The Blue Flame kicked off last month with a contemplative and intriguing take on superheroes in its first issue. Blending a cosmic-level superhero story with a grounded vigilante story, Christopher Cantwell and Adam Gorham have introduced readers to a mysterious narrative the reader and protagonist are trying to piece together. The Blue Flame #2 is out this week and sheds light on what may really be going on while revealing how Earth’s very existence may be wiped out very soon.
This issue opens with Dee the morning after she finds out she’s pregnant. We barely know her at this point in the story, but the creative team draws you into her human experience. Part of the draw to this series is how you need to piece things together naturally as the story goes on. How Dee ties into Blue Flame’s story is explained, but before that is revealed the narrative focuses on the horror and reaction of regular people after a mass shooting. This thoroughly grounds the story in a relatable place and it serves as a reminder of how harrowing and awful humans can be to each other.
After key information is detailed about the fate of the heroes, we cut to the Blue Flame off-world. He’s being held in a cell by an alien race that is judging whether humanity should be wiped out to protect the rest of the universe. He doesn’t understand why he was chosen. As he learns more about other alien races, and eventually how much of humanity’s history is written down, we begin to understand how difficult it might be to argue humans should be allowed to live at all.
If you were frustrated with the last issue’s lack of answers, know that these stories come together in a compelling way here. Cantwell and Gorham are doing a good job keeping both stories relevant and interesting while not giving us enough to know the full truth. It’s hard to detail explicitly without giving things away, but know that both stories help inform one another. Whether or not one reality is real almost doesn’t matter given the deeper purpose of this story.
Gorham does a good job on art by making the alien scenes extraordinary and large. Meanwhile, the scenes on Earth are grounded and seem to focus on human emotion. Despondency, shock, and anxiety are read loud and clear on these characters’ faces. You feel for them and through their emotions, you are reminded how awful gun violence is on its victims and those they love. When the story flips off-world, the first full-page splash introing this portion of the story is atmospheric as hell and very well drawn by Gorham. There are moments though where the art looks a bit too simplistic, which took me out of the story.
Kurt Michael Russell’s colors use cooler tones in the sorrowful scenes and some interesting harsher reds when the story flips back to the Blue Flame off-world. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s letters have a slight edge to them further putting the reader on edge. Pay close attention to word balloons which always have something going on to help inform the reader who is speaking.
The Blue Flame is building a case as a series with a dark message about humanity that’s worth a look. Whether it ends positively or in a dark place remains to be seen, but it’s compelling how the story is framed and drawn elevating this beyond just another superhero story. The Blue Flame hasn’t reached a fatalistic place yet, but its probing of humanity’s moral value is bold and frightening.
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