He’s been creating his own comics since the mid-’90s, but writer Bryan J.L. Glass creates his own superhero comic for the first time with “Furious” #1, illustrated by Victor Santos. It’s quite a departure for Glass, and for readers, who know him best for his space opera “Ship of Fools” or his current “Mice Templar” series. It definitely utilizes many of the usual elements found in superhero comics, but Glass makes sure that he delivers something a little different from the countless other offerings out there.
“Furious” is not only the name of the comic but also the superheroine protagonist, despite her best efforts to convince the public that this somewhat unflattering name the news media has tagged her with is not the one she has given herself, nor how she wants to be perceived. And that’s the central theme Glass centers around; Furious wants to be perceived as the prototypical, do-gooder heroine, but her motives and intentions don’t come across on television nearly as clear as her reckless actions and anger-fueled beatdowns.
The Beacon, as she prefers to be called (even though absolutely no one does), deludes herself with notions that she is acting in the public good, when the public good takes a back seat to her true goals: fame and recognition. The harder she tries, the worse she makes it for herself, and for others. She injects herself into the affairs of people around her, and her actions and inaction alike only cause more trouble. Glass creates an interesting kind of dichotomy with the character: her selfish motives make her difficult to pull for, yet the inadvertent damage she does to her reputation evokes sympathy. She’s an angry, regretful, glory hound, which makes her tough to get behind, but she’s making an honest — if misguided and probably ill-fated — attempt at self-redemption, which makes her the kind of underdog people want to succeed.
The Beacon/Furious is able to fly and seems pretty invulnerable, but these stock powers are incidental, and her origin isn’t even mentioned. Glass throws in only enough superhero antics to make the point that fame is fickle, and that it’s like a drug that can be addictive, and ultimately destructive. And this point is hammered home by the surprising-enough revelation of the character’s actual identity.
Glass gets a little heavy-handed with the message, though, and the both the action sequences and the quieter moments tend to drag on too long at times. The dialogue doesn’t have much in the way of punch, either. Art-wise, some of Santos’ panels are a little hard to decipher at first glance, and some are cloaked in shadow for no apparent reason. He’s remarkably consistent with the look of some characters, but less so with others. Despite some of these missteps, though, Santos has a mostly lightweight, pleasing style that keeps the mood of the comic from getting too dark.
Technique issues aside, “Furious” #1 is a superhero comic that has something to say, and says it enjoyably enough. Interested readers might also want to seek out the prologue to this issue that appeared in “Dark Horse Presents” #31.