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Flare #3

Posted: Saturday, January 29, 2005
By: Ray Tate



"Unfinished Business"
"Flowers for My Hero"

Writer: Wilson Hill; Steve Perrin
Artists: Gordon Purcell & Terry Pallott;Terry Pallot;Mike Estlich(c)
Publisher:Heroic

Wilson Hill's first tale in the third issue of Flare presents her introduction to the Heroic world of super-heroes in the perspective of an egotistical villain.  This is hilarious and fitting pillow talk from a loon in love with himself.  Like a true "visionary" he manages to deflate his own argument and fails to see the fatal flaw. 

The winning scene moves to the more domestic area of Terri "Flare" Feran's life.  She utilizes the style and tastes of the villain she just faced last issue to decorate her new home.  Hill has a great take on these characters.  He studies what has gone in comic books before.  Keeps what's good and then gives the events a little spin that takes the story in an unexpected direction. 

Not much really happens in this first tale.  You get a flashback, a hint of foreboding and then some casual interaction among heroes and villains.  Flare really shouldn't be this good, and maybe because I'm simply starved for such entertainment it only seems that way, but Flare engrosses through sheer characterization and dialogue. 

The characters mostly female are all intelligent.  We see Flare's laboratory and she discuses the properties of carbon with the Black Enchantress who visits.  Well, hell if I didn't have a Batgirl/Supergirl flashback.

This is not to say that either the Enchantress or Flare are analogues to the dead DC icons.  They are specific, distinctive heroes--villains if you take Enchantress at her word.  Each player on the side of good is likeable in her own individual way.

The second story by Steve Perrin focuses on Flare's sister Sparkplug, and this is a real amusing winner for any Black Canary fans.  Again, let me stress that while Heroic Publishing's heroes are cut from the same cloth as the pre-Crisis super-heroes of DC, they are not rip-offs nor even fan fiction type homage. 

While Sparkplug can never be mistaken for Black Canary.  Her setup is very Canary like in that she wears a wig to disguise her own hair color and her secret identity owns a flower shop.  This story gives her a Larry Lance, but whereas Black Canary was waiting for the dim-bulb detective to dope out her secret.  Sparkplug goes out of her way to protect her identity, and her determination is hilarious.  Just the idea of a secret identity story in this age tickles me.

Purcell and Pallot both do adequate jobs when illustrating Flare's or Sparkplug's adventures, and in many instances, the artists carry themselves above average in the panels.  Purcell's depiction of Andrea the Black Enchantress carries a little more artistic impact since she is supposed to be a younger woman than Flare.  Thus, her proportions are several notches below the expected bombshell type of super-hero.  Even Flare who meets the criteria bears a little more depth and scale than expected.  One real problem I noticed regarding the artwork occurred in the early panels where every character seemed to have an asymmetrical nose.  I don't actually expect perfect or homogenous features in characters.  As with reality this would get boring real fast, but a plastic surgeon needed to be called in for some of these scenes.



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