Firebreather: Holmgang #1


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Firebreather: Holmgang #1


  • Words: Phil Hester
  • Art: Andy Kuhn
  • Colors: Bill Crabtree
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Nov 24, 2010

In this opening issue, writer Phil Hester and artist Andy Kuhn fundamentally change Duncan’s world forever. After his father’s death at the end of the last story arc, Duncan finds himself completely lost. Not only did he just barely survive a brutal battle with killer robots by causing his father’s death, he has to keep all of that a secret from his UN handlers, his friends and even his mother. Duncan, who is usually snarky and self-pitying, begins withdrawing and lashing out at his friends.

From the beginning, this arc feels much more serious and much sadder than the previous ones. Within the first few pages Duncan is once again forced to deal with the fact that he is an outsider and people fear him. This only compounds the feeling of loss and loneliness he feels from the death of his father. Desperately seeking help, or even a drink of water, Duncan is screamed at, cowered from and even shot at.  When he retaliates slightly, he frightens a small boy and is seen as a monster. As if he didn’t have enough to feel bad about.

Throughout the story, Kuhn captures genuine silent pain in Duncan’s postures and expressions. This story shows the beginning of what promises to be the most action-packed story arc yet. Rival monsters are emerging to challenge Duncan, now that his father is gone. These monsters seem incredibly creepy and more dangerous than anything Duncan has faced before. I especially like that for the majority of this issue, Duncan’s wrath is directed at regular humans. Kuhn portrays Duncan’s grief and rage with sudden but brief outbursts that are handled masterfully.

In many ways, this is the more real issue of the Firebreather series yet. It’s a darker story, but that has nothing to do with Belloc’s death—maybe it’s just that Duncan is finally paying attention to the things going on with his friends around him, or maybe he’s just tired of the games and pretenses, but Duncan takes this issue to confront his friends and peers about the issues between them. These conversations truly captured the frustration and angst of teenage relationships in a way that no book about a teenage dragon should be able to. The fight between Duncan and Jenna was especially mind-blowing as it showed that Duncan was guilty of a lot of the same faults he hates others for.

Firebreather: Holmgang #1 was not just physically action-packed, but also emotionally. It puts Duncan in a position ripe with possibilities and sets a strong tone for the rest of this very worthwhile arc.  I counted at least five memorable moments within the book’s thirty-two pages.  You will definitely want to pick up this book and join Duncan on the wildest ride of his life.

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