Vault Comics 2021
Written by Christopher Cantwell
Illustrated by Adam Gorham
Coloured by Kurt Michael Russell
Lettered by Hassan Otsman-Elhaou
Sam spirals deeper into darkness while the Blue Flame chooses to finally face the tragedy of his life on Earth. It remains to be seen if either of them will ever recover, and if they can still be heroes. As they grapple with their identities, Sam searches his soul and seeks relief in the arms of someone who may in fact be an adversary, while the Flame finds an ally in someone he thought was working against him.
This is that issue where something within Sam clicks and he stops feeling sorry for himself and starts to move forward. Mind you it isn’t just one event that suddenly gets him there but the catalyst itself is here. The time for mourning has to end as he has to fight for mankind's future and those of his sister and niece. Yes he’s been through a tragedy and yes he really needs to talk to a professional but he’s finally seeing himself as more than simply the victim or the one to blame for being the sole survivor, yes survivors guilt is a very real thing and not so simple to overcome trust me on this one.
I am loving the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is presented exceptionally well. The character development that we see through the narration, the dialogue, the character interaction as well as how they act and react to the situations and circumstances which they encounter does this magnificent job in bringing their personalities to the forefront. It is what makes the characters, Sam in particular, more relatable to. The pacing is excellent and as it takes us through the pages revealing more and more of the story we start to see Sam unravel the threads of his life.
The way that we see this being structured and how the layers within the story continue to emerge, grow, evolve and strengthen is magnificently rendered. It is within these layers where the bulk of the characterisation lay as well as the twists & turns and revelations within the plot take hold. What this does is add such delicious depth, dimension and complexity to the story. How everything works together to create the story’s ebb & flow as well as how it moves the story forward is beautifully achieved.
I am very much enjoying the interiors here. The dark gritty world of drunk Sam versus the bright shiny world of the Blue Flame are like night and day from one another. We see this setting the mood, tone and feel cues being taken from the art and then working towards how expressive and thought provoking these moments can be. The way we see backgrounds being utilised could be a tad better but they enhance and expand the moments nicely. They also work within the composition of the panels to bring out the depth perception, sense of scale and the overall sense of size and scope to the book. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a remarkably talented eye for storytelling. The colour work is rendered exceedingly well thanks to how the various hues and tones within the colours are being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work.
I really like this series so far. It is different than anything else we’re seeing on stands and that they have powers and are more than a bunch of folks seeking attention, okay were, by playing dress up and fighting crime. Sam has to remember why he got into this to begin with and follow his own moral and ethical code to get himself back to where he needs to be in that good mental place. With some dynamic writing and sensational characterisation wrapped up in these stellar interiors these folks have created a real life superhero who faces the same day to day decisions as cops or firefighters would, let alone “regular” humans. This will capture your attention and take you on as much a personal journey through the choices we make that could inevitably save the lives of untold billions.