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‘Wildfire’ #2 -The Series Has Already Started to Go Downhill

‘Wildfire’ #2 -The Series Has Already Started to Go Downhill

WildfireWildfire #2
Written by Matt Hawkins
Art by Linda Sejic
Published by Image Comics

I’m really having trouble buying into this comic. I’ll admit that my own politics on the GMO issue color my views substantially, but even apart from that, this comic is falling into a lot of familiar disaster clichés. The characters in the comic are not interesting at all, and what emerges is a comic in which you flip pages and wait for something bad to happen.

Los Angeles is now blanketed with spreading dandelions, and Dr. Miller is being mocked by his teenaged sister as WF002-Press-7-f9baa#dandelionloser. Dr. Silva is continuing to act like an idiot, acting shocked when people start blaming her for the outbreak and her sponsors distance themselves from her. Miller quickly gets detained by the police, partly for his own safety, and is forced to sit out for the rest of the comic. Some journalists cynically plan to use the disaster as a ratings mill, and sure enough, disaster strikes when a car accident sparks a fire. A general evacuation is called as the fire begins to sweep Los Angeles.

There’s only one real character in this comic, and that’s Dr. Miller. Everybody else is a cardboard cutout, saying lines uttered numerous times by other characters in other mediums. Dr. Silva is there to be the arrogant and foolish chief scientist, blinded by their own ability. Dr. Miller’s sibling is meant to give him a human connection, nag him through most of the story, and reconnect with him when it’s all over (or die to give him an emotional arc). We’ve got the anti-GMO advocates here to say what fools we all were and that we never should have tried to play God with nature.  We’ve even got some ratings-hungry journalists saying, and I had to double-take when I saw this, “Rumor, fear, and carnage are good for ratings.”

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WF002-Press-9-e31b7The problem with disaster films or disaster stories is that they’re usually only as interesting as the disaster they depict. In a comic book, we don’t have Paul Newman or Steve McQueen to spice it up, and the whole thing is going to rest on a good premise and payoff. We’ve already had part of that payoff tipped to us, so this whole issue is just a page-turner to see what the destruction will be. The process is largely irrelevant, so you might as well skip to the last five or six pages. To top it off, our characters aren’t stuck in burning buildings or outrunning wildfires. They’re mostly just looking at the fires as they consume L.A.

I want to stay away from critiquing the political positions of this book, because those positions are mine and should be separate from the story’s worth as a story. That being said, the book doesn’t really have anything to say about GMOs at all, and I don’t think it’s contributing to an intelligent debate. I think that fearmongering is bad storytelling, especially when it’s over something as silly as seeds that grow in a few seconds.