Book Review: Dark Spaces: Wildfire

“Dark Spaces: Wildfire”

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Hayden Sherman
Color Artist: Ronda Pattison
Letterer: AndWorld Design
Published by IDW

Review by Steve J. Ray

I’m one of those people that loves surprises. This week I got one of the best ever, in the form of Dark Spaces: Wildfire.  This recently completed five-issue mini-series features one of the best stories I’ve read this year. It was created by one of the best (and nicest) writers on the planet, along with an art team that has pulled together to create something so fresh and original, that It's left me craving more.

Here's the synopsis, from Penguin Random House:

"Legendary writer Scott Snyder presents DARK SPACES - a thrilling new anthology series exploring our deepest fears of the unknown, beginning in the smoldering hills of California in DARK SPACES: WILDFIRE!

Six weeks into the slow burn of the historic Arroyo Fire, a crew of women from an inmate firefighting program are risking everything on the frontlines, when their newest recruit - a white-collar convict with a deep network of shady dealers - discovers they’re mere miles from her crooked former associate’s abandoned mansion. When she proposes a plan to abandon their duties and hunt for riches under cover of smoke and ash, the team must decide if they’re ready to jeopardize their one sure path back to normalcy for a shot at a score that would truly change their lives…but is this a flicker of fortune, or a deadly trap?

Scott Snyder and breakout artist Hayden Sherman craft an unforgettable heist for a new age in DARK SPACES: WILDFIRE, a collection of the five-issue debut of Scott Snyder’s DARK SPACES anthology!"

I’ve had the distinct privilege of interviewing Scott Snyder twice, most recently at the 2022 Thought Bubble convention. He is a man who loves his craft, his fans, and the comic book business as a whole. While he's primarily known for writing dark fantasy, horror, and a few stories about a certain Caped Crusader, Dark Spaces: Wildfire is unlike any Scott Snyder story I’ve read before. First of all, there are no monsters, no aliens, and no super-powered, spandex-clad, musclebound heroes in sight. What we do have is five women who feel, act, and speak like real, honest-to-goodness human beings. It's wonderful.

I’m also a huge fan of Hayden Sherman, having fallen in love with their work on the sublime sci-fi series, Wasted Space. When I heard that this new story would be a collaboration between Hayden and Scott I knew I’d be getting a brilliantly written tale that would also look fantastic. What I wasn’t expecting was that the art in Wildfire is also unlike any Hayden Sherman art I’d seen before. Once again, we’re getting work from an artist that I hugely admire, but it’s also new, fresh, and nothing like what I’d seen from them previously.

Throw in some gorgeous color work by Ronda (TMNT!) Pattison and letters by industry giant, AndWorld Design, and what we get is a cinematic crime thriller, featuring some of the best characters ever.

Picture five inmates, a team of women fighting fires. They’re prisoners working for next to nothing, putting their lives on the line, and trying to make a difference, when an opportunity arises that could change their fates forever. This story has a ton of action, brilliant dialogue, and a cast of characters to rival a Hollywood blockbuster. These women are brave, loyal, and heroic, but some of them have pasts and secrets which come back to burn them all… quite literally. This is a story about camaraderie, crime, and a fight for survival.


The one problem I have with this collected edition is that it was so good that I devoured it all in one sitting. This does the story an injustice. I really wish I’d known about this series earlier and read it as it came out, episodically. While that's not usually how I like to read comics, (I frequently wait until a mini-series ends before I read it) I do know that, because the individual chapters all contain some of the best cliffhangers ever, reading this series monthly would’ve been torture. However, the twists, the payoff, and the character development work better when they have a chance to sink in.

Please, don’t misunderstand me, though. When this book comes out in May 2023 I’m buying a copy, and I strongly urge everyone out there to do the same. What I will ask you to do though, is not to read it all in one sitting as I did. This will be hard, because it’s a real page-turner, but the effect will be a lot better if you try to just read a chapter a day.

Conclusion

Dark Spaces: Wildfire is a fantastic piece of work. I fell in love with these characters and would love to read more about them. Yes, this story is completely self-contained, and you don’t need to read anything before or after it, although I’m sure you’ll want to. There's scope for a follow-up too, and I’d love to meet all these ladies again. That’s the sign of a story well told.

This book has a brilliant premise, solid characters, and gorgeous art, and it will stand up to multiple re-reads. In fact, it’s so good that I’d like a movie adaptation and a sequel, please.

This is an action-adventure/drama/heist caper like no other. Highly recommended.


Paperback | $14.99
Published by IDW Publishing and distributed by Penguin Random House
May 09, 2023 | 160 Pages | 6-5/8 x 10-3/16 | ISBN 9781684059614

Images and review copy courtesy of IDW, Scandal Co-Active, and the creative team

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