A spoiler free review of Dash # 1-3. Story by Dave Ebersole with art by Delia Gable.
The elevator pitch for Dash reads: “The Maltese Falcon” meets “The Mummy” meets “Raiders of the Lost Ark” through the eyes of an openly gay private detective in 1940.
I have been waiting impatiently for Dash issue #3 to land and scooped it up immediately and after reading the first three issues I think this it is safe to say Dash is something special.
The titular Dash, is disgraced ex cop living in 1940s America, making ends meet with private eye work. The main thrust of the story revolves around Dash taking on an innocuous seeming case that leaves him on a murder mystery steeped in Egyptian mythology.
Dash’s identity as a gay man is central to the story without being the main thrust of it. 1940s America was hardly welcoming to homosexuals and story is quick to remind us of that. Dash throughout the first three issues regularly has to confront homophobia, violence and heteronormative assumptions.
What is particularly interesting is the story is not actually weighed down by this. Dash seemingly likes and accepts himself for who he is and while he must navigate these challenges he is not defined by them. Remarkably the story keeps a pulp / heoric tone even while still cast in these realities.
There are obviously some historical liberties being taken, to pull this particular dance off. However the balance is not only well done but refreshing. It leaves the reader with a story that doesn’t pull it’s punches without being overtly grim. It’s a harmony not often seen.
Speaking as someone who is a fan of the book’s art style the art can be occasionally a little inconsistent. Still when it hits the mark it really shines, and ive become increasingly fond of how well the coloring invokes the the decade their trying to emulate and the character designs not only appeal but reflect the era’s fashion and sensibilities well.
It has become something of an unflattering trope to label LGBTQ media as also fit for straight people. It is synonymous with such words like safe and I don’t think a fair characterization of Dash would call it that.
However it is remarkably balanced.
Dash is a depiction of a pulp hero that happens to be a gay man. It is an action adventure story which features a queer protagonist and doesn’t shy away from confronting the bigotry he must face, but it excels first and foremost at being a human story.
The one area I would like to see expounded upon more is to see Dash’s girl friday Cindy fleshed out a bit more. What we have seen of her is delightful, but we see all too few moments of her. 1940s America is a world filled with just us much patriarchy as homophobia and it would be exciting to see the creators handle that with the same deft hand.