Fiction Reviews

Heroes vol.2

(2008) various writers & artists, Titan Books, 19.99, Can$34.99, US$29.99, hrdbk, 240pp, ISBN 978-1-84856-109-0 (US ISBN 978-1-401-21925-3)

This is the second compilation of the on-line, internet comic spin-off series of comics from the TV show (in my opinion, quite possibly the most literate SF series since Babylon 5). Originally presented in weekly five or six page chunks, volume one collected 'issues' 1-34; this second volume collects issues 35-80. Each 'episode' is fronted by a cover, by Tim Sale, of the fictional comic 9th Wonders (Sale's work was used in the series as the prophetic paintings of the character Isaac Mendez). Each story, some of which are presented (due to the limitations of the format) as two, three or four-parters, fill in some aspect of the wider back-story, including the 'origin' tales of some characters. The TV show can be easily enjoyed without reading any of the comics; however, despite the publisher's claims that this is "the perfect introduction to the as-yet uninitiated", the reverse is not true: unless you've seen the TV series you have no chance whatsoever of following what's going on in the comic. You are dropped right into the action from the first page. That having been said, what is perhaps most surprising about this work is that again, despite the limitations of the format, a lot of internal continuity has been built up, especially where the comics' writers have introduced new characters whose plotlines intersect with those in the TV show in often surprising ways, and where barely mentioned characters are dealt with. The numbers of writers and artists involved are truly legion (a tribute to the popularity of the show), and it would be counter-productive to attempt to list them all here. However, in addition to the hugely talented Tim Sale mentioned above, it is worth noting the contributions of Helix/Wildstorm's editorial director Jeph Loeb (an executive producer of Tim Kring's TV show and bright-eyed boy of DC Comics) and Aron Eli Coleite, Joe Pokaski, Jesse Alexander, Chuck Kim and Mark Warshaw of Helix Comics.

In this second volume you will encounter the origin of the Haitian (by Joe Kelly), the origin of Candice (in "Betty" by Joe Casey), the early adventures of Claude (the invisible man), Noah Bennet (including how it was that he came to need glasses), the initial outings of Elle (and how she came to hate Claire Bennet), the adventures of Ando Masahashi (and his unrequited love for Hiro Nakamura's sister, Kimiko), various sidebar wanderings of Dr. Mohinder Suresh in his search for 'special' people, tons of backstory on the immortal Adam Monroe (including adventures of Takezo Kensei), flash-forwards to the potential future(s) presented in the series, and the backstory of Daniel Linderman and Arthur Petrelli. There's more, much more, but you get the picture. This is a beautifully presented volume and I unhesitatingly recommend it to all fans of the show (and the show itself to anyone yet to encounter it; start at the beginning, though, it is not the kind of thing where you can just jump in). As an aside, for any fans of the show who may have missed volume one of the collected comics, if you happen to have a discount book chain in your area, the first volume of the book, the Titan trade paperback version with the lovely Alex Ross cover, has now been remaindered at 2.99 (a substantial saving from the original cover price of 9.99). Seek and ye shall find...

Tony Chester

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