Sporting a cover that is more of advertisement for the Cartoon Network original movie than it is an image relevant to the internal story, Phil Hester’s and Andy Kuhn’s “Firebreather” embarks on its third story. As with the previous stories, this issue brings teen angst, high school drama, and giant monster adventure.
Burdened with a secret that he can’t even share with his mom, Duncan returns to his “normal” life. The problem is, his normal life is tumbling like a house of cards and Duncan is flailing, trying to figure out what’s happening, why, and how best to cope with it. We’ve all been there, either as high schoolers, college students, or adults. Duncan is a properly relatable character even though his dad’s a Godzilla-level threat.
Beyond the secret, there are slivers (and some larger than sliver notions, such as Belloc’s whereabouts) in this issue that reference the previous adventures of Duncan Rosenblatt, but this issue is mostly a well-timed, carefully mapped out jumping on spot for new readers who discovered Duncan on the small screen and are interested in more. This issue contains echoes from the movie as well, with Kenny and Duncan vexed by Troy and his jock crew.
Hester and Kuhn deliver a summary inside the front cover that allows this comic to hit the ground running. The story flows cover to cover, thirty-two pages without any advertisements to interrupt the flow. Hester and Kuhn fill the story with a broad collection of very human characters, and the endpoint of this issue has Duncan placed on a new road. I’m keen to find out how Duncan balances his new status with the crumbling problems from his life.
Visually diverse from the CGI style of the cartoon, Kuhn’s art is stark, but energetic, like the doodles from a notebook margin given life and room to grow. Kuhn doesn’t saturate the story with details. There are more panels without any background whatsoever than those with background and Kuhn uses those to drive home the emotions his characters are living through. It helps that Crabtree’s colors are bright and unapologetic, much like Duncan’s world. The overall visual vibe of this story is loud and rough, which is appropriate for monster stories, teenage drama stories, or a delicate blend of both.
“Firebreather” continues to deliver every time Hester and Kuhn collaborate, and this time out is no exception. If you enjoyed the “Firebreather” movie, or have no clue what “Firebreather” is all about, but just happen to be looking for something new, Hester and Kuhn have just what you need.