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Comic Book / The Adventures of D & A

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The Adventures of D & A is a comic written and illustrated by Michael Patrick Duggan that ran in Disney Adventures from 1997 to 1998.

The comic follows tweens Denise Dawson and Adam Anderson as they stumble into the operations of the Secret World Saving Club (SWSC), an Ancient Order of Protectors dedicated to protecting the world against alien and supernatural threats, and become members themselves.

There were three stories total:

  • "Plan 10 from Outer Space" (August 30, 1997): The Origins Episode; Denise and Adam meet for the first time, run from some Malig-Not aliens, stumble upon the SWSC, and stop a secret invasion.
  • "Halloweenie Roast" (November 1997): While babysitting some kids on Halloween, Denise and Adam run afoul of the Darkwyne Ogre, a longtime target of the SWSC, who wants to boil the kids in a stew.
  • "The Really Really Cute Little Monster that Ate Tokyo!" (January 1998): In their first outing as SWSC Agents of Altruism — and last outing in the magazine — D & A are assigned the task of transporting to Japan to stop a cutesy lizard monster called Kitora that turns out to be a bigger problem than they originally thought.

The Adventures of D & A contains examples of the following tropes:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: One of the SWSC's Rogues Gallery is called the Ultimate Machine, a robot who believes that Earth should belong to machines.
  • Aliens Speaking English: All of the Malig-Nots speak English to the heroes and to each other, allowing Denise and Adam to overhear Prince Malevolon's plans. There's no lampshading of this, and no mention of Translator Microbes that would enable this.
  • Alliterative Name: A twofer: the eponymous pair are named Denise Dawson and Adam Anderson.
  • All There in the Manual: In Heidi MacDonald's column introducing the comic, she mentions that Adam is a fan of the Boston Red Sox, and Denise likes listening to No Doubt. This never once came up in any of the comics.
  • Ancient Order of Protectors: Captain Tim says in the third story that the SWSC has been around for centuries.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Denise and Adam are surprised by Captain Tim's reaction to Commander Maria's news about the Malig-Not invasion.
    Captain Tim: Jiminy!
    Adam: [whispering] Did he just say "jiminy"??
    Denise: [whispering] I think he did.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: Captain Tim gives Adam an "electro-wrench" full of high-intensity static electricity, and says it's meant to repair electronics. The problem with that, as anyone who's ever worked on computers will tell you, is that even a tiny amount of static electricity can and will destroy electronic devices if you're not careful.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The electro-wrench. It's meant to repair electronic devices, but as stated above it's impractical as a tool — Captain Tim even tells Adam that its static electricity might short out his Walkman — and almost useless as a weapon.
  • Black Comedy: Commander Maria's detailed description of how facing the Malig-Nots will mean certain fiery death is pretty clearly Played for Laughs.
    Commander Maria: It's quite likely that they'll incinerate all of us! But we must try to stop them!
    Captain Tim: [gulp!] Right away, Commander!
    Commander Maria: Most likely, the last thing any of us will ever see is their blazing lasers piercing burning holes through everything in sight! So get ready, Tim!
    Captain Tim: [gulp!] Uh...yeah, right away, Commander!
    Commander Maria: It's been relatively pleasant knowing you, Captain Tim. Commander Maria out!
  • Bland-Name Product: The band that Adam is listening to in the third story is called the Smashing Walnuts, a thinly-disguised version of The Smashing Pumpkins.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The rocket boots from the first story reappear and are used in the third, after Captain Tim gives them to Adam.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The holographic wrist communicators in the second story, and Adam's Walkman in the third.
  • Child Prodigy: Denise is the problem-solver of the duo. She lampshades it by calling herself "your average 12-year-old genius."
  • Company Cross References: The comic leans into the Disney corporate synergy in the second story, by having Denise dressed as Pocahontas for Halloween, and two of the Irving kids as Mickey Mouse and Hercules.
  • Compelling Voice: One of the SWSC's Rogues Gallery is called the Prattler, who can control people's minds with his voice.
  • Cut Short: The first story featuring the pair as full agents was also their last.
  • Deus ex Machina: Denise, Adam, and Mecha-Mole are beamed out of the Malig-Not hideout by Captain Tim, who had returned because the SWSC pretty quickly figured out that the Himalayan invasion was a ruse.
  • Drama Queen: Commander Maria in the first story, as she tells Captain Tim that the SWSC repelling the invading Malig-Not fleet is going to mean certain death. Tim explains to Denise and Adam that Maria tends to be dramatic, but he still looks incredibly shaken.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Denise and Adam's SWSC uniforms, as well as Adam's electro-wrench, are first shown in Heidi MacDonald's column introducing the comic (as seen in the page image above). They wouldn't appear in the comic proper until the third (and final) story.
  • Everytown, America: Denise and Adam live in a town called Walden Oaks in an unspecified American state.
  • Exposition Dump: The third story includes Captain Tim and Commander Maria going over the SWSC's Rogues Gallery in detail, before being sidetracked by the Kitora situation.
  • Fad Super: The comic came about at a time when stories of the paranormal (such as on The X-Files), or of kids and/or secret organizations involved in secret conflicts with aliens (such as in Animorphs or Men in Black) were popular.
  • Fantastic Rank System: The SWSC. Denise and Adam start off as provisional members before becoming Agents of Altruism, Tim and Mecha-Mole are Captains of Decency, and Maria appears to be in a leadership role as a Commander of Charisma.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Denise and Adam are so distracted by their new SWSC holographic wrist communicators that they fail to notice the Irving kids being kidnapped by the Darkwyne Ogre.
  • Free-Range Children: To the extent that they first meet each other in the woods where Denise is enjoying a casual stroll by herself, and where Adam says his brother Sam "and his creepy friends" hang out. Eventually exaggerated in the third story where D & A are sent to Tokyo. The comic never even introduces the duo's respective parents; Adam talks briefly about his parents, but Denise's parents aren't even mentioned.
    • Somewhat justified with the Irving kids in the second story, as Denise reminds Adam that they're helping Mrs. Irving out by babysitting while she's visiting a sick friend.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Denise and Adam meet in the first story, and shortly after get caught up in the plot with the Malig-Nots and Prince Malevolon. By the second story they seem to be best friends.
  • Flight: Denise and Adam are both capable of this by the third story; Denise can fly with help from her transgravitational umbrella, and Adam can fly with his rocket boots.
  • The Ghost:
    • The entire rest of the SWSC, which is particularly egregious because they're supposed to be this huge international organization. The only members we meet (besides Denise and Adam) are Tim, Maria, Mecha-Mole, and Mecha-Moth.
    • We never meet Adam's brother Sam, who Adam is waiting to ambush in the first story.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: As explained in the Exposition Dump, Doctor Feral was transformed into a "hideous man-beast" that appears to be a rat-human hybrid.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: A recurring theme is how Denise and Adam are unable to figure out the SWSC gadgets at first, although they quickly figure them out on the fly.
    Denise: Adam! Wait! You know how to use your jet boots! But I haven't figured out — blasted stupid umbrella!
    Mecha-Moth: I don't think that smacking it on a rock is the official SWSC method...
  • Human Disguise: Despite Denise saying she sees Mrs. Darkwyne at her grandfather's general store all the time, Adam claims that Mrs. Darkwyne transforms into the Darkwyne Ogre at night. Turns out he's right.
  • Iconic Item: Denise always carries an umbrella. Captain Tim notices this and gives her a "transgravitational umbrella" in the third story that allows her to fly.
    Captain Tim: Say, you never told me why you like umbrellas so much.
    Denise: Well, just in case it rains. You never know. Besides, it looks very cool.
  • Idiot Ball: Tim and Maria carry it in the third story. The plot happens because the Tokyo SWSC didn't keep a photo of one of their major threats on file, and had to fall back on an "artistic interpretation" when sending out a distress call. Tim and Maria then pooh-pooh Mecha-Moth's warnings as dramatics, and instead send two 12-year-old children to deal with the threat.
  • Indy Ploy: Basically how D & A solve anything. They defeat the Malig-Nots by haphazardly transporting themselves into the Malig-Not hideout and smashing their transporter, they defeat the Darkwyne Ogre by distracting her with a hologram of Mecha-Mole and dumping garlic into her witch's brew, and they stop Kitora's rampage by haphazardly figuring out their new gadgets on the fly and distracting him with Adam's Walkman.
  • Kaiju: Kitora is a Kaiju from a place called Monsterland Island.
  • Kid Hero: Denise and Adam in every story; they stop an alien invasion, save some younger kids from an ogre that wants to eat them, and save Tokyo from a giant lizard monster.
  • Kirby Dots: Seen floating around the electro-wrench when Captain Tim hands it to Adam.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Adam's preferred method of attack in each story:
    • Adam distracts Prince Malevolon and the Malig-Nots by activating some SWSC rocket boots and blasting straight into their hideout.
    • When he sees the Darkwyne Ogre kidnapping the Irving kids, he charges at her — only to get caught himself.
    • When they stumble upon Kitora attacking Tokyo, Adam's first impulse is to activate the rocket boots and attack Kitora with the electro-wrench.
  • Magic Versus Science: Subverted when Denise faces off against the Darkwyne Ogre. When Denise says her "magic" (which turns out to be a hologram of Mecha-Mole) is more powerful than the ogre's, the ogre says, "I don't use magic. I use a complex scientific discipline which is related to the earliest alchemies of the world!"
  • No-Sell: Adam's attack with the electro-wrench doesn't work on Kitora. Justified in that Captain Tim had previously told Adam that the wrench's static electricity wouldn't hurt anyone, but at worst only stun or annoy them.
  • Not So Above It All: Denise is initially put off by Adam throwing an open-faced jelly sandwich at her, but she quickly offers to help him prank his brother.
  • Parasol Parachute: Inverted. Captain Tim gives Denise a "transgravitational umbrella" that allows her to fly a la Stargirl.
  • Percussive Shutdown: Denise can't read the Malig-Not transporter, so she forcefully shuts it down with a nearby rock.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Aside from Captain Tim pressing a button to have two Malig-Not mooks dumped down a garbage chute, then rushing away to deal with the Malig-Not ruse in the Himalayas, we don't see him or Commander Maria actually do anything to fight the SWSC's villains. Mecha-Mole and Mecha-Moth don't do a whole lot either, but Mecha-Mole at least provides tactical warnings to Denise and Adam, and plays a small role in distracting the Darkwyne Ogre, and Mecha-Moth stays behind on Monsterland Island to help Kitora keep fresh batteries in the Walkman.
  • Platonic Boy/Girl Heroes: Denise and Adam.
  • Plot Hole:
    • It's not explained why the SWSC couldn't just detain the Darkwyne Ogre prior to D & A's interference, especially since they know where her house is.
    • It's also not explained why the SWSC doesn't already have an outpost at Monsterland Island if Kitora is known threat. For that matter, it also doesn't explain why the Tokyo base doesn't have a photo of Kitora available and had to fall back on an "artistic rendering."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Adam is red (he's a lighthearted jokester, and more than willing to blindly fly in guns blazing than come up with a plan), and Denise is blue (she's brainy and methodical, and more likely to come up with a solution to a problem after examining the situation fully).
  • Right Under Their Noses: Despite setting up a fake invasion in the Himalayas as a distraction, the Malig-Not base is actually several hundred feet below the Walden Oaks SWSC base. Somehow, Tim doesn't immediately pick up on this possibility after seeing the two Malig-Nots chasing Denise and Adam.
  • Robot Buddy: Mecha-Mole helps Denise and Adam in their first two adventures. The third story introduces Mecha-Moth, the assistant at the Tokyo SWSC base.
  • Robot Master: One of the SWSC's Rogues Gallery is the Dollmaker, an evil inventor "who hopes to usurp goodness with an army of androids."
  • Rogues Gallery: As presented in the third story, the SWSC's villains include Prince Malevolon, the Darkwyne Ogre, Doctor Feral, the Ultimate Machine, the Dollmaker, and the Prattler.
  • Rule of Cool: One of the reasons Denise says she always carries an umbrella.
  • Saved for the Sequel: Doctor Feral, the Ultimate Machine, the Dollmaker, and the Prattler were ostensibly to be used in future stories, but this ultimately didn't happen.
  • Secret Handshake: Each SWSC rank has its own. For Agents of Altruism, you bring your hands around so they clap one another, do a gentle fist bump, shake hands, smile, and say, "Greetings and salutations, fellow agent!" Adam quickly points out how ridiculous this is, but Captain Tim insists it's for security reasons.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Adam thinks Denise is this when they first meet and she uses the word "sibling" instead of "brother," and "extraterrestrial" instead of "alien." He briefly calls her "Scientist Girl" because of it.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Adam and Sam. Adam actually meets Denise because he's waiting to ambush his brother with grape jelly, in retaliation for Sam blaming Adam for tracking mud in the house.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • The elderly woman with the ionic blaster in the gag at the end of the first story.
    • The Darkwyne Ogre sports one for most of the second story.
  • Super-Deformed: Almost parodied; the SWSC branch in Tokyo sends Captain Tim a chibi artistic rendering of Kitora. Tim doesn't see it as a threat, and Commander Maria suggests it'd be a good training opportunity for D & A. Except when they get to Tokyo, they find out that Kitora is a full Kaiju and looks nothing like the artistic rendering that Mecha-Moth sent.
  • We Will Meet Again: The Darkwyne Ogre to D & A, after Adam causes her brew to explode.
    Darkwyne Ogre: You haven't seen the last of me, you little meddlers! I'll be back!!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The comic never resolves the conflict that Adam had with his brother at the start of the first story.
    • It also never reveals how or if the SWSC deals with Prince Malevolon's secret Malig-Not base. All we know is that Denise and Adam stop Prince Malevolon from receiving new weapons, right before the duo is beamed out by Captain Tim.
  • Wrench Whack: A variation: Adam uses the electro-wrench as an improvised Taser to attack Kitora. It doesn't work.