Building on the foundation set in the first issue, this issue picks right back up with the next day (or so it seems) in the life of young Duncan Rosenblatt. It also happens to be his birthday. Saddled with cupcakes bearing his likeness, Duncan gets shuffled off to school by his "normal" mother. At the bus stop, however, Duncan pulls off a Spider-Man-like change of heart and decides to fly to school.
On his way, he is knocked from the sky by a mystery only barely hinted at in the pursuant pages of this issue. Getting his bearings, Duncan arrives at school, and the reader gets a brief snapshot into the people that Duncan the Teenager would call peers â€" Ken Rogers, Jenna Schwartzendruber, and Troy Adams.
The story is well-paced and smartly written, flipping between Duncan's two worlds â€"- the world of a "normal" teenager juxtaposed with the world of monsters that will soon come crashing down around him. Duncan's father, Belloc, receives some more time on-panel, deepening the canvas of the world beyond the walls of Duncan's suburban existence.
Kuhn delivers a solid collection of imagery, choosing between spare backdrops for heightened emotion, like Duncan's reaction to the cupcakes his mother hands him, and detailed imagery for impact and gravitas, as seen in the image calling out Holmgang â€"- the challenge of the monsters that Hester and Kuhn have described as coming up in this series.
Hester has the duty to make this an approachable series, while deepening the legend for longer-termed readers, and he performs this task well. If this issue were my first introduction to the character, however, I would have been left with a head-scratching moment or two. Keeping that in mind, this issue definitely slots in after issue #1, and readers would do well to grab both while the grabbing is good.
"Firebreather" takes the classic teen angst story a step further. What if Spider-Man's powers truly made him different in appearance AND ability? This book gives you a flavor for what that might have been like. Not only that, but what if Peter Parker's dad (or Uncle Ben) happened to be Fin Fang Foom? Therein lies the initial concept to the series. The fact that I'm making this leap speaks strongly of Hester and Kuhn's ability to make this a tale worthy of such comparison. This is a book with a bit of heat to it, showing a great deal of promise. With the announcement from Comic-Con International: San Diego that there would soon be a "Firebreather" cartoon, this series is only going to get hotter.