Set in President Ronald Reagan’s America of the late 1980s, Cinder and Ashe (DC Comics, four issue miniseries, May-August, 1988) by writer Gerry Conway and artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is, at its heart, a love story. However, in its head it’s an effective crime thriller.
The heart and head have been wounded by war, though–in this case, Vietnam. Cinder (a young woman born of a mixed marriage in Vietnam) and Ashe (a Cajun vet who saved Cinder from certain death and rescued her at the end of the war from an empty life) are both scarred and haunted by their respective and shared pasts in Vietnam.
Cinder and Ashe’s past and present mingle, overlap, and violently explode throughout this riveting page-turner as Lacey (a vile and malicious individual from Cinder’s childhood in Vietnam, and who was believed dead) is involved in a deep plot to ruin an American farmer’s life. The farmer (whose fate seems inevitable, though Conway opts to build his character instead) has gone to Cinder and Ashe in the hope that they, as problem-solvers-for-hire working out of New Orleans, can uncover and stop the people attempting to destroy him and his family’s life.
However, when Lacey stumbles upon the adult Cinder, he begins to take matters into his own hands. It isn’t long before Cinder and Ashe realize that they are targets–and there is no room for error if they want to stay alive. Soon, not even the men who hired Lacey are safe.
Nothing in Conway’s writing is forced, stretched, or allowed to step into tacky melodrama–his primary fault as a superhero writer. Garcia-Lopez’s illustrations are skilled, realistic, and accomplished. Cinder and Ashe may be his best work in a brilliant career.
This series was difficult to both categorize and successfully promote when it first published in 1988, and it has virtually dropped off the radar ever since. Now, at its 20th anniversary, Cinder and Ashe deserves some long overdue recognition. A collected edition that is wisely promoted might win it the audience it never garnered 20 years ago.