So. Comic books. As a kid I always thought that comic books were nerdy (back in the day when nerdy made you uncool). That those weird manga kids were in their own little world with their Goku’s and their Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. That comics had always and would always consist of super heroes and weird anime characters that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. But you grow, and you age, along with the industry and you realize that the world of comics is much more vast than you could ever imagine. I’m a budding comic geek. I’ll admit it. Right here, right now.
Recently I delved into the world of online comics. It’s huge, and slightly intimidating, but I found myself appreciating the interwebs that much more for providing people another platform to share their talents with the world. I’m an avid fan of Nerdist and the vast forms of media they produce. Specifically Bizarre States, which is where I first heard about Jessica Chobot’s newest endeavor into the comic book industry; Firebrand: The Initiation of Natali Presano.
The story begins with a young Natali struggling to find her place in her father’s newfound “little boxes” lifestyle; complete with politics, the wicked stepmother and all. Stuck in a shitty situation, Natali loses her cool and her father decides to cut ties with the youngster. Distraught, she decides to leave the safety of her human home to seek out her deceased mother’s magical sister, Selena. Little does she know, her Aunt is battling a much greater war. That’s where the story truly begins.
Firebrand hits fast forward, and Natali seems to have grown quite comfortably into her twenties. She’s strong, powerful and extremely rebellious. She’s also seen as royalty to her new clan. Returning to Seattle, Natalie is faced with a downtrodden world she barely recognizes and the dark mystic forces that are avidly attempting to destroy it.
Chobot teams up with writer Erika Lewis and artist Claudia Aguirre; (An all woman cast might I add.) to create this witty and fast paced web comic. Firebrand made it’s debut with LINE Webtoon and Legendary comics as a preview back in December 2016. As of now, the series is 9 chapters in and has web comic fans such as myself on the edge of our seats waiting for the next installment.
Natalie has a very 90’s heroine vibe about her, as does the overall theme of the story line thus far. Firebrand completes the concept with a misfit crew that includes; a long lost imaginary friend who’s much hotter than she remembered and a hot headed sidekick that thinks the main character pissed on her parade. Not to mention, a seedy relative that seems to always know best. These are tried and true tropes that most of us are already acclimated to, but they make the comic a comfy read.
The storytelling in Firebrand is a little muddy. I found myself wondering if I’d skipped a page when it came to understanding Natalie’s powers and the demons of this comic realm. The good news: she makes up for it with her ‘fuck it’ attitude and genuine naivety to the human world she once knew. The ancient world of witches is still very much a mystery, but the characters have real, relate-able qualities even though we are only grazing the surface of the series.
Magical forces and teen angst have always made a winning pair in my book. (Possibly because I always wished I was Kitty Pryde and could have a pet dragon of my very own.) I do understand that these concepts aren’t for everyone though, and if you’re one of those folks who’s never been a big fan of Buffy, I will say that this comic will not be your cup of mystic tea. However, if you’re a sucker for witches, secret ancient orders, and horny twenty somethings. (The vast majority of the public), then give Firebrand: The Initiation of Natalie Presano a shot. It’s been worth reading in the minuscule moment I get to hoard for myself.
You can find Firebrand on LINE Webtoons for FREE!
Also be sure to check out Bizarre States!