Fire Power is a series well worth investing in, and it’s easy enough to pick up, with the first two volumes collecting the story so far. That said, this issue picks up from the last in the most exciting place possible and it’s also the most exciting opening to a comic this year. Owen Johnson is a great fighter and has the ability to shoot fire from his hands, but can he dodge death after flinging himself from an airplane? Yep, this issue starts with a free-fall fight between Owen and a very angry assassin.
In fact, a lot of this issue is devoted to the free-fall fight scene. And that’s okay, due to Chris Samnee’s excellent art and Matt Wilson’s colors. Thanks to some well-timed blows like Owen using his fire power to push the enemy away, there’s great tension in immediate attacks and then more falling. It’s like danger on top of danger raising the stakes with each attack. Usually when comics spend so much time on the action, it hurts the overall pace and feels like filler, but that’s not the case here.
Though it is night, Wilson uses blue hues in the clouds to separate Owen and his enemy from the emptiness of their freefall. Pay close attention to Samnee’s use of panel shapes and sizes to see how your eye is drawn, like when Owen is looking down and seeing emptiness as he falls with long angular panels, or a slashing semi-horizontal panel breaking up three panels from left to right above and below it to enhance each attack. Not a word is said in these first twelve pages, but it’s unnecessary to have them thanks to how this scene flows.
From there, Kirkman continues to explore the past Owen has moved on from with his family, but now his family is right there with him to relive it. In a key scene between Owen and his wife, we get to see a very real reaction she’s having that helps us relate to her. Simultaneously, she can’t blame Owen for his past life, while seeing how it’s affecting them all and putting everyone in danger. The scene seems to suggest Owen may have learned how to fight in this old world and started a family later, but he learned something from his family too and must stop being so reckless. He has something to fight for now that goes beyond himself.
This issue also brings in a key sticking point between Owen and his wife that leaves the book on a heck of a cliffhanger. How this affects the family will be interesting, not to mention how Owen might react. This series has also done well to peel back the curtain on an ancient kung-fu society while not stuffing it down our throats. That continues in this issue, which is aided by Owen and his family not necessarily wanting to be there. And yet, Samnee and Wilson add so much richness to the environments that make them feel magical and well worth exploring. It’s like a good tease for the reader to want more.
All in all, this issue delivers big time, with all-out action to start, and then finishing things off with more worldbuilding and character work. A balance is usually preferred, but you can’t deny how awesome a free-fall fight scene from an airplane is. Acts of extreme risk pay off as Fire Power blends audacious action sequences with heartfelt character moments.
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