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Best Of 2022: Dark Spaces Wildfire

Dark Spaces: Wildfire
Scott Snyder
Hayden Sherman
Ronda Pattison
Andworld Design
IDW

Dark Spaces: Wildfire blends action, suspense, and mystery in a story that follows five incarcerated women who make up Crew 513 of California’s Forestry Firefighters as they fight to do their part in containing an intense fire. Snyder’s script functions perfectly well as an action thriller but Snyder isn’t content to write that straight forward a script. Juxtaposing the action aspect is a blistering critique of the ways society exploits and abuses disadvantaged women through its judicial and penal systems. As tragic as these truths are, the storytelling medium requires compelling characters in order for the message to resonate with readers and that’s what Snyder and artist Hayden Sherman deliver with Ruby Ma Ning, Sawyer, Zinn, Ramos, and Brooks. Crew captain Ruby (AKA Ma) is also the mother figure. Having lost a young daughter, Ma is the glue that holds the women together and the women are what hold Ma together. Watching Ma’s character as she undergoes a crisis of conscience after a once in a lifetime opportunity presents itself is fascinating. It would’ve been a perfect crime except for…now that would be spoiling it for you!

Hayden Sherman and Ronda Pattison ramp up the psychological tension and emotional drama with their art. Looking at the line art it’s obvious Sherman enjoyed drawing this series. There’s ample proof of that in how the artist plays with perspective, scale, and page layouts. For example, in issue #3 several intricately laid out pages focusing on each of the Crew are followed by a full page splash drawn with a floor level vantage point that creates a claustrophobic feeling while making the women look like towering giants. The fact that this splash page reveals a plot point heightens the effect even more. No spoiler image here just in case! One might expect the coloring in a comic set against the backdrop of forest on fire to be dominated with a range of incandescent reds, oranges, and yellows. Ronda Pattison does make use of those bright hues while adding purples, blues, and greens in cool and warm tones both to evoke emotion and make the warm colors pop even more strongly. This insightful use of color makes for the perfect complement to Sherman’s art and the emotional tones of Snyder’s script.

At its heart Dark Spaces: Wildfire is a portrait of a found family and the lengths they’ll go to support each other and stay together.

Check your local comic shop for individual issues of the five parter or wait till May 2023 for the trade.

Bookshop
Indiebound
Amazon

January 11, 2023
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