Creator, Writer, Penciller: Joe Martino

Inker: Peter Palmiotti

Colorist: Dash Martin (#1) Ian Sokoliwski (#2)

Letterer: Johnny Lowe

Publisher: Arcana Studios

Like most of you, I made my way to my local comic book store for Free Comic Book Day, and while there I met and chatted with triple-threat comic book creator, writer and penciller, Joe Martino, the mind and talent behind Shadowflame and Ripperman.

A four part series, Shadowflame follows the story of New York City cop Tom Wyatt and his transformation into the superhero known as Shadowflame. The story starts with Wyatt’s emotional decline after losing his wife during a burglary while he was out working late. Broken,  guilt ridden, and ashamed that he couldn’t even protect his own wife, Wyatt points a gun at his head and pulls the trigger. He opens his eyes, and instead of heaven and eternity with his late wife, he finds himself transported into outer space by a species of alien that call themselves the Holy Men of Zakraan. They are a peaceful society and holders of the flame of Isht. Their long dead planet was destroyed by the corrupt and violent ways of a third Holy Man, Maldestrak, who believed himself to be a God whose destiny it was to rule over the weak. As pacifists, the Zakraan Holy Men would not fight Maldestrak; instead, they sought a warrior that came from a long line of noble fighters to be gifted with the flame of Isht. Tom is that warrior, and after a painful transfusion, he gains the power of flight, super strength, and invincibility. “You are a force of nature. A force of good. Now and forevermore, you are Shadowflame.”

Embracing his new power and his new identity, Tom dedicates his time to keeping the streets clear of muggers and punks. On his first night, Shadowflame severely ticks off the nephew of a mafia boss after prying him off a young woman he was harassing. As punishment, said mafia boss Don Baltenetti sends the Electrocutioner after Shadowflame. Before Tom could knock out Electro, the battle is intervened by government agents Cyberine and Agent Napalm, old friends of Bobby Barnew before the accident that gave him his powers and transformed him into the Electrocutioner. Cyberine and Napalm take in Electro, freeing Shadowflame to go after Baltenetti. Tracking down some of Baltenetti’s thugs, he takes them out, sending word to the boss of Electrocutioner’s failure and Shadowflame’s beef with him. Issue two ends with Baltenetti’s announcement to go ahead with Project Atomico and Shadowflame receiving a kiss from the young lady he saved from Baltenetti’s crude nephew.

Although contemporary and filled with original characters, Shadowflame really captures the spirit and tone of well-known superhero comics in a city we all know and love. Despite Wyatt’s abilities, he doesn’t consider himself a hero… yet. He’s a likable character who’s tough as nails but doesn’t lack heart. The art of Shadowflame is not just impressive, but also nostalgic of the golden age of superheroes and comic books, sporting men in colorful tights (excluding Shadowflame) with light shows displaying their powers and witty banter during their fights.

Look for a review of #3 and #4, Shadowflame’s finale, and stay Comic Booked!