With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!
Publisher: Image Comics
*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*
Number of Issues: 2 (plus a retailer-exclusive preview)
First Issue: December 2006 ($5.99)
Last Issue: January 2007 ($5.99)
Writer: David B. Schwartz
Artist: Sean Wang
Cal’s heat-powers have destroyed his life. They put an end to a promising career as a major-league baseball pitcher. Since he quit high school to chase his baseball dream, he was left with no other job-worthy skills … so he became a super-hero out of desparation. They’ve rendered him infertile, ending his marriage to the love of his life. Now they’re eating his body from the inside out and he’s only got a few days to live.
In his final days on Earth, Flare (Cal’s super-hero code name) decides to end the threat of his arch-nemesis, Maelstrom, forever. He also intends to patch things up with his ex-wife, Amara. But, perhaps what he didn’t expect was to become the hero he never dreamed about being and leaving behind an inspiration.
The Bad: I wonder if the double-sized issue format may have hindered sales of this book. I can’t help but think it would have sold a bit more had it been four regular-sized issues, instead. It looks like every hero/villain name has been taken already. Flare (the main character) is the name of a well-established, indepenent super-heroine and Maelstorm (the villain) is a villain’s name from the Marvel Universe.
The Good: Schwartz told a touching super-hero story here while flushing out Flare’s characterization and past through a bunch of flashbacks. Wang did a great job of switching up his art-styles between the present action and the past experiences. These switches did a wonderful job of indicating what time period it belonged to. And, even though the character wasn’t too thrilled to be a super-hero, the story made him quite empathetic. Latinos will appreciate the main character’s heritage but, the writer did a nice job of not laying it on too thick (keeping it accessible to all ethnic groups). In addition to a fantastic art/story team, the covers were illustrated by two high-profile (yet diversely different in style) artists: Chris Bachalo and Greg Horn.
The Verdict: It’s rare to see a super-hero story told with so much heart but this series really makes you feel for its main character. This is probably because the story pushes him through so many extreme emotions … allowing the reader to experience his ups and downs. As mentioned before, the artist switches up his style, making it easy to tell when the story is set in the present or when it’s one of the many flashbacks that provide important character development. This book deals with a subject that mainstream super-hero publishers (logically) can’t believably take on and that’s what sets this series apart. It doesn’t pull any punches and allows us to witness the final days of a true hero.
On Ebay: Meltdown