Hey there everyone, and welcome to 2017! 2016 may have finally breathed its last after claiming so many high profile names (RIP, Steve Dillon) but a new year has started and so I dive back into my comics pile to keep you all entertained week after week. It’s a hard life, I swear.
This week’s title might have been a bit more appropriate last week, given the ridiculously hot weather, but seeing as I was busy hibernating under an air conditioner, now’s the time to chat about it. After a fairly long stint reading Image books – for good reason, they’re on a hot streak, pardon the pun – I went back to my old faithful, the halls of Vertigo, and picked up Slash & Burn, written by Si Spencer (Hellblazer: City of Demons, Judge Dredd) and drawn by Max Dunbar (Micronauts).
An orphan since the age of 12, Rosheen Hayes has always had an attraction to fire. With both of her parents dead in separate fires, growing up in an orphanage and joining a clandestine club of pyromaniac children did nothing to douse her attraction to fire. As an adult, and now (mostly) reformed, Rosheen doesn’t start fires – she fights them, as a talented fire-fighter in a small North Dakota town. Minus a few hiccups here and there, Rosheen’s been doing well – until the bodies of her old pyromaniac buddies start piling up, and a shifty big-city detective starts showing more than a professional interest in her. Rosheen is determined to find out who’s behind her friends’ deaths – but the investigation has stirred up bad memories, and bad habits begin to emerge once again.
I’m in two minds when it comes to Slash & Burn. On one hand, I wish that it hadn’t been cancelled – if it had a little more time to grow, I think it had the potential to be a great ongoing series. On the other hand, I’m not sure whether the premise could last that long. Although the last issue seemed incredibly rushed and took a lot away from the book – the story was more or less wrapped up and could’ve been satisfyingly finished in, say, another issue or two, and it would be hard to continue from there. I think it comes down to pacing; if the story was a little slower and didn’t introduce and kill off characters in the space of an issue, I think it’d be a lot easier to digest. That said, I’m still confused as to why a recovering pyromaniac would think that a career as a fire-fighter would be a good idea – I get the impression that it’d be kinda like an alcoholic working as a brewer or bartender. But hey, it makes for a good story.
One high point of the series is its art – Max Dunbar has done an excellent job from start to finish, and Nick Filardi’s colouring gives the whole book a suitably fiery glow. While the storytelling falls apart a bit towards the end, the art is consistently great, and I think that saved the book from a complete grilling (hurr hurr). Considering it’s the first thing from Vertigo to really catch my eye in a while, I’d still recommend it – complaints aside, it was an entertaining read, and if you’re a fan of thrillers or your CSI-esque procedurals, it’s probably up your alley.
Written by Alastair McGibbon