Thursday, July 31, 2003

Heroes Anonymous #1 - A Review

Written by: Scott M. Gimple
Penciled by: A.J. Jothikumar & Bill Morrison
Inked by: Andrew Pepoy & Bill Morrison
Colored by: Serban Cristescu
Lettered by: Chris Ungar
Editor: Bill Morrison
Publisher: Bongo Comics

This book came out last week, but I didn’t get a chance to submit a review of it then. A grievous mistake on my part, and I hope that you all can forgive me for my cruelty in having deprived you of the splendor that is Heroes Anonymous.

The concept of the book is summed up in a simple header on the cover; Super Group Therapy. Yes, its superheroes talking about their problems and working out solutions together. Sounds pretty lame, doesn’t it? “Dear John” in tights. (And how many of you out there remember that show, anyway?)

Well, it might be lame… if that were the book. Amusing as I’m sure it might be to have some vaguely redrawn Wolverine-esque and Punisher-esque characters sitting in an office and breaking into tears as they are chastised for their anger management problems, that is not what this book is about.

What is it about then? In this case, the issue centers around a guy named Toby. Toby was once Attaboy, sidekick to Gothtropolis’s protector; The Midknight. Forced out of heroism after his attack on a corrupt mayor accidentally killed beloved city duck mascot “Mr. Wackyquacky”, he wandered the world for a while trying to find himself before coming back to Gothtropolis, moving in with some friends who knew nothing of his career as a hero and got a job as a convenience store clerk.

So it’s Kevin Smith’s “Nightwing: Year One”? Is that what this book is?

Not even close, True Believer. And quit interrupting me when I’m having a rhetorical conversation with you!

Okay. The story does have something of the feel of a sequel to Clerks. Toby is told repeatedly that he is wasting his potential; both by his friends, who are trying to get him to take the SAT and get into college and by other superheroes, who are trying to get him back into a costume. But Toby is content, if not satisfied with life until a mysterious supervillain starts destroying TV transmitters across town, causing him to miss his favorite TV show. A post to a newsgroup helps him get a copy of the episode he missed from a woman named Lynn. The two quickly become friends and then "more than" that and Lynn indirectly helps Toby to realize that with great power comes great responsibility (or something like that) and that we all have a responsibility to use our talents to the fullest.

The artwork aids the aforementioned Smithesque feel, with Jothikumar’s style reminding me of a somewhat more detailed Jim Mahfood. The inks are suitable atmospheric, with the yellow on white and black coloring giving the whole story the feel of a classic comic found in an attic, despite the modern setting.

I really enjoyed this story, finding Toby very relatable. Of course this may be because I too am a twenty-something trapped in a retail job who could be “so much more” according to a lot of other people who are also wasting their lives as near as I can tell. But it is the little contradictions like that which makes the book so funny and wonderful and ultimately… true to life.

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