Ignited #1, by Mark Waid/Kwanza Osajefyo (writers), and Phil Briones (Art), is the first comics published by the new superhero line, H1, from Humanoid Comics.
When I was asked to review a new Mark Waid book, I jumped at the chance. This was the guy who wrote the great Kingdom Come (1996)! Couple that with the fact that his co-writer was Kwanza Osajefyo of Black (2016) fame, and I was more than excited. Before I get to my take on the book, here's a little synopsis.
Phoenix Academy High School had been the battleground of a school shooting, and was reopening a few, short months later. Our narrator, Anouk, also called "Getalong" by her peers, takes us through the first days back. As you can imagine, it's an emotionally turbulent time for all: teachers and students alike. A proposition to allow teachers to be armed makes its way to the school board, and that's the impetus for @wave and @viral, two masked vigilantes to step in and try and save the school from any more harm.
I've heard in the past that Mark Waid can be a little self-asserting and aggressive with his narrative intentions, often leading to the suggestion that it overwhelms the esteemed writer's talents. My reading of Ignited though, saw Waid make no sacrifices with his writing. This could possibly be the influence of co-writer, Osajefyo, but either way the writing is quite good.
My only potential criticism might be the hyperrealism that the book depicts. Now, I'm all for realism in comics; I'm no Dadaist. But the material seems almost too relevant, if that makes sense? I love my comics sprinkled with real world events. That's why Watchmen (1986) worked so well, and books from Black Mask Studios, as well. But those stories incorporate the surreal with the real. From this first issue, it feels like we're just getting the real. Knowing that this is a superhero line for Humanoid, I'm curious to see where that fiction comes in; it very well might be the thing that makes this comic seem not so in-your-face with today's news.
Taking a break from that, I want to just say the art is fantastic. Briones's use of closeups and the way the pages break is an aesthetic knock-out. I can't really compare it to anything else because it feels very new and fresh, and I think of all of the things this book has to offer, this may be the most impressive. There's one scene in particular that stands out (all I can say is it's hued in red) and gave me chills.
I don't mean to sound like I'm denigrating this book in any way; two of my favorite writers have helmed what could become a great series. But if we're going by first issues, and if Mark Waid's reputation is at stake here, I'm going to be a little cautious. Osajefyo does know how to balance the real and the extraordinary, and so having him on board may balance the scales. I actually am looking forward to more issues. I say pick up a copy and try it out, it doesn't hurt and you're supporting an independent label and creators.