Writer: Scott Wherle
Co-Plotter: Jim Valentino
Artist: Ted Wing III
Publisher: Image Comics
Plot: Eddie’s classmate, Philip Marko, has gained the abilities to turn his arsonist fantasies into reality. Philip uses the power to retaliate against his high school tormentors.
Commentary: The socially inept victim turned into vengeful spirit is not new. Usually their behavior is motivated by their upbringing or by anger they have internalized and now are projecting outward through some awesome power. Usually, this power is then misused. We’ve seen it as archetype in television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files and countless other comics and stories. I remember most recently reading an issue of Amazing Spiderman which dealt with a similar theme. Phillip’s powers aren’t new either. There must be at least one mutant in the Marvel universe, whose name escapes me, who can burn everything to a crisp.
The inevitable clash between Phillip and Shadowhawk revisits a familiar element from past issues: Even though Eddie is advised by the other Shadowhawks to end the melee by killing Philip, Eddie again sticks to his convictions and tries to find another way to deal with the conflict. This sense of morality distinguishes him from the others who’ve donned the helmet and which makes him more of a relatable hero. I’ve always enjoyed comics in which the hero’s power gets passed down, such as Captain Universe in the Marvel universe, and this one is no exception. Also, it’s always interesting to see how Eddie deals with the power he wields, while taking advice from his predecessors but at the same time making it his own.
Meanwhile, another super force is enlisted to take down Shadowhawk, and he looks to be the most imposing one yet in terms of brute force. Super heroics, ominous threats and slugfests aside, Scott Wherle and company have done a good job of familiarizing and making the reader care about Eddie’s supporting cast, most notably his father who has to get used to his son’s identity, but who has problems of his own. Eddie’s father is the everyman living vicariously through his son’s exploits, while at the same time scared to death of the risks he takes. Ted Wing’s painted panels serve the story well by bringing to life Phillip’s over the top powers, but I can’t say that I prefer it to the more detailed drawings by Carlos Rodriguez in earlier issues. This is not meant to be seen as a flaw in the book but rather as an expression of which style I seem to prefer.
In The End: This is a very good read. The letters/column page promises a new Shadowhawk is going to be taking over next issue which contradicts the premise of the series which says Eddie will be the last. If there is indeed going to be a changing of the guard, then it will be intriguing to find out Eddie’s fate and how those around him deal with what comes next.
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