Comics Features

REVIEW: Billy the Pyro Volume One – Kickstarter Launch

Written by Patrick Smith

Billy the Pyro is a not so normal coming of age story of an adolescent teenager having to deal with his abusive and troubled life. That’s all about to change as Billy soon discovers he has been genetically altered by a government research institute to be able to produce and control the element of fire. Left with even more questions, Billy must learn to cope with his newfound ability, and struggles to put his past behind him as he discovers who he really is and his purpose in life.

In issues #1 and #2, we learn a lot about Billy. He’s not your classic teenaged hero by any means. He’s not particularly likeable, for a start. He’s short-tempered and disruptive and well able to display some serious attitude. Yet, one quickly realises that he isn’t some surly, spoilt upstart in need of a thick ear. He’s genuinely troubled. He’s grown up in a very tough neighbourhood. His greatest disadvantage is he’s lumbered with an utterly unsupportive, alcoholic father.

As the story progresses, Brad Burdick does a fine job of realising the complexities of Billy’s character. There’s a real ongoing effort to distinguish Billy from your more obvious classic comic-book adolescents and it certainly makes for a more satisfying read. You can read a more detailed review of Billy the Pyro #1 and #2, here.

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Fabian Cobos’ art has been considered and enterprising from the start. There’s a brio to his action scenes. They’re frenetic, almost chaotic, yet, on the page, there’s no confusion or any lack of readability. Cobos is equally comfortable expressing the necessary emotion from the more personal aspects of this tale. His style for Billy the Pyro has been established from page one and it is very enjoyable to witness his storytelling develop.

Another essential ingredient of this series is the dextrous and energised colouring talent of Eddy Swann. To give you a sense of the ‘flavours’ he delivers, Billy the Pyro #1 is appropriately, somewhat grim, smeared with the grease of urban depravation. Issue 2 has much more contrast, deep, rich blacks, rudely torn asunder as Billy’s fiery powers are more liberally displayed. With #3, as we learn and see more of G.A.P.R.I, there’s the liberty to play with photo electronic hues, fluorescent reds and synthetic greens, reflecting all the joys of the technology and toys at their disposal.

With Billy the Pyro #3, the tale has moved on apace. Billy’s extraordinary abilities are in full manifest and he is rapidly developing his adeptness in manipulating his combustible energies. At this point the storytellers take the opportunity to reveal more about the clandestine organisation, G.A.P.R.I.. Billy’s explosive talents could prove to be an asset or a threat and they regard it as in their interests to mentor him, and lead him along the right path. Whatever that may actually be.

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Billy’s reactions to their training methodologies, not to mention some of the required attire are refreshingly irreverent and fun, and are at this point, exactly what you’d expect from him. Billy’s personality now reads as fully-fledged and that’s no mean feat, third issue in. Burdick does a fine job of adding layers of opacity to the objectives and motives of this obscure institution and its members. Billy, neither in the past or present, has much of a reason to trust anyone in particular. Equally he clearly feels he has nothing to lose, so is quite happy to play along for his own immediate benefit.

There are some more positive notes struck here for Billy. He’s managing to develop a friendship, which may well stand him in good stead when it comes to honing his powers, along with controlling his temper. He is eager to learn how he got to be this way and if G.A.P.R.I. is the route to knowledge, then so be it. Undoubtedly, conflict lies ahead of him and the anxiety lies in wondering whether he will be up to the challenge or if he’s set on a path to destruction.

I expect much to be revealed in Billy the Pyro #4, and to find out more you can take a browse here. However, a more ideal manner in which to read and enjoy this tale is to avail yourselves of the forthcoming collection of the first four issues. Brad Burdick is launching his first Kickstarter project to get this collection into print. The book looks very fine indeed, so do yourselves a favour and have a good look.

About the author

Patrick Smith