(This review may contain spoilers for the story content.)
Introduction: As indicated in the title, this comic book review is on The Last Ember #0, published by Last Ember Press. The issue is the first of an ongoing title that is the flagship series of the publisher. The book is co-plotted by Brant Fowler and John Wilson, with Fowler also writing the script and heading letters. The pencils and inks are both done by Rudi Supicito and Lisa Moore was in charge of colors. Last Ember Press’ founders came up with The Last Ember after being inspired by the company logo they had just created.
I stumbled upon The Last Ember #0 at a comic con I visited a little over a year ago. I personally enjoy supporting independent publishers / indie comics, and given my heated passion for young protagonists, the blazing character Ember kindled my interest (puns intended). Now that I have begun this blog, I felt that spotlighting this comic would be an effective way to both review a comic featuring a young character and support an independent publisher. I enjoyed the work, and this review shall explain why.
Plot Summary: The first half of the book is set many centuries in the past and shows a girl named Ashley and her little siblings Anton and Abby as they rush to see a puppet show. On their way to the show, some hooligan men harass and threaten Ashley. She tells them to leave her alone, but when they start to hurt her brother, Ashley lights up and unleashes a barrage of flame at them—to the surprise of Anton and Abby. The ruffians run away, but they rile up a mob to chase her, leading Ashley to unintentionally create a forest fire.
Afterward, the book shifts into present-day Ocean City, Maryland, and focuses on teenage girl Ember Madison. Ember is called down from her upstairs bedroom for dinner but gets a phone call invite to hang out with her friends as she is coming down. After gaining permission, Ember goes out, but when she parts from her friends to meet her curfew, some guys harass and try to have their way with her. Ember retaliates in anger and suddenly, to her own surprise, her inner furnace comes to the surface as she becomes surrounded by flames.
Plot Analysis: Fowler and Wilson cleverly split the issue into two parallel stories, one with the titular character Ember in the present and one with Ember’s ancestor in the past. Ashley’s story establishes these mysterious fiery abilities, whereas Ember’s story shows how the power has been passed down to the present. As these two stories progress within the book (as an editorial note at the end of the issue indicates will occur), I look forward to seeing how the stories evolve. Based on this issue #0, the book seems to use these two stories for different purposes while tying them together. If the issue had only included Ember’s sudden development of pyrokinetic abilities, something would have been missing. The flashback tale provided a sense of history to these abilities. And I look forward to how future issues will flesh out the origins for these abilities in Ashley’s past tale while Ember’s present tale reveals how those past events are relevant to what Ember experiences. Sometimes a story is given, and a later story will serve as a prequel or sequel. The Last Ember does both at once, and the dynamic is fun and refreshing.
Characterization: Fowler’s characters show personality, even in the limited amount of pages issue #0 had—which I find duly impressive. Ashley shows strength of character in how she aims to defend her younger siblings. Meanwhile, the leader character, Ember, in particular acts like a teenage girl in a number of ways (which is good, since she is). She is snarky to her little brother and gives the classic, “Mom! Don’t you knock?” Meanwhile, she excitedly hugs her mom when she is allowed to go out with her friends. Despite being a somewhat sassy teenager, Ember also respects her parents enough to try meet her curfew. She seems to be a well-rounded protagonist, and I look forward to seeing her development.
Art: I have a limited understanding of art, but I certainly know when I find it pleasing. And everything about The Last Ember‘s art highly appeals to me. I love Rudi Supicito’s pencils and inks. The characters are drawn with a great amount of detail, including their faces and clothes. Ember and Ashley are both beautiful, and the art helps push their status as protagonists by making them so distinctive. With a book about abilities such as fire, though, the colors are really important. Lisa Moore’s choice of colors makes each page vibrant. She uses contrasting colors to help the focus(es) of each panel stand out in a very pleasant way.
Final Remarks: Issue #0 was a great start/preview of what is to come with The Last Ember. While the issue itself did a suitable job setting up the series, what has made me more excited for the title is the editorial notes at the end of the issue that give a little bit more information about the lore behind the “Emberverse.” Brant Fowler discloses that Ember Madison is a half-Caucasian, half-Indian teenage girl who is the most recent inheritor of a power that has been passed down for generations. Fowler explains that Ember’s powers will connect to figures from multiple mythologies whose powers derive from fire/the sun, like Ekhi, Shapash, Ra, and Xihe. Fowler writes, “[The Last Ember is] a wondrous place of incredible abilities, magic, fantasy, action, drama, and fun.” Given all of this build-up, I look forward to issue #1, which is still in the works.
Closing: I know I have said a lot about this story, and I hope you have enjoyed what you have read. If you have any thoughts on the comic or on my review, feel free to comment below. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have an amazing day.