The Hotshot comic book series is set within Columbus, Ohio and exists within the same universe as its sister series Vigilance. The first few issues serve as an introduction to its titular hero, with a particular focus on his struggle to balance his crimefighting responsibilities alongside his personal relationships.
Hotshot’s true identity is a young man named Michael Watson. The first few issues document his fight to save his city from a new threat, while also devoting time to his relationship troubles with his girlfriend Carla.
Like many superheroes before him, Michael chooses to keep his alternate identity a secret from his significant other, which quickly deteriorates their relationship. On the same day that Carla asks to breakup, a villain with telekinetic abilities emerges in the streets of downtown Columbus. This new villain quickly takes control of the general populace, his minions all chanting the words: “make way for my darkness, I will extinguish your light.”
Later issues fill in some previously unknown details regarding Hotshot’s backstory, particularly regarding his origin. The prequel issue is an interesting experiment in presenting two stories without dialogue: one depicting a date gone wrong between Michael and Carla, and the other revealing how Hotshot received his costume.
Compared to other heroes of the same universe, Hotshot has a more grounded, laidback personality. His sense of humor best shines in his interactions with the villain. However, in these early issues, he spends much of the time outside his suit in a more morose state, anguishing over his tumultuous relationship with Carla.
The very first scene we see of Michael and Carla is of the two of them breaking up. The subsequent issues confirm the main reason for their split: the secret of Michael’s double life eroded Carla’s trust in him. Because the readers are offered few glimpses into what the two of them were like before the breakup, it is difficult to become emotionally invested in the fate of their relationship. These first few issues also lack scenes depicting Michael and Carla’s happier moments, and so there is little explanation for why these two were attracted to one another in the first place.
Likewise, the story might have benefitted from revealing more of what Michael is like as a person before jumping into the action; for instance, his friends, his responsibilities as an art student, and what his day-to-day life is like outside of his problems with Carla.
That said, Hotshot still has much to offer outside of its romantic woes. The action scenes are fun, colorful, and kinetic. The villain is appropriately menacing and mysterious. Hotshot’s interactions with Vigilance, and the obvious mutual respect between them, are a highlight of the series.
Hopefully the issues addressed above, most especially the rut that Michael and Carla find themselves in, will turn out to be a turbulent blip on an otherwise enjoyable adventure.