Out this week, Fire Power has been an exciting new addition to the martial arts comics format. It has certainly been selling out! Writer Robert Kirkman and artist Chris Samnee have developed an interesting world to explore within a family unit. Its second volume dives into Owen Johnson’s life via his kids, his wife, and his secret past life. That past life is coming to get him now, though, and in this second volume that all comes to a head.
For those unaware, the first volume explores Owen Johnson’s past life. This second issue somewhat paradoxically starts with a #1 issue, but like chapters in a book, this is a good place to start. This is filled with both domestic bliss and even the average bits too. It opens on Owen Johnson’s family preparing for a barbecue. He has a young son, a daughter, and a happy marriage. Soon he’s racing his daughter to the grocery store for a few last-minute things. His daughter is determined to beat him, but with a little athletic ability, he’s able to beat her. Soon, we’re privy to awkward and quite frankly boring conversations during the barbecue. And yet, every second is completely captivating.
I was seriously laughing, smiling, and enjoying every minute of the domestic life Owen endures in this book. It’s truly what makes this book special. That’s because Kirman doesn’t let us forget these mundane moments are filled with life, from the annoying stepdad and his jokes to the sweetness of a mom who loves her child. This is further interesting thanks to Owen being an adopted son to very white parents. That dynamic is interesting and fresh and doesn’t get explored often enough.
The action kicks into gear slowly, but surely. You see Owen’s abilities in interesting ways, but rest assured the book goes into full action mode by its midpoint. Throughout this work, the action is incredibly fluid and natural. Samnee adds little details to draw the eye and inform us of movement, like when Owen tries to grab a door and a curved line helps show the door turning. Owen’s body control is also impressive thanks to how Samnee draws his poses.
Color artist Matthew Wilson helps define so much of the atmosphere and mood in this book. From choices of the color of the sky to a room there are distinct directions he goes to steer the reader. Much of the second issue takes place inside at night — not an easy thing to add dynamic range to a scene, but nails that aspect. There is a red visor on an enemy that helps draw your eye in the fight scenes and reminds us the bad guy is very bad.
Throughout this work, Kirkman and Samnee deliver key information about Owen’s past. There is a lot of pain and anguish he’s no longer part of that adds additional weight to his current life. It’s not so simple. By the end of the volume, it is quite clear where Owen’s head is at, as well as informing the kids of where he’s at too. There is a long road for him to climb, but maybe he doesn’t have to do it alone.
Rus Wooton’s letters impress in this work as well. The word balloons and text are all hand-drawn, which adds a light, airy feel to the book. Bolded shouting isn’t overly done, further making it feel natural and less obvious. The dialogue by Kirkman helps add to the light and relaxed feel too.
Fire Power is a crowning achievement of how something so simple like domestic life can be intriguing and interesting. This is a great place to start if you’re interested in a martial arts story with a familial heart. Fire Power is poignant, funny, heartfelt, and filled with adventure with a second volume that’s so strongly done it’s addictive.
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