reviewbubble.jpgmeltdownpicon.jpgEver have a really bad day?

I’ve had my fair share of days where I’ve felt like everything I’ve done has been for naught.  Whether it be yelling at someone when I was in the wrong, or continuing to make mistake after mistake instead of correcting the main problem, life can really seem like a rotten experience sometimes.

The Flare has had one of those lives, and he’s about to have a meltdown.

meltdown01_cov.jpgMeltdown #1: Book One
David Schwartz (w)
Sean Wang (a), Guru-eFX (c)
Chris Bachalo (cover)

Image Comics sent me a preview of Meltdown #1 last week, and I finally had a chance to pick it up.  I wish I had done it sooner.

Caliente was born with metahuman powers, which manifested at an early age.  He has the ability to absorb, project, and control heat.  While some may see this as a gift, for Cal, it’s nothing but a problem.  At an early age, his powers forced him to be a loner, as his friends shunned him.


The one thing that made his life seem like it was worth it was Amara.  I think we’ve all had an Amara in our lives; the cute girl who you really like – or maybe even love – who just didn’t see it the same way.  And even though you tried to impress her, she always dated the wrong guy.

Cal feels the same way, partaking in many extra curricular activities through high school to be near or to impress her.  The one thing that Cal is actually really good at is baseball, and when he realizes Amara won’t be seeing him as anything other than a friend (ouch), he drops out of school to join a minor league baseball team.

His success as a minor league player earns him some friends, some respect, and the attention that he craves.  As he travels the country he learns to hone his powers, but when he is caught flying, the league thinks he is using his powers to game the system and drums him out in disgrace.

That is when he joins a government sponsored super team, but with government pay, being the token minority, and the guy who is lowest on the totem pole, his life isn’t that great.


The problem for Cal is no matter how hard he tries, no matter what he does, it just isn’t good enough for anyone.  The media crucify him when a kid sets himself on fire trying to be like him, yet ignore all of the children he has saved.

We’ve all been in the position, no matter how hard we try, the man keeps pushing us down.  Whether it be a power hungry boss, or a competitor who is looking for a way chip away at your armor for his own gain, readers will be able to identify with the continuing oppression being applied to our hero.

David Schwartz does an amazing job at bringing forth the internal turmoil and suffering felt by Cal and to a larger extent the internal struggle we all feel.

Almost like a typical love story movie, Amara reenters Cal’s life, and even though the two fall in love and get married, his powers are still a problem.  So he leaves, throwing himself back into his work, which eventually leads to the worst day in his life where his powers go out of control.  He soon discovers he is burning himself out – literally.

As I was reading this issue, I flashed back to 1993’s Falling Down staring Michael Douglas.  His character had a bad day too, but instead of trying to go out on the side of good, he went a totally different direction.  Even though Cal is having a really bad moment, he struggles to retain the idea that he is a hero, no matter what anyone says to the contrary.

And as he struggles with what he has done with his life, he realizes there is one thing still left to do before being extinguished forever – bring down his arch-nemesis Maelstrom.  And the two fight in a mega battle the likes Miami has never seen.

The story is told via flashback, and this brings out the fantastic art skills of Sean Wang. When the story is told in the present the artwork is grim and dirty, yet when we flashback to an early time, the lines are clean, the colors bright.  As the past leads to the present, the art adapts.  Simply brilliant.  I took a look at some of Sean’s sample work on his website (, and I have to say I have become a fast fan of his style.

Maybe it is because I read this issue on one of those days where life kicks you in the teeth, grins maniacally, then kicks you again, or it could simply be the fantastic job done by Schwartz and Wang, but I have to say this is one of the best titles I have read in a long, long time.  Even with all of my fawning over DC’s 52, it doesn’t hold a candle to the emotional storytelling found in the pages of Meltdown.  As the year quickly comes to a close, Meltdown is on my list for one of the top titles of the year.  Meltdown receives a well deserved 5 out of 5 Stars.


Meltdown hits stores December 6th, 2006 and will sell for $5.99.

Parting Shot


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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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