Chance Falconer is a typical 14-year-old girl doing typical 14-year-old girl things. You know, hanging out at the mall; having slumber parties with her friends; playing with her pet miniature dragon, St. George; fighting monsters.
Okay, maybe she’s not that typical.
Chance lives in the community of Devil’s Echo and is the daughter of that town’s occult investigator, Lucas Falconer. A Falconer has always protected Devil’s Echo and Chance is ready to begin her training. But her father decides it’s not a job for a girl; he’ll wait until a grandson comes along and train him.
Chance is having none of that; and along with George, she gets involved in paranormal goings-on, sometimes deliberately, sometimes not.
Leave It To Chance was an excellent, but sadly short-lived all-ages series (with an obvious appeal to girls) by James Robinson and Paul Smith that ran for 13 issues, starting in 1996.
Chance is intelligent, resourceful and quick-witted. But she’s also headstrong, which more than once results in her father saying three little words:
“You did what?!”
In the first issue, Chance frees the dragon she’ll later name St. George from a cage because she doesn’t understand why her father has to return him to his own dimension; and she doesn’t like the fact that the process could kill the creature.
She also recognizes that the dragon is terrified, which is probably the tipping point in her decision. In issue two, George saves her life and the two become inseparable from that point on.
In the first four-issue storyline, Chance decides to prove herself by investigating a case involving a comatose shaman and his missing 7-year-old daughter, while Lucas Falconer handles an out-of-town matter. Of course, she doesn’t mention her plans. Nor does she suspect that she’ll find herself caught up in political corruption and the return of a long-banished toad god as a means of revenge against both Devil’s Echo and the Falconer family.
In addition to being intelligent, resourceful, quick-witted and headstrong, Chance is also impetuous. As she’s attacked by the one behind all the troubles, she says to herself, “oh yeah. Now I remember. I was supposed to call for backup.”
Chance helps save the city, but her father is not happy with her involvement and asks her what she was thinking.
“To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of the time to think. Not about the danger,” she replies.
Soon after, Lucas Falconer decides that maybe he’s a bad influence and sends Chance away to a boarding school. No way could she get into trouble there.
Her first night at the school, Chance uncovers a smuggling operation being led by a pirate ghost. With help from her friends, she exposes it. And in response to her father’s, “well, what do you have to say for yourself this time?”, Chance insists that she had to investigate and that he would have done the same.
He reminds her which of them is supposed to act that way and makes her promise there will be no more monsters, ghouls, magic or danger.
“Leave that sort of thing to me.”
“I will, Daddy,” she says. “I promise.” She then silently adds, “unless I can’t help myself.”
Trouble finds Chance, even when she’s not looking for it. In issue nine, the classic horror movie monsters the Pharaoh, the Count, Man-Monster and the Howler emerge from the screen of a revival movie house into the real world. Lucas Falconer is called in to investigate. As he talks to city officials in his front hall, he says, “any little girls who might be listening in… this isn’t your affair. I expect you to stay at home.”
For her part, Chance decides to do a good deed for her friend, police officer Margo Vela, and bring her some soup while she’s on a stakeout. As Vela subsequently explains to Lucas Falconer: “She was bringing me soup. The monsters attacked. One thing led to many.”
“Yes, that seems to be my daughter’s lot in life,” he replies.
In 1997, Leave It To Chance won the Harvey Award for Best New Series and the Eisner Award for both Best New Series and Best Title Aimed at a Younger Audience. Eleven issues are collected in three trade paperbacks. They (and the individual issues) are well worth keeping an eye out for at your local comic shop.
For myself, I’m sending a Leave It To Chance collection to my cousin for her 15th birthday. I’m confident she’s gonna enjoy it.
Copyright 2014 Patrick Keating.