Ignited #1 Review - It's Not Offensively Bad, It's Just Bad
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
• John Cassaday (Variant) • Buy it (Dont)
The last video I made was about Ignited. The first offering by indie publisher H1. Ignited is written by Mark Waid in collaboration with Kwanza Osajyefo.
I wasn't too keen on the idea of a comic that uses school shootings as the launchpad for a superhero story. Being objective though, most of the clickbaity articles and videos online made the concept seem a lot worse than the book actually portrays the idea.
Is Ignited bad? Yes, yes it is. Is the comic outright horrible? That will depend on your political leanings and what you consider entertainment when it comes to comic books.
Ignited falls into a couple of traps that prevented me from enjoying it and most of it had nothing to do with the basic premise.
The first problem I had immediately was the bland ass cover. If Karen's potato salad had a comic book cover equivalent it would be this one. What's even worse is that one of the covers is by John Cassaday, one of my favorite artists.
Marvel gets away with bland pin-up covers because it's Marvel. The characters sell the book. Ignited isn't an established IP. Having a bland ho-hum cover that tells you nothing about what the series is about is unacceptable. In fact, I walked past the book 3 times before finally seeing it on the shelf.
With the covers being shockingly terrible, the only thing the book has to sell itself on is a divisive premise and the creative team. Mark and Kawanza are both very divisive creators. This further splits the fanbase and potential audience for this book. If you aren't already fans of the creators, and you aren't offended by books capitalizing on school shootings than I guess this is the book for you.
Getting into the meat of the comic, the school shooting is not the inciting incident. People all over the world are getting superpowers for some reason.
I forget the creator that said it but paraphrasing, The X-men was one of the laziest ideas ever because rather than come up with an origin for its characters. The creative teams could always fall back on the characters just being born differently. I love the X-men but I understand the complaint.
Ignited takes it a step further, the characters have powers because... Trump became president.
Just Kidding but there isn't a compelling reason for the kids to have powers, they just do.
The next problem with the book is that the comic is going to be decompressed. I just reviewed Doug TenNapel's BigFoot Bill and one of the key areas I praised it was for telling a concise story with a beginning, middle and end point.
Ignited feels like it should be either a graphic novel or maxi-series at best. This is not a strong enough idea to warrant anything more than a couple of story arcs.
The story is told in flashbacks. At one point in the issue we see the characters in the present using their powers, but the bulk of the issue is set in the past to presumably give our characters an origin.
There is nothing wrong with an origin story especially for new characters, but it's very annoying when Issue #1 ends and we're still setting up the series. This is one of the biggest problems I have with the industry right now. Comics are way too expensive to be this uneventful.
The political angle is also too on the nose and hurts the book. The politics of the story is why I'm not picking up Ignited #2. The comic opens with an Alex Jones stand-in claiming that the school shooting was a hoax.
The idea was offensive in real life and it just feels just as uncomfortable to read in comic form. Not because it's offensive but because it's cringy AF that the creators would go there.
Alex Jones has been de-platformed in real life for his stupid remarks. He was also nearly universally condemned for his statements. In the comic, the lead characters actually blow the guy's house up. It's supposed to be a powerful opening statement about the characters but in reality, the sequence just feels awkward and villainous. In fact, the entire book feels awkward.
There isn't much action in the book and the narrative isn't nuanced at all. If you're a left-leaning comic fan or a gun control advocate, I can see parts of the book resonating with you. Even then I can't see anyone getting entertainment value from this.
This is often the case with left-leaning books. It's the same with Nitehawk from Marvel or Bordertown from DC Vertigo. There are ideas that could work but fall apart because the stories place the need to push political propaganda over actually telling a good story.
I can't imagine a school shooting victim reading this and thinking hell yeah! this is empowering. It's not, and feels more tone deaf than anything.
A better Idea would have been to drop the fantastical elements altogether and have the kids work within the system to make lasting change. There were ways to make this idea work but Mark and Kawanza took the worst possible avenue they could come up with to tell this story.
The one positive aspect of the comic is the art from Phil Briones and Andrew Crossley. I'm not familiar with either of their work but the comic looks great at the very least. I'm interested in seeing more from them but even their work can't overcome the flaws in the premise and the execution of Ignited. This is the last 3.99 that this series will get from me.