Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Firehawk Comic Box Commentary
It has been an interesting 7 years working this site, commenting on Supergirl, the Superman Family, and the Legion. At times, I felt like this was a place where Supergirl fans could come to talk about her and her history. There weren't many Supergirl sites out there when I started so I felt like this blog was a needed space on the web.
But with the coming of the television series, Supergirl sites feel plentiful these days. Fan sites, podcasts, television news sites are popping up everywhere.
Kara is everywhere.
I had to come to the realization that maybe the professionals should take over Supergirl coverage.
Maybe I'm not needed anymore.
And so, the time was right. It's time to focus this place to another underappreciated superhero. She's strong, powerful, and determined. She's on a journey.
So welcome to Firehawk Comic Box Commentary!
And I couldn't think of a better issue to kick off the new focus of the blog than The Fury of Firestorm #42, a Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover issue, spotlighting Firehawk, and having her come into her own as a hero! (It didn't hurt that this issue also features a classic Donna Troy as well.) And, it being Crisis' 30th anniversary, it feels right.
Written by Gerry Conway, penciled by Rafael Kanayan, with great inks by the team of Akin and Garvey, this issue is a pure delight, embracing the breadth of the DCU and progressing the character of Lorraine Reilly, Firehawk!
Even then DC knew that these cross-overs were a way to get new readers to sample books. So there was a good chance that people buying this book might have no idea who Firehawk is. And since this book is about her maturing as a hero, a sort of primer was necessary.
So in this opening, we learn about the Lorraine Reilly side of her character. She is the daughter of a senator, a forever sophomore in college ... actually colleges. You get the sense that Lorraine has been something of a slacker, someone who has never had to struggle in life.
But she also has another name.
She is Firehawk.
Now a quick recap of her origin. Lorraine was that pampered daughter who had interactions with Firestorm enough to become a sometime girlfriend. Later she was kidnapped by evil entrepreneur Henry Hewitt. Exposed to Martin Stein's nuclear reactor and brainwashed, Lorraine became Firehawk. Her powers seem to be flight and heat/flame production. Initially, under her programming, she attacked Firestorm. But then she broke free of Hewitt's control, becoming a sometime hero.
And now, in this issue, in the topsy-turvy, time-warped world of the Crisis at that point, she sets out to find her father in a jumbled New York City. She is joined by Wonder Girl who is on a similar mission. Donna wants to find her husband.
In Crisis on Infinite Earths #8, her original costume was destroyed and Lorraine used her powers to somehow create a new outfit.
In a nice moment, Donna talks about how that simple change in costume is an important moment, a way that Lorraine has cemented her sense of identity. She isn't wearing the costume Hewitt put her in as a fire-powered assassin. This is her own look. It is powerful.
And it is perfect that Donna is saying this. Remember, Donna's first costume was a carbon copy of Wonder Woman's costume. When she chose the red jumpsuit, she forged her own identity away from Diana.
The current world of the Crisis is a chaotic mess with different time periods existing all at the same time. So while some areas of New York are in the present time, there is also future worlds, ancient times, and other eras all existing next to each other.
It is crazy enough that the two heroes can be attacked by a weird prehistoric octopus like monster. Working together, the two escape the peril.
I always applaud small moments in comics which enrich a character, making them more three-dimensional. We have met Lorraine and we have met her father. But we know precious little about her mother.
Here we learn what little Lorraine remembers of her. She always worked in the garden. She always smelled of flowers. She always had soil on her hand.
It is a simple memory. But it speaks volumes about this woman. She was grounded ... literally. She isn't seen in fancy gowns at Senate events. She is jeans, working the soil, smiling. And working in a garden isn't easy. It almost contrasts the easygoing lifestyle that Lorraine has had before, failing out of schools and living the life of the socialite. There are deep roots here.
The search for father and husband is something of a wash given the time-torn nature of the city.
In fact, a large section of this area in embroiled in the Revolutionary War. And to make matters worse, Donna for some reason collapses.
It's like a reverse Sleepy Hollow, only 30 years ago!
Firehawk returns to her Lorraine form and tries to find help. Unfortunately, two women ... one "dressed like a man", the other 'dressed in her underthings and sporting British colors' ... are looked upon oddly by the crowds.
Luckily, Tomahawk, DC's frotiersman, is there to help and shuffle them away.
Now Lorraine could have burned all these guys but she wants to help Donna. So she accepts Tomahawk's aid.
It turns out that the prehistoric octopus must have some toxin it secretes. Donna is febrile, weak, and there isn't much that this colonial doctor can do to help her.
Things are bizarre enough for the surroundings that Lorraine feels she needs to reveal who she is and when she is from to Tomahawk. And surprisingly, Tomahawk takes it in stride. In fact, he wonders if Lorraine and her powers could be used as a diversion, luring the British redcoats away so George Washington can slip his army away.
At first Lorraine isn't sure she should help. But then the feverish Donna tries to step up. Donna knows what the right thing to do is. It is to help. And if Lorraine won't, she will.
Donna is still too weak. So Lorraine steps up.
We sure do see a lot of Donna in this issue.
Perhaps changing the course of history, Firehawk ... and ultimately a recovering Wonder Girl ... wade into battle and thrash a contingent of British troops allowing Washington and his men to slip away.
It is a nice scene of the heroes going about their business. I love that first panel, Donna playing 'bullets and bracelets' like a champion!
But even here, while doing what's right, Lorraine wonders if she would keep her powers if she had the opportunity to rid herself of them. She is Firehawk but she hasn't accepted or embraced her abilities and what she can do with them.
Suddenly this mission has given Lorraine some clarity of thought. She needs life goals. She was fighting for something important. And she liked how that made her feel. She is ready to be a super-hero! And what better mentor or sounding board than Wonder Girl. Perfect!
And so begins a new focus for Firehawk and a new focus for this site. Hope you like it!!!
For a Firehawk collection, I would say this issue is of high importance. It is worth finding at your local store!
Overall grade: A