Zeb Larson reviews Wildfire #3…
In the aftermath of the fire that swept through West Los Angeles, other plants are now growing wildly out of control and no one seems to know why or how to stop it. The city has been quarantined and the military is considering. Can Dan and Violet stop the disaster before the military takes more drastic measures for containment?
This comic continues vacillate back and forth between disjointed in sections and boring in others. We see some of the progression of the GMO outbreak, and the usual posturing and debating what to do among our various characters. None of it is an improvement on past issues.
Much of Los Angeles is destroyed by the blaze that broke out in the last issue, and the survivors are left facing a casualty toll in the hundreds of thousands. Dr. Miller is still in the university, and the military asks for his input on the problem. Beth Silva apparently died in the fire from last issue, leaving Miller as the chief authority on the outbreak. The leaders do not want his scientific advice, but a secondary mutation that’s occurring means that they will need him. Root systems in the plants are growing as well, causing seismic activity in Los Angeles, and the fear is that it will spread further. Faced with possible global contamination, the military is prepared to annihilate the city, and Dr. Miller is tasked with finding a way to stop that. Elsewhere, Violet and Ashley are making their way through the ruined city and encounter much of the devastation. The issue ends with Miller escaping with a journalist to spread the word about what happens next.
There aren’t any characters in this comic to be emotionally engaged with. People only emote in terms of anger or disbelief, which certainly isn’t giving Linda Sejic anything interesting to illustrate. We don’t really know anything about Violet and Ashley, so when they appear to be in danger it’s impossible to be really invested in their wellbeing. I think the only background we have for any of these characters is that Dr. Miller is raising his sister. Everybody is a mouthpiece for the narrator. For that matter, the tension between the journalists feels very, very trite. It’s just hard to imagine somebody watching the destruction of a major city while making catty comments about another woman’s appearance. It’s shallow writing just to write antagonists as one-dimensionally unpleasant, and it makes an antagonist pretty boring.
Also, killing a character off-panel? Normally that would mean that she’s just going to turn up later, but I would actually be happy if they got rid of Beth Silva like that. Her character was like some kind of sledgehammer smashing suspension of disbelief, not to mention reinforcing some unfortunate stereotypes about women. She served no purpose other than to create the narrative problem, so I guess we don’t really need her any more.
I’m not even going to touch on the science in this issue, except to say that it should make you want to bury your face in your hands. Matt Hawkins wanted to use this comic as a voice in the debate over GMOs, but I’m not sure that it’s making any contribution whatsoever. What is it saying? That we shouldn’t release untested compounds into the environment? I think pretty much everybody is in agreement with that idea. Everything else bears so little relation to reality that it’s not saying anything.
The action in the comic is pretty uninteresting, because we don’t really see any of the struggle in surviving the blaze from last issue. We see some of the earthquakes and their effect on the city, but that is the last page of the comic. Maybe the next one will have more for the readers to enjoy, but given the pacing thus far, I wouldn’t be too optimistic.