Vinny’s overt usage of said puns. That being said, other quaint oddities found throughout, including Fabian being pink/albino and only being able to communicate in Morse code do bring some nuanced comedic charm.
Weston’s sequential art is the only creative aspect that weighs an otherwise interesting comic down in mundanity. His style is basic, which is no bad thing, it’s just that it comes across as very amateurish, rushed and undistinguished; especially when compared to the effort put into rest of the comic’s overall design. The artwork comes across as if the more effort went into the concept than the execution. Also, there are instances, which is a shame to point out, where compositions and other imagery are directly plagiarised from more well-known comics (i.e a sequence copying the infamous Bane breaking Batman’s spine from Batman #497 from July 1993), which did somewhat spoil the reading experience.
However, the tragic life and death of Dolphin Squad’s “creator” Alan ‘Fishy’ Smithee, as well as the elaborate origins and “legacy” behind the Dolphin Squad mythos adds more of a reinforced authenticity behind the characters, becoming the comic’s saving grace. Moreover, the various design elements– from its end-pages, archived materials and featured “merchandise” pieces – were implemented well and tied into the overall feel of the comic. But then again, it seemed that more effort was implemented here than the rest of the comic.
Overall, Dolphin Squad: Heroes of the Sea was certainly an intriguing insight into the mind of Weston, as well as a decent introduction to the Dolphins and their established world. A so-so effort, despite some critical follies, and much needing to stand independently on its own tail fins.
Have you read Dolphin Squad: Heroes of the Sea? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a tweet!