Billy the Pyro #1 and #2’s titular character is an angry, sullen teen with a lot to feel angry and sullen about. Billy’s mother died giving birth to him, his father is an abusive alcoholic who blames his son for the loss of his wife, and the young man has been labeled “not normal” for so long that he barely comprehends the definition. One fateful night, Billy flees his rickety apartment after another fight and runs into an agent of a shady organization known as G.A.P.R.I. The encounter triggers Billy’s innate fire starting ability, a devastating surprise for a teen who just wants to be accepted.
While I commiserated with Billy’s situation in both issues, I found him a very frustrating, unsympathetic character at this point in the story. His hard shell is closed so tightly that even when people try to help him or offer explanations, the young man refuses to let them access his surface layers. As a result, it was hard to give myself wholeheartedly to Billy’s story, because I wanted to see more growth than was possible in a scant fifty or so pages. Simultaneously, I was fascinated by the genetic manipulation that led to Billy’s abilities and the hint that his mother may also have harbored latent pyrokinetic skills. I wanted to see more about G.A.P.R.I. and its research, as well as more background on what led to Billy’s mother’s death. On that level, the comic got me hooked, because while Billy didn’t inspire strong interest, the story around him had me hooked the minute I recognized gene manipulation as a plot point.
The artwork for Billy the Pyro is fairly simplistic, but the fire effects when Billy begins to combust drew my eye to the page and kept me plugged into the story. The backgrounds are very plain and without many details, but the setting is secondary to the story. By leaving most of the surrounding areas flat, Billy and his struggles easily take center stage rather than being overshadowed by the intensity of the scenery.
Personally, I would wait for the trade to become available for Billy the Pyro or more issues to be released, so I could get the more of Billy’s evolution in one go, but more patient readers may better appreciate the individual comics. If you like stories with characters who are teetering between a transformation into superhero or supervillain, Billy is definitely for you! The disturbed teen will face some major life choices as he learns more about his mysterious abilities!
4 Negative Reactions to Authority Figures or Adults out of 5