Friday, April 6, 2012

GUNFIRE #2 - June 1994

On the Rebound
Credits: Len Wein (writer), Steve Erwin (penciler), Brian Garvey (inker), Bob Lappan (letterer), Martin Thomas (colorist)

Summary: Gunfire rescues Yvette from Ricochet, who’s ordered to abort the mission. The next day, Andrew van Horn is visited by a detective investigating the dead bodies found at the battle site. He directs Detective Rivera to his attorney, and soon leaves to investigate a break-in at a Van Horn warehouse. Once again, he defeats Ricochet and more of Slater’s men. However, he unwittingly keeps one of the men’s helmets, unaware it’s broadcasting to Slater. Slater uses the bug to learn of the location of the top-secret CDI weapon and sends Ricochet to JFK Airport to retrieve it. Gunfire arrives for a final battle that sends Ricochet into the Long Island Sound. Slater’s employer, Mr. Perggia, decides to oversee matters personally as the armored Purge.

Review: And I thought this book was trying to avoid clich├ęs. The structure of this comic -- resolve cliffhanger, let villain escape, set up a second confrontation with villain, let villain escape, wrap up with final battle that uses established plot device to defeat villain -- is about as tried and true a superhero formula you can find. Maybe it’s considered a novelty to attach this kind of a story to a ‘90s gun guy, but that’s a stretch. Even the revelation of the mystery plot device Slater is hunting (which was treated with a decent amount of humor last issue, since Gunfire had no idea what he was talking about) just whimpers out -- we discover it’s a “Cellular De-Integrator” (CDI) weapon, which means it melts people. Since this is a Code-approved book, most of the human melting occurs off-panel, and even if it didn’t, that would still be pretty tame during the days of Spawn.

So, what isn’t predictable about this issue? We discover that Yvette is actually Gunfire’s ex-girlfriend and not his current love interest. That does give her a slightly different role as the main female supporting cast member, I suppose. The audience also discovers what happens when Gunfire tries to use an actual “rifle” (drawn as a Liefeld gun) -- his powers cause the gunpowder to explode. So, he decides he’s better off using long, pointy objects to project his powers (why exactly is this book called Gunfire, again?). There’s also an attempt to deal with how exactly casualties work in a masked vigilante’s world. Gunfire is a “had no choice” killer, by nature of his powers. While most vigilantes can just leave their victims behind at the crime scene and never think of them again, Wein’s introduced the question of what happens when those bodies are discovered on the hero’s property. Van Horn tries to dismiss the problem by passing the detective off on his lawyer, but he can’t deny that he actually did kill these men and has some legal responsibility to face. I don’t know if this will produce a meaningful storyline, but it seems like the only promising concept in the issue.

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