Ruben Kwan is a 50-year-old firefighter who’s been afraid of fire his whole life. Instead of running into burning buildings, he pushes papers, living in the shadow of his father—who died a hero on the job. After 25 years in the LAFD, he’s firmly in the middle of an unremarkable life. That is until his new wife gets pregnant and a random act of courage reveals that Ruben is FIREPROOF! Midlife (or How to Hero at Fifty!) #1 kicks off a new superhero adventure. But, this is one for the Gen X generation and hits really close to home.
Written by Brian Buccellato, Midlife (or How to Hero at Fifty!) #1 is a solid opening chapter. But, it’s not the heroics or the potential of what might come as far as that, that stands out. It’s Ruben and his life in general. Midlife (or How to Hero at Fifty!) #1 delivers a comic that’s so easy to relate to. It features a main character we don’t aspire to be, it’s a main character may of us are.
Buccellato mines his own life and those around him for the series and in doing so just nails the Gen X/Lost Generation/Unsung Generation perfectly. Ruben is a person who seems to be a decent guy. His life hasn’t gone as he pictured it or wanted and he’s now turning 50 and not just looking back at what was but trying to figure out what’s to come. In my mid-40s, I can say I’m doing the same. Unlike Ruben, I have no intention or need to start things fresh but there’s a point you reflect on your life and it’s Gen X’s turn to figure out their latchkey upbringing. For those around my age, it’s easy to connect with Ruben and through that the comic delivers a grounded start that sucks you in. Because you can relate, you can then imagine and go with the possibilities to come.
Buccellato also makes Ruben a bit more interesting based on what’s revealed. It’s not really a spoiler since it’s everywhere but we find out that he’s fireproof. Out of all the powers, that and invulnerability feel like they’d be the most appropriate for Gen X. We’re a generation who were on our own and figured things out. We patched ourselves up and generally are just a hardened group in a lot of ways. To not have fire hurt Ruben feels appropriate because as the world burns, we’re the generation just plodding along doing our thing as we always have.
The art by Stefano Simeone is solid. The emotion delivered by the characters feels real and the lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou emphasizes every bit of dialogue. From the facial expressions to the body language, you really get a sense of how each character is feeling. Whether it’s a bit worked up about something, angry, or just depressed, the physical body language tells so much of the details. It’s great work that helps connect readers to the characters.
I love Midlife (or How to Hero at Fifty!) #1. It’s a hell of a debut that delivers a hero we can relate to and at 50, a hero we don’t see often enough. Gen X might have grown up on comics, but Midlife (or How to Hero at Fifty!) #1 is one that might just be “our” comic.
Story: Brian Buccellato Art: Stefano Simeone
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou Designer: Tim Daniel
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review