FirebugIn the shadow of a volcano stands a golden city, ruled by the mysterious Cult of the Goddess. The Goddess is the volcano personified, and though once her cultists worshiped her, they now seek only to bind her power to control her and the city.

Keegan, the daughter of the Goddess’s latest incarnation, manages to escape the cultists’ clutches and falls in with a gang of plucky street punks, one of the many counterculture “Free the Goddess” groups. When Keegan persuades them to put some action behind their words, she launches a chain of events that rouses the wrath of the Goddesses of Fire and of Water in a battle that shakes the world.

I was immediately drawn in by the setting of Firebug. It has the perfect blend of magic and mystery with a dirty back alley. It manages to create a unique world that does not feel like a recycled medieval Europe or a caricature of an exotic foreign land. The architecture gives the impression of an old and stately city, while the more modern technology and clothing of the characters sets off just how ancient it is. The racial diversity in the city hints at a larger world (flashbacks to ancient times show only people of color, though there are white people in the modern city), yet the action remains firmly rooted on the island.

The story, on the other hand, jostled about without quite working out where it was going. The prologue sets the stage for the ancient volcano goddess who is trapped by her cultists, but then in Act 2 the conflict shifts to include another ancient goddess who is the volcano goddess’s rival without any sort of buildup.

The art is bright and bold and creates a strong sense of place—warm and vibrant reds where the volcano goddess reigns, cold blues for the rise of the ocean goddess, murky grays and greens in the forest of monsters. The images are full of texture that lends a depth to the world, and the action scenes are big and dynamic and eye-catching.

Firebug is a great choice for readers who want a unique and interesting art style, but perhaps not for readers who are looking for depth of characters. There is some graphic violence that makes this comic appropriate for adults or at least older teens. The ending is open enough to leave room for a sequel, and I would love to see more stories set in this world.

by Johnnie Christmas
Art by Johnnie Christmas, Tamra Bonvillan
ISBN: 9781534304949
Image, 2018

  • kaigottschalk

    Past Reviewer

    Kai is pursuing an MLIS degree at St. Catherine University in Minnesota. They are a fan of all things nerdy and used to work at a board games warehouse. Kai got into comics after discovering that webcomics were gayer and more up-to-date than traditionally published media. In addition to comics, they read about 15% of the books they check out from the library. Their favorite genres are fantasy, science fiction, and gay romance. Kai’s biggest passions are social justice, storytelling, and dragons.

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