Review - Ignited #1

"This is not normal."

School shootings are--sadly--a way of life. Any attempts at gun control are met with resistance by lobbyists and stupidity which would make the idea that superheroes to stop shootings a great idea. In Ignited #1 from H1, superheroes are the response. The issue is written by Mark Waid and Kwanza Osajefo, illustrated by Phil Briones and colored by Andrew Crossley.

It's the first day back at Phoenix Academy High, but this year there's no back to school excitement in the air as returning students and faculty are haunted by memories of last year's horrific attack. So many friends and colleagues were lost, and some of those who survived underwent changes; they Ignited, gaining supernatural abilities they barely understand. Little do they know this is just the beginning!

It's a pretty common understanding that becoming a hero requires some sort of tragedy and that's no different for Waid and Osajefo. The tragedy on display is that of a school shooting, which is extremely sobering and tragic in its own right in a way that effectively establishes the stakes. Waid and Osajefo have plenty to say about school shootings and their aftermath, but those statements don't quite get far enough in establishing an interesting story. It seems as if there's some superheroes appearing at the school in the wake of the shooting, but Waid and Osajefo seem to drop that notion towards the end of the issue as a cliffhanger and not really an establishing plot point. The dialogue feels somewhat contrite given the otherwise dramatic subject matter of school shootings, although it is nice to see Waid and Osajefo attempt to lend the voice of students to such an event.

Briones' artwork is very slick and flashy, tapping into the superhero visual style quite effortlessly. Briones excels at rendering the students at the high school as truly unique individuals, giving all involved plenty of distinguishing characteristics that make the school feel as if its populated by a good variety of students. Every panel also feels densely packed as a result of this as Briones fills panels with a mix of students and high school setting that really help draw the reader further into the school. Briones takes an interesting approach on perspective where characters feel disproportionately larger than their setting in some instances; it's not enough to detract from the overall visual experience but it is noticeable. Crossley's colors are bright and vivid, effortlessly capturing the diverse style choices of high school students.

Ignited #1 is aptly named because it feels as if it could go off at any second. The new threats to the school are a response to the previous attack on the school and it'll be interesting to see how the students reconcile the two. Waid and Osajefo pen a script that's rife with angst, anger and reaction, all of which comes together to make for a potentially interesting story. Briones' artwork is very adept at rendering a day in the life of a high school student. Ignited #1 has the potential to be fascinating if it can find its footing.

Ignited #1 is available now.