It’s no longer the kiss of death to admit this, but I like the character of Firestar. I remember when she was running around on the “Amazing Spider-Man and Friends” cartoon, her original mini-series from Marvel, and her becoming a founder of the New Warriors. After being retired during “Civil War,” she’s started to have a little resurgence over the last year; first as one of the leads in “Marvel Divas,” now her own one-shot, and a position in the upcoming “Young Allies” series this summer.
I am starting to wonder, though, when Firestar became the poster child for the comic book version of television’s “very special episode.” When she was a member of the Avengers we learned that her microwave powers were making her infertile. She went through breast cancer in “Marvel Divas.” Heck, she even gets the “my boyfriend is in prison” special episode from her time in “New Warriors.” Unfortunately, Sean McKeever dips into that well for Firestar, as we get a combination of “my friend has a drinking problem” and “these are the side-effects of chemo.” It’s hard to not roll your eyes at all of this; every time you turn around, Firestar’s getting pulled into another young adult drama. Heck, there’s even a subplot involving a divorced parent dating again, which like the rest of this comic’s plot feels like it was mined from an “After-School Special.”
On the plus side, Emma Rios’ art is as good as always. Most recently drawing the “Strange” mini-series, it’s always a pleasure to see Rios’s lithe character designs. Under Rios’ pen, people have hair that flops and hangs like the real deal, and sometimes are in awkward positions as they fly around. Rios’ characters move and gyrate like you expect real people to do so, and she keeps an eye on background details like bookshelves and plants in people’s living rooms. It’s been a joy to watch Rios draw books at Boom! and Marvel, and hopefully she’ll land a regular monthly position (if she wants one) before too long.
There are some small nuggets of good in the comic’s story. I like that McKeever still has Firestar attending university and taking the train to and from the city, and the appearance of Photon was a nice touch. I also appreciated that the person with the drinking problem was a past high school nemesis for Firestar, although it does get dangerously close to “my bitterness is hiding problems.” At the end of the day, though, I expected a lot more from McKeever; he’s normally better than this. Hopefully this isn’t a road Firestar will head down in the upcoming McKeever-written “Young Allies.” I think we’re all ready to say goodbye to the very special episode, be it television, comics, or any other form of media.