Fire Power is likely the best martial arts comic on the stands today. The fighting is on point, the villains are colorful and creative, and the narrative expertly taps into the deeply human situation of its main character. A man living in America with a mysterious past, a fist that can punch with fire, and a family that loves him has had everything thrown in disarray. The second story arc is over and now it’s time for act three–the trade paperback for volume 2 is available in comic shops today–with Fire Power #7. Owen Johnson and his family are still reeling from a near-death experience, but what do they do now?
This issue opens on a quiet moment on a roof as Owen watches the sunrise. Drawn by Chris Samnee, the pacing is perfect and the colors warm and hopeful by Matt Wilson. Owen knows he’s put his family in danger and this issue is about that guilt he feels and how his family is responding to it. Given how wholesome Samnee and writer Robert Kirkman have made this family, it’s fun to read this and know the complexity of emotions runs the gamut. You have Owen’s stepdad who is cheery and gets through the stress with pancakes. Owen’s kids are frustrated and understandably confused while his wife is concerned about Owen more than anything else. Exploring these emotions is a big reason why this issue works.
This book also cuts away to some action, because why the hell not. The last volume ended on a cliffhanger that is immediately addressed in this issue. That’s a relief from a storytelling perspective. Wei Lun is in bad shape after getting stabbed in the heart, but rival clans and a trusty helper make his escape daring and exciting. It all comes to crashing into an interesting conclusion that should lead this latest arc into a territory that’ll pay off on the bigger questions hanging over the narrative.
This issue also cuts away to key characters who will play a part down the line. Essentially, it’s using cutaways to remind us of characters who may not be able to stand up straight, but they will remember how they were beaten and come back even stronger. That’s exciting.
The color does a lot of the work to create a sense of calm. The sunrise is a natural choice to bring in warm oranges and purples which add a sense of contemplation to Owen’s conversations with his kids. It also gives the reader a sense that we can stay calm too, knowing a sneak attack isn’t in the cards.
Fire Power opens its next story arc with a heavy dose of real-life domestic drama. Owen has put his family into a bad position and it’s time for him to fess up to his family and make things right. Seeing how Owen reacts to the dangers of yesterday while interacting with his dad is interesting if you’re into melodrama. Fire Power is a deeply real and adult take on a martial arts world with stunning and measured art to go with it.
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