REVIEW: FireGirl

It’s hard for a new heroine to fight supervillains, and it’s even harder when those villains are people you once called coworkers and friends, and even more so when they’re dropping buildings on you. But FireGirl isn’t about to give in to her old friend, Volt, and escapes her would-be rubbly grave. It doesn’t take long before FireGirl to not only meet up with her former comrade, but also Pyroclast, who looks a little more capable of taking her down. FireGirl is full of fierce determination to put a stop to their…. Whatever it is they’re doing. You see, not once in the entire issue does it even hint at what in the world these superbeings are battling over. I get it – they want to kill FireGirl, but unless she’s engaged them on the pure fact that they’re allegedly evildoers, I just don’t… understand.

Issue number one is written and illustrated by creator Larry Spike Jarrell, with interior colors by Alethea Van Holland and the cover colors by Ben Hunzeker. Jarrell has the bare bones of a story here, and that’s about it, to be honest. The plot isn’t fully there, with a lot of details and backstory missing. While that works for some stories, FireGirl just comes across as an empty skeleton of an idea, riddled with bad puns and repetitive language. I was also less than thrilled about the character design itself; while technically most of it is good, I found the designs to be nearly generic, from the lightning bolt in Volt’s ‘do to the flaming hair of FireGirl. Pyroclast looks like an odd mash-up of Ghost Rider and Mr. Freeze, though, so that’s a little cool. The faces all have facial lines that look like they’re shooting for a more realistic style that fell short, evidenced by the lack of similar details throughout the story, or extraneous sketch lines that weren’t erased when it came to inking. Other than that, the art is sound. The panel transition runs smoothly, not leaving your mind scrambling to fill in awkward stiff poses or moving details. There’s plenty of action, and the colors are actually beautiful. But when we hit the last panel, the writing became an issue again; a giant cliffhanger for a plot that still has me lost somewhere around the Bermuda.

Issue two, as it came to me at the point this review was written, was not fully fleshed out, and I was disappointed by that. Overall, I felt like Jarrell holds potential and just needs feedback and some fine tuning to make FireGirl a more pleasurable read. With the second issue written by Stephanie Sorensen, and the illustration and coloring remaining the same, I have higher hopes for the run. Though the dialogue isn’t filled in on my review copy, the artwork tells a beautiful story, and I almost find myself wishing that it would remain a ‘silent’ comic. But the art is partially led by the writing, and if that tells me anything, FireGirl has a greater potential that we’ve yet to see.

Sorensen herself is the inspiration for FireGirl, a real life firefighter who overcame a series of traumatic events that left her with serious anxiety concerning fire sirens. Working past her anxiety at the encouragement of a friend, Sorensen set her eyes on the position of volunteer firefighter. Sorensen could be the exact type of character we need in comics: strong, determined and female, part of the new frontier that the industry has begun to wander down more blatantly. An advocate for special needs children, Sorensen is also a mother to a child with autism, and part of the money made from FireGirl merch and books goes towards the cause. The money helps purchase sensory products for parents and teachers of those with autism. These products can consist of things like playdough, weighted vests, fidget toys, pressure combs and visual aids to help those on the spectrum adjust to the daily tasks they may otherwise struggle with. It’s an amazing cause, and as a mother to a son on the spectrum who has big dreams for himself, it’s one I find my heart going out to. The autism spectrum carries a wide range, and informed advocates are important for a child with autism to succeed in life, be they outwardly co-dependent or struggling internally. I can get behind a character that stands for that.

Overall, FireGirl has some work to do. The puns and writing have thus far learned towards a groan-worthy humor, and the art needs some fresher takes and minor touch-ups. But the character itself, and the woman who inspired her, have the makings of a view-changing comic, and I hope that Jarrell and Sorensen are given the opportunity to use their skills and platform to help her see her full potential.

Creator/Producer/Writer/Editor – Stephanie Sorensen
Sketch Art/Inks/Lettering – Larry Jarrell
Colorist – Alethea Van Holland
Production Manager – Nicole Mejias
Color Colorist – Dheeraj Kumar

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