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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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12/30/2007 Archived Entry: "Comics review: Heroes, Volume 1"

Heroes, Volume One
By Various authors and artists
Published by Wildstorm

Review by Allan Landow

The format of the entire comics collection was well done, indeed. If you recall, the whole TV series seemed to be based on a comic book style of genre, which was converted into some form of reality. However, one of the great faults of the TV series was that the gap was never bridged between the comic book fantasy and the so-called reality, in which our characters inter-acted in the every day world. The TV series focused on a little too much action-oriented activity, most likely in an effort to appease the tastes of our adrenaline addicted teens and young adults. This collection of comics delves much deeper. It takes us into the thinking of our characters and the deep psychological reasons for their actions. For the most part, it provides good background as well.

Chapter One: "Monsters":
Mohindar Suresh's past was brought out in very good detail; the way that the legacy was passed on from father to son. The differences in beliefs between science and religion melded together well, , as being two sides of the same coin. One criticism though: According to the TV series, Dr. Suresh Sr. did not consider Sylar to be his "patient zero." He was just one of many people on a list who may or may not possess special powers. Many before Sylar passed Dr. Suresh's tests, but Sylar himself had failed. Therefore, Sylar could not have been the "patient zero" who Suresh was seeking.

Chapter Two: "The Crane":
Hiro is always a delight to watch, whether in comic book form or as a gifted human, as portrayed on television. He possesses a certain goodness, which makes his abilities incidental to his humanity. In some ways, his resolve to control his abilities from overwhelming his humanity somehow makes him "more human." As was brought out in the comic, excellent symbolism is presented by drawing a parallel to the "Superman" comic book. Yes, Hiro is a lot like Superman;. Always searching for the greater good and always fighting for truth and justice- using his abilities to help others rather than to dominate them. The origami "Superman" comic cover was good symbolism of how Hiro merged his traditional values with his sense of duty.

Chapter Three: "Trial By Fire":
Very good chapter, which brought out the humanity of Nathan Petrelli. One major fault of the TV series was that it just took too long to show the good side of Nathan. Frankly, in the first half of last season, he came across as an opportunistic pompous, womanizing politician. The humor in this chapter was very well crafted, especially in the context of an upcoming election year. After Nathan had rescued the girl from the fire and her mother found one of Nathan's discarded election buttons, which was unintentionally left at the scene, she decided to change her political loyalties.

Chapter Four: "Aftermath":
Claire's Dilemma was brought out much better in this book,as compared with how it was dealt with in the TV series. The book's portrayal seemed to get to the point faster. The author got inside Claire's head. She was a young girl who just wanted to fit in as a normal teenager. She had powers, which she does not know how to deal with: Was it a blessing or a curse to be special? The comic presented both sides quite well. The TV series painted a very different picture of her in the first few episodes. She was portrayed as a reckless daredevil, who took foolish risks to see just how far she could get, as opposed to the book's presentation of a very "human" young lady who wanted to establish normalcy and balance, in the face of an unseeingly unsolvable set of problems.

Chapter Five: "Snapshots":
DL's situation was well explained. We finally found out how he got to become a fugitive. His love and concern for his family caused us to sympathexize with him, rather than to fear him as a dangerous psychopath. His powers had not changed who he was or his resolve to get back together again with his wife and son. Once again, the first few TV episodes of last season failed to give us such important background information.

Chapter Six: "Stolen Time":
Nikki/Jessica was brought out into the limelight. However, a noteworthy point that was not covered in the TV series was the fact that Jessica was not all evil. She basically had retained Nikki's love and concern for her son Micah. When asked what she would do with her share of the stolen money, she responded that she planned to put it to the use of financing her son's private school tuition. So, perhaps, a little bit of Nikki was safely stowed away somewhere in Jessica's subconscious.

Chapter Seven: "Control":
Matt Parkman's challenge was portrayed. As a man who could hear what people were thinking, he was subject to a lot of professional and personal torment. Finding out that his best friend and his wife were sleeping together through his mind reading abilities was, of course, the ultimate act of betrayal. Who could he trust anymore? He somehow didn't feel better off for knowing. He felt isolated and tormated. Such was accentuated in the TV series, as well. Professionally, a seemingly simple routine police chase could be intolerably challenging if one is able to mentally hear the turmoil of everything and everyone around him. How does he know how to center his focus? Such was portrayed more effectively in the book, as compared to the television show.

Chapter Eight: "Isaac's First Time":
Much better inner focus on the brilliant yet tortured painter Isaac Mendez, as compared to the TV series. I could sense his helplessness as he is able to see things before they happen, but is in no position to prevent them from happening. A perfect example is the case of the woman who was hit by the train. Isaac's painting gave her the knowledge of what was going to happen to her, but it was unable to enable either of them to stop the tragedy from occurring. It raises the question about fate in general. Is our knowledge of what would happen a factor in averting what is destined to occur? A definite and effective portrayal of helplessness. A hero's powers could only extend so far…

Chapter Nine: "Life Before Eden":
Very sad, but necessarily so. This particular segment did not focus on special effects or fantastic miraculous rescues. The main action was restricted to one room in a house. It brought out a good point about the origin of many problems in the real world: It all begins at home. In comparison to the all the other chapters, this one was the most powerful in its' message: A sad little girl who was constantly put down by a cold, over-bearing and manipulative stepmother. She was taught to be too scared to speak up for herself, as well as to blame herself for everything that was wrong in her family life, by a parent who was unable to give her the love that she needed. Perhaps years of conditioned repression was the preliminary factor which gave rise to her powers. Did the negative influences of society and environment turn her into the young woman who she grew up to be? For the first time, social factors were taken into consideration. Such a transcendence beyond the obvious heredity predispositions were impressively portrayed.

Chapter Ten: "Turning Point":
Disappointing. Lack of imagination. It was no secret that Sylar was an evil parasite who just focused on acquiring the powers of others. Parkman's ex-partner, Audrey hops on a train (literally) in a vain attempt to track down the superhuman power driven maniac. Hello!! Audrey is human. She has no powers. Why would she be able to hop on top of trains? Also, Sylar could of worn a more convincing disguise in an effort to "blend in." The "Kato" mask was a disappointment.

Chapter Eleven: "Fathers and Daughters":
Excellent portrayal of Noah Bennett, as he slowly treads the path to redemption. He was a man who has everything to lose: his career, his family, his adopted daughter-everything that he has worked so hard in his life to preserve. He knew that he was in the middle of a very corrupt situation and was inwardly torn about what to do to protect those who he loves. The scene in which Noah confronted another father who was the complete opposite of himself was very well done. The second man was uncaring and refused to take responsibility for anything related to his daughter's life. Even when Noah told him about his daughter's death, his response was repulsively shameful. He actually believed that whatever happened to her was her own fault. Noah's response was appropriately portrayed. After slamming the ignoramus against the side of his house, he instructed his Haitian assocate not to erase everything, but to leave the guilt. I couldn't think of a more appropriate punishment… Once again, here was another chapter that needed very few fanciful effects to get its' message across. The main action took place as a conversation between the two fathers. So much was said in those few pages; things which the television series had never brought to life. Very well done !!

Chapter 12: "Superheroics":
I didn't quite understand the meaning of this chapter. Was Peter Petrelli having a dream? Was it a foreshadowing of something to come? Very many questions, few answers…

Chapter 13-16; "Wireless":
Hana Gitelman's story was brought to the surface. Her background was very finely detailed . The tragic deaths of her mother and grandmother, in a terrorist bus bombing were definitely powerful factors in explaining the angry spirit of this hero. Hana felt the obligation to carry on the freedom fighting work that was started by the loved matriarchal figures who were abruptly taken from her, while she was just a little girl. The appearance of Noah Bennett in her life seemed to provide a sense of direction for her in one way or another. Although at that point, both were unaware of the corruption behind the company that Noah worked for, it brought those two central figures together in an effective and convincing manner. Hence, the message was conveyed that sometimes good alliances could come from misguided loyalties. Well done !!
In Part 2": Hana's powers over internet communication were fully manifested. She did well as an agent for "the company, " although she seemed a little too trusting. A lady who had all the powers of the worldwide web at her fingertips did not seem to do enough to find out more about the agency that she worked for. It actually seemed unrealistic that she would be so trusting, especially considering how her mother and grandmother were treated.
In Parts 3 and 4: Hana continued on her mission, although she found out that her mentor was not being honest with her. It was interesting to see how quickly she could adapt to changing her identity. Her need for revenge seemed more important than any sense of loyalty that she might have had to anyone or anything. The idea was well conveyed.

Chapter 17and 18: "How do you stop an exploding man?"
Part one: The introduction to Theodore Sprague's story. His sense of depression and guilt were effectively portrayed in the first few pages. The challenge of wanting to have a normal life, but being unable to do so was powerfully brought out to us. The illustrations were effective in portraying the man's tortured soul. He blamed himself for his wife's death. The heavy burden of carrying such guilt around with him was shown effectively throughtout the chapter. Hana Gitlelman appeared to him, as a kindred spirit. She was a good contrast to him to the extent that she had learned to channel her powers into well focused anger and revenge. Ted displayed more fear than anger. He was shown as being afraid to "let the genie out of the bottle," not wanting to unleash whatever degree of harm he was capable of causing mankind. Well done!!
Part 2: Not very effective. The mysterious man who captured Ted remained as a mystery. His motives, identity and purpose remained a mystery that was never explained.

Chapter 19: "Bully":
Very good combination of humor and irony. Most young children who were victims of school yard pranksters could no doubt relate well to this chapter. Young Micah is faced with such a challenge. He showed courage in confronting the classmates who tried to embarrass his mother on-line. Micah showed good and creative use of his powers by giving the bullies a taste of their own medicine. A good example for modern youth.

Chapter 20: "Road kill":
Another chapter about Sylar's evil crusades. It seemed that the book portrayed him as being more evil than the TV series. A pointless murder of a truck driver who had no powers for him to absorb was just a little "over the top."

Chapter 21: "The Path To Righteousness" :
Hana Gitelman's new outfit- the tight leather blouse, pants and boots was just a little too stereotypical for a vigilante, who wanted to blend into the background.

Chapter 22: "Hell's Angel":
Excellent portrayal of Noah Bennet's conflict. His loyalty to the evil company that he worked for, was contrasted with his fatherly love for his step-daughter. Somehow the book's portrayal seemed to be more touching than any such scenes in the TV show. The artistry which showed the look on Noah's face as he rescued helpless baby Claire from the fire, showed that he had experienced a true and definite turning point in his life.

Chapter 23: "Family Man:":
Powerful story of fatherly love. Noah used all the tools at his command in an effort to protect his beloved daughter. His idea to contact Hana for assistance was a good attempt to initiate outside help. However, Hana's ability to "forgive and forget" seemed a little bit beyond belief, considering the ordeal that Noah and his company had put her through. The most touching moment in this chapter was Noah's arranging for his Haitian friend and partner to shoot him and erase his memory. That would insure that even if faking his own death was ineffective, he would not be able to betray his daughter in the event of his possible capture by agents of the company. Definite conveyance of the ultimate act of love between father and daughter.

Chapters 24-29: "War Buddies":
A very good combination of chapters, explaining the connection between Nathan Petrelli and Linderman. It was very creatively portrayed. The backdrop of the war was a good starting point to tell the story of a very unusual alliance. The revelation of the mysterious Austin's true identity as being the character of Linderman completely caught me off guard. I enjoyed the experience of actually being surprised when reading such a comic as this one. Most of the other chapters had elements of predictability to them. However, the "War Buddies " chapters were completely original. I don't recall the TV series going into such detail about the Petrilli and Linderman alliance. A lot of incongruous pieces to the Linderman puzzle were finally put together. Very well done !!

Chapter 30: "String Theory":
So well written !! The future Hiro's time travel experiences and his reasons for doing so were so well outlined. The focal point of the whole story was brought into light by this one sentence in the chapter: "Time was not a line or a fabric, but the product of lives interweaved." Excellent way of describing how the past effects the future. Way better than the TV series, which showed the future Hiro appearing out of nowhere to confront his past counterpart. His mission was taken from the point of view of the future and supplied an effective visual explanation as to why his time travel was necessary. The dark animation set the mood perfectly. The end of the chapter in which Hiro confronted a past version of himself portrayed an inner conflict as well as an external one. It was indeed this inner conflict that was the most important part of the problem, which needed resolution, which was the focal point of the book's author.

Chapters 31 and 32: "Walls":
Also, good in providing possible background to the alternate universe theory. It connected Nikki and Peter together, and the future Hiro as being their savior. Once again, Parkman was a director on "the dark side," probably either working for Linderman and/or the evil President Nathan Petreilli. Unfortunately, the descent of Parkman to becoming a soldier of the evil empire was not explained well in either the TV series or the book.

Chapters 33 and 34: "The Death Of Hana Gitelman":
Effectively united Noah, Ted and Matt with Hana. It provided an answer to the questions that Hana had been asking herself about the purpose of her life. The E-mail conversation between Micah and Hana, at the end of the story, provided a good sense of closure. The last words that Hana e-mailed to Micah were quite thought provoking: "Death is never quite what you expect it to be. It might seem like an ending, but really the journey is just beginning. " It was indeed quite relevant for a story that keeps continuing on. It left us with some questions for contemplation: Does it ever really end? Do our heroes ever really die? Let us hope that they never do.

Summary:
Yes, indeed; Let us hope that our heroes never do die. The slight imperfections in the comics that I pointed out were mostly gaps in logic that would likely be present in almost every sci-fi novel. I experienced a great deal of pleasure from reading these comics. It greatly enhanced my appreciation for the televised version and made me look forward to reading further "Heroes" comics collection adaptations such as this one.

Overall Grade: "B plus"

Also see Logan's review of Heroes, Volume one.

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