Written by: Chris Cantwell
Art by: Adam Gorham
Colouring by: Kurt Michael Russell
Letters by: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Vault

This issue is about processing a traumatic experience, which we see from both versions of Sam. It also deals with how you want to let that experience change you: do you want to still be the person you were, or become someone else? In Sam’s case, it seems pretty clear he still wants to be the hero he’s being forced to leave behind. We see two scenes (one for each version of Sam) that demonstrate this fact. He might feel as though he’s broken but he is still The Blue Flame.

Sam decides he’s finally ready to face the facts and talk about what happened to him and the other members of The Night Brigade. On Earth it’s about moving forward from the attack and trying to rediscover himself, in space it’s about accepting what’s happened in the past and letting the trial begin. Along the way there are multiple moments in both sides of the narrative that serve as catalysts for the progress both versions of Sam need to make. There’s clear parallels between these moments and, honestly, it’s just really well constructed storytelling. Sure there’s been some confusing moments in the previous issues with the dual narratives, but with each passing issue we get a clearer picture of how everything is connected.

Adam Gorham’s panelling is one of the standouts from this issue; constantly changing to fit the scene, they have a tremendous effect on the dynamics of the storytelling. From painful memories resurfacing to incompleted sex scenes, the panel layout and style reflects the story being told. Gorham’s artwork in its entirety is great throughout. We’re not seeing the breathtaking spacescapes we got back at the start of the series, but the grittiness of Earth and the more classic superheroics we see on the cosmic end both work superbly. As always Kurt Michael Russell’s colouring adds plenty of depth to the artwork, creating clear divides between the two sides of the unfolding story.

At this point The Blue Flame is easily among my favourite series this year. I’m never entirely sure what to expect from an issue, but as the issues keep coming and the two versions of Sam grow closer together it’s becoming increasingly clear what the real message behind the book is. Or at least what I feel like the message is: that the things that happen to you don’t have to define you.

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