Indie Comic Review: Project: Wildfire
“You ain’t gonna keep dodging me like this, Latrecia! I’ll be back!”
Last time in this here section I did a review of a military fiction comic, and now I’m back on my superhero bullshit. I love capes and tights, who doesn’t? So that’s why I took a gander at Project Wildfire, created and illustrated by Quinn McGowan and written by scribe Hannibal Tabu. The tale of a college student who tried to make a little extra money and ended up with superpowers. We should all be so lucky as the story’s hero so without further adieu...wait.
Will Watson III has gained superpowers after trying to make some extra money as a test subject at his college. He ends up becoming a member of the government organization MonsterWatch, and the United States’ best hope against giant rampaging monsters known as Kaiju. Now that we’re up to speed this issue begins with Will doing none of that, he’s flying into MonsterWatch where he’s greeted by his high-yella Liason Cheryl Hendrix, whom our hero un-affectionately calls “Hollaback girl” God knows why. Watson checks in with her and their boss general Dante “WarDog” Garrett who is dealing with a crisis and wanting very much for Will to leave. It seems that one of MonsterWatch’s pet projects got out and is now threatening to blow up HQ. The project in question is Project: Torrent, the predecessor to Project: Wildfire, and like Wildfire he is a man with special powers, who was created as a replacement for a
Project: Reaver. Torrent’s real name is Sargent Michael Marsden, and before he became Torrent he was apart of a black-ops team assigned to take out his predecessor who went rogue. While this is happening, wealthy adventurer, Sterling Shelby aka Agent Raven a Tony Stark-Bruce Wayne adjacent hero who has broken into the IRS and has discovered the government’s various payouts to Marsden, post-humously. Wildfire gets his ass kicked for a bit until Raven comes in and helps him, Wildfire listens to Marsden who only wanted to warn our hero about the fact that his handlers are pieces of shit and they’ll turn on will like they turned on Mike. The issue ends with an experimental weapon called the Trashbin initiative, which essentially warps Torrent to another dimension and a lot of questions from Wildfire and the readers.
Will Watson III is probably the sorriest and at the same time down to earth character I have ever read about. Hannibal Tabu writes him with very interesting verbiage like “What in the Name of Al Green is going on here.” It reminds me of Luke Cage’s “Sweet Christmas” but genuine and not what white people think black people speak like. I did find that refreshing Will sounds like a normal everyday guy, trying to hit on the cute woman at the MonsterWatch lunch counter. Or trading barbs with his reluctant partner Shelby who he calls “Silverspoon” or just outright insulting Cheryl even though she’s clearly sweet on him. He’s one of the most real people I’ve ever read about in a comic and I assume that’s by design. He’s not some tragically flawed brooding figure or some needlessly optimistic boy scout or some downtrodden boy genius having an amazing fantasy. He feels like a regular cat who got superpowers, one way or the other, didn’t really want em, but loves his city so much that he has to use them. Raven is a likable asshole, he’s written smug but mostly honest, whatever his motives are they are a means for him to benefit the city which oddly enough bears his namesake. “WarDog” feels a bit different from your standard military brass, he seems like the secret he is keeping is infinitely more interesting than MonsterWatch itself and Hendrix is an empathetic character, she’s like the character that does nothing wrong but gets dumped on for no real reason other than she’s there and she’s possibly naive. Project: Wildfire has a very human element to it that Tabu highlights with the greatest of ease. The most endearing quality of this story is that these characters seem real from the perspective of a young black man the eponymous Wildfire.
Quinn McGowan reminds me of Mike Deodato meets Ex Machina’s, Tony Harris. His digital photorealism style lends itself well to his creation and I don’t know if this is intended but there seems to be a level of psychedelia in the art that I really dug. McGowan is also great at facial expressions there’s a scene where Torrent is trying to tell Wildfire what he’s gone through because of MonsterWatch and the look on ‘Fire’s face seems to be one of genuine interest. He (McGowan) does something that very few artists can do he makes his characters look human without creating an uncanny valley scenario where they look more like simulacra than illustrated people. Overall the art was solid and the character designs weren’t too over the top but just fantastic enough to fit the genre, well as not over the top as a cape, tights, and an armored mech suit can get.
This universe had promise and I need a Project Reaver story so we can find out what the hell happened and how far this rabbit hole goes.
This review was written by Ra'Chaun Rogers on behalf of Concept Moon Studios. If you enjoy his comic reviews click here or more!