Review: Zahra: The Shadow Flame #1

Families usually hide family secrets like hidden treasures, as some of those secrets were hidden for a reason in the first place. As when family members find out the truth behind what they considered facts, one of two feelings usually overwhelm the individual. The first one is genuine surprise, where you get overwhelmed with the novelty of the news. The second and most probable reaction, is betrayal, as they feel the need to lie to the family members for some unforeseen reasons.

In real life, Jack Nicholson, found out that the woman he thought was his sister, was actually his mother. This very story was told on a current storyline in the new show, Mayans MC, where one of the club members finally reveals to a girl who was raised as his sister, to be his daughter. Some family secrets are sometimes too much for those affected to ever know. In the debut issue of Zahra The Shadow Flame, we find one young lady coming to grips with what she just found about who she will become and her family’s powers.

We meet Zahra Darwesh, a young lady, who has a rather unusual but mystical connection to fire, as she can manipulate flames like most people can bend straws, as she belongs to a long family line of powerful women with powers known as the Birthweepers. As the only child of a council member in a mythical country called United Arabia, as she struggles with being a teenage girl and hiding the secret of her powers. One day, a fire ignites at her school causing Zahra to leap into action, saving hundreds of girls, but catching the eye of local authorities. By issue’s end, the secrets her and her mother holds, destroys her family, revealing a loved one to be the true villain of the story and that her journey to self-discovery is only beginning.

Overall, an engaging story that reveals the dangers of anachronistic beliefs, the changing roles of power when it comes to gender and embracing who you really are is the only truth. The story by Baker-Johnson and Sindi, is full of twists, layered and action packed. The art by Tinto and Montrose, is gorgeous. Altogether, a stark and fresh take on the superhero origin story, one which is emblematic of the evils of sexism and that heroism is not only for those wearing capes.

Story: Kali Baker-Johnson and Rakan Sindi Art: Davide Tinto and Michelle Montrose
Story: 10 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy