Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review - Billy the Pyro #1-2


"I've always been told that I wasn't normal, that I didn't quite fit in. I was curious to see what normal actually meant, so I looked it up..."

Teenagers and angst go together like peanut butter and jelly. Most of that angst comes with sensations of loneliness and a desperation to fit in. Other times, that angst is rooted in a very difficult home life. A teenager dealing with angst from all angles is one of the toughest situations, unless you have a propensity for controlling fire like Billy in Billy the Pyro #1-2 from Alterna Comics. The issues are written by Brad Burdick, illustrated by Fabian Cobos, colored by Eddy Swain and lettered by Crank!.

Billy has trappings of a normal teenager; at least, he'd like to. Instead, he's forced to deal with an alcoholic father, a short temper and a strange ability to control fire. What he doesn't know is that the Genetic Alteration and Pyrokinesis Research Institute has been keeping an eye on hims and his abilities for their own interests. When Billy comes to grips with his newly discovered powers, he finds a new lease on life and the chance to make a difference in his life and the lives of those around him.

Pyromancy and pyrokinesis are often unheralded powers in the pantheon of superpowers. After all, how much good is it really to be able to control fire? Burdick's decision to imbue Billy with that ability makes the book feel new and refreshing since the power is somewhat underserved in comics. Sure, there are some notable characters who boast that power, but Burdick seems to rely on it as something of a secondary feature with Billy. Billy is forced to contend with a tough life and views his power as a potential way out, which will likely lead to some rather interesting morality questions. Burdick tackles such questions in the second issue, as Billy tries to save someone from being attacked and is "thanked" by being called a freak.

While pyrokinesis may not get as much attention as a character trait in all books, it's one of the more fun powers to illustrate. Cobos does so by subtly weaving the flame outbursts into the book in a way that really adds to the build-up and reveal. A lot of this is also owed to Swain's color choices, as most of the panels live in the darker range of colors and literally light up when the flames appear. It's a great combination of art and coloring by the team that really enforces the notion that Billy is a pretty powerful being when he needs to be. Some of the more kinetic panels feel a little awkward at points; for instance, Billy's running looks a little unnatural at times.

Billy the Pyro #1-2 looks to want to delve into the psychology behind the hero. Billy starts off as a maladjusted youth with a penchant for lighting fires, but by the end of the second issue he's a little more aware and confident. Burdick's story seems to be building up to some sort of confrontation between Billy and GAPRI for whatever reason (likely some sinister ulterior motives on the part of GAPRI). Cobos' art features characters defined by bold outlines that cut the panels they're set against. Billy doesn't understand the full weight of his role in the world and with GAPRI, but it's likely that when he does, the true pyrotechnics will come out.

The first two issues of Billy the Pyro are both available via Comixology with interiors from the first issue below.





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