Remember back in the 80s when everybody enjoyed the Japanese animation adventures of those two sexy trouble-shooting agents who seemed to cause more problems than they solved?
Yes, the 1985 Sunrise television series "Dirty Pair" captured the hearts of lonely anime nerds around the world, and even though its initial television run wasn't a big success, the characters proved... wait, we aren't talking about the Dirty Pair? We're talking about yet another American comic book imitation? Really?
Yes, really. Really and for true. This project was at one point titled "Abundi", whatever that means, and was workshopped through an anime club fanzine, which as I recall wasn't too impressed. At some point the comic got re-titled "The Dead Heat," which means that we now have a Dirty Pair ripoff comic with the name of a Treat Williams / Joe Piscopo zombie cop movie.
What can I say, the 1980s were a strange time.
So let's begin with our exciting sexy future cop adventure, shall we? No? You'd rather watch a grotesquely muscular Joe Piscopo? I don't blame you.
Here in the far flung future New Tokyo City, the neon and concrete of Shinjuku has been replaced with quaint East Village neighborhood brownstones. It's all part of the wacky retro fashon that swept New Tokyo in 1996. This is also why we have dial telephones. It's the future!
NEWS UPDATE: A sudden explosion in Shinjuku near the "Manga" store has caused passersby to holler "baka yero!" We assume this is some sort of mispelled Japanese phrase that is not at all the kind of thing somebody would exclaim while witnessing an explosion! THIS HAS BEEN A NEWS UPDATE.
What's that, caption? It's still 1996 and we're still in New Tokyo City, which helpfully has done away with any sort of recognizable Tokyo landmarks and replaced them with generic buildings? Come again? You're saying photo reference is hard? You can have an entire comic book ripping off the Dirty Pair, but you can't find a photo of Tokyo? All right then. Fine. Be that way. Let's just have some exposition.
We've seen the dark-haired, demure, professional type character, and now it's time to introduce the red haired outgoing type character! Who goes to restaurants naked, apparently! This must be one of those no-pants shabu-shabu places I've heard so much about. I'm still waiting to be introduced to the trenchcoat-glasses guy from the cover... I'm sure he'll be around shortly.
The great part about working on a cartoon-based comic is that you can just do whatever the hell you want in terms of layout or composition or storytelling or head size. It doesn't matter, because cartoons!
Here we see top law enforcement professionals who wave their comical future-guns around and plan to surprise their bosses by bursting into rooms pointing guns and hollering. Why not try that down at your local police station sometime?
Why it's my boss and what appears to be Kung-Fu Waiter. No wonder she's really surprised and there's a dragonfly flying past her head!
See, the whole dragonfly thing is, or was, for about ten minutes, cartoon shorthand for "stunned surprise", seen largely in the works of Tsukasa Hojo, who created the popular manga series "Cat's Eye" and "Cityhunter".
It works particularly well when combined with the "so stunned we fall down and only our feet stick up" reaction shot. Unfortunately this is all the Hojo you're going to get here. Back to "Dead Heat".
Hey! Turns out this waiter is Eagle, star of his own fake-anime series of fake martial arts comics published by a variety of now-defunct comic companies during the go-go 1980s days of the black and white boom! Just what this comic book needed to give it that extra added punch of complete irrelevance.
Here in the Exposition Room we find out that the person behind the bombings, the stabbings, and the drownings is a drug-addicted martial arts expert who mastered the mysterious Oriental martial arts of "explosive-fu" and "drowning-jitsu" and "crackpipe-kwan-do."
And here in the locker room we get to see the girls change clothes. Here's a handy tip for cartoonists - if your characters are in a room with a lot of tall vertical elements, like, say, lockers, why not make your comic page panels the same exact size and shape as the lockers? That'll help to really confuse and disorient the reader.
Turns out the thing in the vertical panels was a freakish lizard with a human head, which is also helping to confuse and disorient the readers.
Now I know that SOME comics would just be BORING and have a character's dialog balloons actually, you know, NEXT TO THE CHARACTER SPEAKING, but that's BORING! There's plenty of room in the panel, just throw those balloons anywhere! In fact put them next to different characters! Remember, it's all about disorienting the readers.
Also, plants are a security nightmare! Bet you didn't know that.
Now this panel - this panel is just somebody going WAY OUT OF THEIR WAY to screw with us, dialog balloon-wise. Also I'm getting increasingly worried about these security nightmare plants. They're everywhere!
This fascinating discussion is revealing so much - that the dead guy with the junkie kung fu daughter actually didn't have any children, and that these security professionals are standing around talking instead of protecting their client, who is in danger of being assassinated at any... whoops.
You really can't blame them for failing to protect Doctor Gardener here. After all, their faces are weirdly flat; their depth perception HAS to be messed up.
You should know that if you're chasing a drug-addled martial arts assassin who uses the funny fork thing popularized by Elektra in Frank Miller's "Daredevil" that you are probably going to be whacked in the back of the skull by the blunt end of one of those funny fork things, just like it happened in Frank Miller's "Daredevil". Then you'll star in a really bad movie based on Elektra from Frank Miller's "Daredevil" and marry Ben Affleck, who is now going to play Batman, as seen in Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns". And thus the circle of life continues.
"Someday you might grow to be like me... instead of being a ripoff of Kei from "The Dirty Pair", you'll be a ripoff of Elektra from "Daredevil!"
Then she turns into a ghost and flies away, apparently. And then the universe around us collapsed into nothingness except for a triangle of speed lines. What was that about drug addiction you said earlier?
And here's where the hallucinogens really kick in and their boss's head gets all huge while he yells at them. Because it's funny when they do it on "Urusei Yatsura", right? So it'll be funny here. Case closed!
This may be the end of Chapter One, but the adventure continues in The Dead Heat #2, I assume, and... wait, no it won't; this was the only outing for Rhea and Nan, the Soiled Two, who would thenceforth vanish into the hazy memories of anime nerds and the $1 longboxes of comic book shops across North America.
The sad part is that I'm still confused and bewildered about exactly who the WCPA is and their relationship to the WPA and why sometimes they're called the CPA and who that glasses-trenchcoat guy on the cover is. What this comic book really needed was a helpful introduction.
Oh, here's that introductory backstory material - on the back cover, literally the LEAST helpful place it could go. Thanks, I think. And now, Dead Heat, take your ripoff characters and your inexplicable title and your confusing storytelling and your cameos by forgotten 80s B&W boom characters and get back in the casket and stay dead. Joe Piscopo you ain't.
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