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Heroes Anonymous #1

Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2003
By: Ray Tate



"Session #1: The Angst of Attaboy"

Writer: Scott Gimple
Artists: A.J. Jothikumar(p), Andrew Pepoy(i)
Publisher: Bongo

Bongo was kind enough to send me an issue of Heroes Anonymous, and while I think there's an audience for the book, it's perhaps not the one intended. This is not a book for people who like and still read super-heroes books. It is not for the jaded fans of the DC multiverse. The audience for this adventure is more likely comprised of those who do not care for super heroes, believe they are silly or simply snub their noses at them for being too childish a concept.

The title describes the plot of the story. One of the heroes you see on the cover unloads at a group therapy session run by hero with the mustache on the cover of the book. The therapist recalls John Cleese, and scenes of him trying to get through to his group remind me of the how to defend yourself when attacked by a man wielding a banana sketch.

Unfortunately, the humor stops at that point. I'm unsure of Heroes Anonymous' aims. The tone is too shallow to be taken seriously. It's however not over the top enough to laugh out loud funny. There is some amusement in the demise of a duck, but most of the jokes simply fizzle. For instance, one of the characteristics of Attaboy is his strange love for a show that sends up the mediocrity of Different Strokes. This affection does factor into the plot, but it provides a joke far past its sell date.

The hero under the microscope, or rather MRI, is a thinly disguised version of Robin. There's nothing funny about him, and there's not enough in his characterization for me to fare about him. He just sort of represents Robin. However, it's not an honest satire. The relationship between Robin and Batman in the ugly alleged Original Universe almost is a self-parody. There is no warmth shared between them. It's become a running joke that Robin as Nightwing finds fault in his upbringing, resents his mentor and indeed will come to the cave and whine about it despite the fact that every time he does the matter is resolved with their shaking hands and going their separate ways until the next whining session. This is a far cry from Robin coming to Batman's aid during the no longer existent Hugo Strange classic by Steve Engelheart and Marshall Rogers.

No matter how much of a psychosis has been grafted to Batman, even I find the notion that he would inject into a kid's bloodstream a chemical that gives him super-powers, and off hand I cannot think of a single sidekick who suffered such criminal acts. Batman never would have bribed anybody to have Dick Grayson's grades fixed. This is what occurs in Heroes Anonymous. As much as it makes sense that Attaboy's life would take a tailspin, the problem is that it doesn't make any sense that his mentor who represents Batman would do such a thing to Attaboy who represents Robin. The premise is faulty. It's unnecessary, and it doesn't approach its targets so how can it reproach?

The artwork does not gibe with the horrendous treatment of the characters or the seriousness of their daring do. From the artwork, I would have to say that this is likely an attempt at being a humor book. The artwork, while detailed and cinemagraphic, still possesses an air of cartooniness, and I kept thinking to myself, why is this artist not doing serious super-hero books? He's just a dimension shy from reaching the traditional visual storytelling that arose from the marriage of pulp literature and comic strips.

By no means is Heroes Anonymous a bad book. It does not rank amid the smelliest issues of Superman, and it is not scattershot in the narrative. The dialogue makes sense when it is supposed to make sense. If the characters had a plausible history, I cannot see a reason why I wouldn't follow their adventures. The biggest asset of the book is the artwork. The largest deficit is in the plot that I found forced and non-descriptive of its target.



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