I’ve always been curious about Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn’s Firebreather comic from Image Comics. Published as a series of mini-series, the character has popped up in other image books, like The Pact, where he fought alongside Shadowhawk and Invincible. He seems to have a pretty sturdy following, and the concept, about a boy who’s half-human, half dragon has intrigued me. Still, for some unknown reason, I’ve just never gotten around to reading it.
Volume 3 just started on November 24th, the same day as the Cartoon Network premiere of an animated movie based on the original volume. Though I didn’t pick up the comic, I went ahead and checked out the animated movie. The animation in the commercials that I’d seen looked a little…television-level, but I figured it would be a good opportunity to see if the story would be worth checking out.
Firebreather starts off telling you about a war between humans and giant monsters, called Kaiju, led by Belloc, the king of the Kaiju. In order to stop the fighting, Margaret Rosenblatt agrees to marry to Belloc, and the unity of their marriage leads to Duncan. Not entirely sure how a human and 300-ft. dragon got it on, but the animated movie says it’s “actually pretty simple.” Yech! Anyway, Duncan is now a teenager, and trying to fit in at a new high school, where he befriends the usual misfit kids and falls for the homecoming queen.
Though Firebreather is kind of what you’d expect from a high school teenage superhero tale (at least in the movie, and, I’m guessing, the first volume), the movie is actually pretty great. It’s actually way better than I even expected. The story of Duncan trying to decide whether he will inherit the throne of the Kaiju, or try to live a normal teen life (as normal as a teen with orange skin and scales can have, anyway).
The animation of the movie actually came out stronger than the impression I got from the commercial. There’s a ton of action in this – fireballs and explosions and lots of gunfire, and it’s all beautifully rendered. Sure, it’s not necessarily Pixar-quality, but it’s pretty well done overall, and better than the usual animated fare. Though the story is standard fare, it’s genuinely appropriate for all ages, and interesting for every member of the family. You’ve got a love triangle, plenty of action and fantasy, and a whole lot of fun. Highly recommended you try to check it out on repeat viewings – I know I’ll be checking out the comics now.