COMIC REVIEW: Wildfire Issue#1

Real-life science stories sometimes date quickly, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t stories still to tell. Wildfire is a new comic from Image Comics, written by Top Cow publisher Matt Hawkins. Interesting. Hawkins has produced an eco-warning science fiction parable about the nature of science and the morality of scientists. The main character is Dan Miller. He’s plant biologist. He works in a small team perfecting an accelerated plant growth process. Their argument is that they want to solve world hunger. The introduction, however, shows that was well as pros to the argument, there are also cons.

The comic opens with a news journalist describing an almost apocalyptic scene as LA is completely ablaze. We then cut to a TV show 3 days earlier, where Dr Silva, a scientist and member of Dan’s team, is debating with another scientist and advocate of organic produce and ‘vocal adversary’ of genetically modified food. The debate becomes heated and Dr Silva makes a rash promise on air to defend her point. The book then shows what happens for the next few days until we get to the point before the flaming city.

It seems that Wildfire is a few years late. The GM food debate, in the UK at least, was big news several years ago. The dialogue mentions a big litigious company, so maybe Hawkins wanted to wait until there was less of a chance of this being an ‘issue’. However, the story is well told, as Silva’s position is forced. You can easily believe both the pro and con arguments put forward by Hawkins’ characters. Much of the middle section of the comic is told with people standing or sitting and lots of dialogue. Some of it is clunky and it’s full of exposition, but in this case you don’t mind as it all about scientific argument. Maybe too much for the average comic book fan, but fine from my perspective. It does mean that there are lot of big speech bubbles.

Which might have been an issue for artist Linda Sejic (Savage Tales), but she has coped well. She even uses panelling to highlight emotion – creating jagged edges for angry exchanges. Considering there’s not a lot of comic book action for the bulk of book, the art is interesting. Not a style I usually enjoy; it’s quite hard to describe. It looks computer generated but I’m not convinced it is. It looks a little like rotoscoping (as if she has traced over real images). There is definitely a cinematic influence to it, with blurred backdrops and such like. However, many of the characters (both male and female) look very similar and a tad clichéd (especially the activist who storms the stage in the showcase finale). There is an occasional issue with perspective too but not so much as to be distracting. Not at all bad if you like this kind of artwork.

Wildfire shows potential with a somewhat dated story, but it has the chops to be a proper science fiction story if it continues along the lines of issue #1.

Title: Wildfire

Publisher: Image Comics

Rating: 3.5/5

Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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