Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Agustin Alessio
Release Date: 11th February, 2015
After sixteen stunning issues, we finally reach the conclusion of Dark Horse’s epic Fire and Stone event. While the chronology has sometimes felt a little jumbled due to the release schedule, all the pieces have finally been nudged into position, leaving it to acclaimed writer Kelly Sue DeConnick to stick the landing. So, with expectations running extremely high (for me, at least) and a heck of a lot of ground to cover in this final forty-four page double sized issue, a simple question has to be asked – does she manage it?
Like there was ever any doubt.
This issue serves as a perfect microcosm of all the things that have made this entire Fire and Stone event such a joy to read so far; intriguing new characters inserted into already-established worlds, and a heady blend of all-out carnage and quiet, thoughtful contemplation.
Angela Foster takes centre stage here, rallying the remaining survivors in their one last-gasp attempt to escape LV-223. With the focus shifting squarely onto her, the true extent of her journey throughout the course of this event is brought to the fore – the guilt she feels at the lives her actions have cost, and her burning desire to do what it takes to gain any small sliver of redemption. It’s truly stirring stuff, and really gives the finale a sense of purpose as sprints towards its dramatic conclusion.
After several half-hearted attempts at gaining his own form of redemption, Galgo finally gets his moment to shine here, rising to the occasion and eventually crossing the line – for me, at least – from mild irritant to actually likeable protagonist. Elden and Ahab also continue to shine in their own polar opposite ways, giving this issue a rich cast of characters to bounce off one another as the survivors are forced to work together in order to have any hope of escape.
Agustin Alessio provides the artwork here, giving this issue yet another distinctive visual style; something that has become a bit of a hallmark of the Fire and Stone event so far. More ‘realistic’ than some of the previous artists, his work still manages to capture the frenzied horror of the situation, even if the occasional facial expression can look a little… well… blank. His work really shines in the action sequences though, including one particularly frantic melee which showcases all of the key characters at their absolute finest.
My only real criticism here is that I found myself wanting more. More of these characters. More of a conclusion. Don’t get me wrong, the final pages are almost poetic in their execution, with a straightforward message that concisely sums up the entire event, but I couldn’t help but feel a longing for a more clear-cut parting shot. Not a ‘happy ending’, necessarily, but just… something more. Which, if you think about it, is actually a glowing testament to the investment I’ve built up over the last sixteen issues in these truly fascinating characters.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this shared universe is resurrected somewhere down the line, but for the time being, Fire and Stone has to be seen as an overwhelming success for the entire creative team involved, as well as proof that – providing they’re done right – licensed properties can be just as worthy as any other comic medium. If not more so.
Don’t forget to check out our Dark Horse: Fire & Stone Review and Interview Hub for all our coverage of this momentous event in one place.
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