Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Firestar (One Shot)

It's been some time since Firestar enjoyed a taste of the limelight. Whether she's been running with the Hellfire Club, the New Warriors, Spider-Man and Iceman or the Avengers, it seems like she's always been an extra: seen but not heard. That's something of a shame, because her personal story is surprisingly deep and fleshed out.

Under writer Sean McKeever's hand, Firestar's tough luck takes center stage, shifting her from an also-ran that most readers remember as one of Spidey's Amazing Friends into a sympathetic figure who stares down terrible personal adversity every day. Like most heroes with a secret identity, she juggles an active private life with regular costumed patrols – but her powers, for all the good they're doing, are also slowly killing her. Having never developed immunity to the microwaves that drive her abilities, she's developed a cancer that saps her strength and willpower each day. It's a tragic turn for a character that's usually so cheery and upbeat.

Despite being handed such a complicated, multifaceted situation, McKeever never takes it anywhere. Cassie's struggles with her identity and the effect it's having on her health are the focal point of the story, but she finds no solutions or personal breakthroughs this month. Really, we're just watching her deal with the situation day-to-day and eavesdropping on her depressing social life. She feels uncertain about her place in the world, and despite the assurances of her friends and family the readers don't get any reason to believe she's wrong for doubting herself. Is it worth literally killing yourself to stop a couple joyriding teens or pull a few cats out of trees for old ladies? Most one-shots don't waste a lot of time in getting right to the meat of the subject, but Firestar seems content standing perfectly still and mumbling to itself.

Artist Emma Rios brings an extremely minimal style to the table, one that had me immediately comparing her work to that of the Luna Brothers. Each renders their characters with smooth, uninterrupted lines and very little elaboration. The method isn't without its fans, but I can't say I'm among them. It feels awkward, like there's a certain invariable that's been stripped away, crucial to finalizing a good composition. There's no texture to be found in Rios's ultra sleek, simple-to-a-fault artwork, and depth of any kind is a realm that's left to the colorist to explore. That results in a page that feels very unbalanced and faint, like it's constantly in danger of floating off into space.

This may be the least consequential single-issue story ever. It goes absolutely nowhere, and accomplishes little more than establishing who the lead is and what her present situation looks like, all of which had already been covered by the static blurb inside its front cover. It's a somber story by design, but not one that left me feeling any closer to its cast when I finally polished it off. This could've been a real gem, given the unheralded trials its lead has gone through of late, but instead it's maddeningly futile. Skip it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 2

No comments: