Triple threat creator/writer/artist Joe Martino was kind enough to send me copies of his Shadowflame comic book. Martino relayed a whopping four issues and all of them merited at least three bullets. A few managed four.
The first issue introduces the hero Shadowflame to the world. In civilian life, Shadowflame is a police detective named Tom Wyatt. Wyatt’s wife ends up raped and murdered (thankfully off panel) while he’s on the job. As time goes on, Wyatt seeks a lethal method to cope.
Having a woman raped and/or murdered to motivate the male protagonist is a massive cliché. So, I’m not very supportive of this moment in Shadowflame. However, there are a few differences. While the importance of the male is still emphasized over the importance of the female, Tom Wyatt doesn’t seek vengeance. He seeks release. The rape and murder catalyzes a hero’s creation in a distinct way.
Aliens that have been observing Wyatt’s family for decades intervene in the suicide attempt. With this twist, Martino answers one question that I always ask, “Why now? Why did the aliens choose this moment to show themselves and grant Wyatt the power?” For one thing, Maldestrak (love the name) an alien annihilator closes in on the Big Blue Marble. For another, Wyatt was about to end the line. So, the answer to why now is that the aliens had no choice.
The aliens imbue Wyatt with the Shadowflame. This gives him the usual super-strength, flight, and an eponymous energy blast. Still, some thought was put into designing his streamlined yet striking costume and visually Shadowflame cuts an above generic figure. Likewise, his behavior distinguishes him from cookie-cutter characters.
In this first issue of Shadowflame the champion saves a woman from being raped then beats the snot out of the would-be rapist. In my opinion, there’s far too much dialogue in the scene and it would have been more dramatic had Shadowflame attacked without a word. Nevertheless, the scenario is still pretty interesting. The rapist is so utterly outclassed, yet because of his proclivity, you can’t feel sorry for him. The art though raw conveys emotions. You really don’t need to read the dialogue in the scene to know that every strike against the rapist is a strike against the assaulters of Shadowflame’s wife.
The first issue of Shadowflame reads like a cross between Green Lantern and Batman, and that’s unique. As Shadowflame Wyatt has a duty to stop an alien warlord from exterminating the earth, but he also has a duty to protect women from evil men to honor the memory of the woman he loved and could not defend.