Review by Ian Keogh
There’s been considerable upheaval for the Johnson family, not least the remainder discovering Owen attended an advanced martial arts school in the Himalayas fifteen years previously where he learned to channel energy in the air to throw fireballs. He unknowingly began on the wrong side of an ideological conflict between two organisations, but that appeared to have been resolved when Flame War ended. Robert Kirkman, master storyteller that he is though, left a few loose ends remaining to be picked at.
The first of these is apparent at the start of Scorched Earth when it becomes obvious to Owen that no matter how excited his children may have been experiencing what they did, it’s left fears, and seemingly something else. Snakes played a part in the previous volume, and they manifest again, but that threat’s as nothing compared with Kellie’s wrath when she discovers what Owen’s been keeping from her.
When Fire Power began it seemed nothing more than homage on Kirkman’s part, but his combination of martial arts action and family drama is new and very different. The cast are constructed to be both ordinary and sympathetic, and there’s an authenticity about family life, which contrasts the martial arts exceptionally well. Of course, that contrast is so delicately supplied by Chris Samnee, who draws great scenes of everyday life and extraordinary scenes of martial arts action.
One great moment here concerns a legend previously dismissed as false, and how it comes to pass. It’s one of several fantastic cliffhanger chapter endings, somewhat the speciality of Kirkman, both here and on other series. This propels Scorched Earth at rocket pace, and as has been the case for the previous three volumes Owen’s starting point is very different from his end point. This has been hugely enjoyable, and sets up a major conflict in Flaming Fist, After this you’re not going to want to miss it.