Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review - Shadowflame

Time and the universe are a lot vaster than we think. Doctor Who (David Tennant) refers to it as a "big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff" that is far from linear. It's an entity where things occur beyond our wildest imaginations, yet sometimes those things still need humans for one reason or another.

Shadowflame (Graphic Novel) is a great example of such an instance, a four-issue miniseries collected by Arcana Studios. It's created and written by Joe Martino, who also handles the pencil duties on the first four issues (Naser Subashi pencils the third while Rick Buckler, Jr. pencils the fourth). Peter Palmiotti inks the first two issues, Dash Martin colors the first issue and Ian Sokoliwski colors the latter three issues. Johnny Lowe handles the lettering.

Tom Wyatt is an officer for the NYPD, working hard to get him and his wife into a better situation. One of those late nights turns bad for his wife, the victim of the crime in the neighborhood they live in. A second before he's about to take his own life, he's "saved" by a race of aliens who need his lineage to stop Maldestrak, a destroyer of worlds.

Wyatt is imbued with intergalactic powers and dons a suit that brands him Shadowflame. As Shadowflame, Wyatt is taking his newfound abilities to the streets in an effort to stop the Baltinetti family from running the street. His newfound and refined war on crime brings him across villains such as Electrocutioner and Doctor Anarchy, as well as other superheroes such as Agent Napalm, Cyberine, Crimson, Desiree, Barrel and Caress.

Shadowflame is an interesting tale. It's a tried and true story, where a human being is given cosmic powers and uses those for the better good. The story has that 80s Marvel feel, where everything was about the universe and the characters interacting with it.

Wyatt as a character goes through quite a transformation from start to finish. He goes from being on the verge of suicide, to reveling in his newfound powers to realizing that he's now got a higher calling thanks to those powers. It's a solid arc that will pay dividends down the road.

One minor gripe is that the first four issues feel slightly disconnected within the grander scheme of Maldestrak. Wyatt is given the powers explicitly to stop Maldestrak, but the second and third issues have Shadowflame facing off against the Baltinetti family. It seems a little counterintuitive to fight to be fighting a local crime boss as opposed to an intergalactic world destroyer. Maladestrak shows up in the fourth issue, but it seems to be more just to resolve the story than anything. He is pretty badass though in his appearance.

Despite the myriad of arists, inkers and colorists, there's not really any jarring jumps between issues. It's very superhero oriented, but that works for this story. There are a lot of action scenes in the four issues that are illustrated very well.

The first four issues of Shadowflame have laid the groundwork for what could be a great story. Martino is really comfortable with Wyatt/Shadowflame and knows what he wants from him. It remains to be seen how the other superheroes will play into his life and whether or not there will be random villains appearing more often. Hopefully there are intergalactic threats that Shadowflame faces off against as well.

Shadowflame (Graphic Novel) is available at Arcana's online store.

2 comments:

  1. can't wait to read the other stories!

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  2. Both Shadowflame and Maldestrak show up in Dave Ryan's The War of the Independents as well as a Shadowflame stand-alone tie-in comic, out now from Red Anvil Comics.

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