Wildfire #1 Review

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Chances are, if you’ve eaten anything in the U.S. within the last decade it has been genetically modified in some way.  How that affects you will differ person to person but it couldn’t mean the end of the world right?  Wildfire #1 seems to think so and your review waits after the jump!

Wildfire_1_coverWILDFIRE #1
Writer: Matt Hawkins
Artist: Linda Sejic
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Editor: Betsy Gonia
Publisher: Top Cow
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Wildfire: Scientists have been working with GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) for a long time but now a group has created a compound that accelerates growth.  It’s believed that this will help end world hunger but there are others against it.  This is how the end of the world will start.

 

TALE OF THE KILLER DANDELION

I read the synopsis for Wildfire and was instantly interested.  As far as I know, GMO is a topic that hasn’t been addressed in comics before, and very briefly outside.  It’s a premise that immediately hooks and Matt Hawkins does a great job with his opening issue.  Apocalyptic stories have been done to death but this is refreshing.  We barely get a glimpse at the future before we’re thrown into the past to see how it all started.  Some scientists with good intentions, and backed by a conglomerate, attempt to create a fast growing plant.  Things go wrong at a demonstration, releasing altered dandelion seeds into the air and, as a result, create a situation that is sure to have negative effects.

When writing about controversial topics such as this, it’s easy for the writer to choose a side, turning the work into a soapbox for their opinions.  So far, Matt Hawkins is staying neutral, telling his story and letting the reader decide.  He shows both viewpoints well and his scientists aren’t evil people in lab coats.  They’re just regular people trying to make the world a better place, wanting to keep their jobs and forced into a difficult situation.  On the other hand, his activist characters make valid points but some seem fiendish themselves.  I loved that the “outbreak” is caused by a protester rather than a lab mistake.  It’s another element that Hawkins adds that makes the story truly unique. Of course, the big corporations are still evil, but that’s a given.  The whole issue feels true to life and like something that could be a potential threat.  It’s all compelling and if it isn’t evident he’s done his research in the story, there’s a wonderful section in the back that discusses the science of GMO that’s brilliant.  Seeing a creator’s interest and outside work on a topic is alway nice to see and is a cool bonus.  There’s so much good stuff going on within these pages that it’s hard not to get hooked.

ONE OF THE DRAWBACKS TO DIGITAL COLORING

Linda Sejic is clearly working with digital tools and it’s a good example of how digital art can hamper a book.  Her figures and scenery are very well drawn, looking somewhat influenced by anime.  It’s good work but the coloring wrecks a lot of it, making the entire thing appear flat.  Some of it works, and there are moments of depth, but lots comes off as unnatural and somewhat distracting.  She does bring some great things to the table.  Her panel layouts are great and she does a nice thing where the edges take shape at crucial moments.  Scenes with fast action have the panel edges shaped like movement lines and a character waking up is surrounded by a bubbly edge.  It’s a fun technique that I enjoyed seeing and wasn’t overused.  Still, readers who don’t like their art done in Photoshop are going to dislike this book.

BOTTOM LINE: A BOOK SPROUTING IDEAS

Wildfire honestly shocked me with its quality.  I knew going in that the concept was cool, but Matt Hawkins tells a compelling, neutral and enjoyable story so well that I’m all in.  The story leads the readers on the journey and allows them to decide how they feel.  Linda Sejic’s art is good, but the digital nature makes the book flat and distracts.  Wildfire #1 sprouts interesting scientific quandaries and is hard to put down.  It will grab you and have you thinking afterward and is well worth your time.