Writer: Jason Rand
Artists: Gabe Pena(p), Chris Dreier(i), Transparency Digital Productions(c)
This is an impressive debut. Both Helios' art and story deliver much in the way of entertainment. The skills of the creators also match their hearts, and that's a rare find in an independent production.
In Helios co-creator and editor Mike Penny and Jason Rand establish an intriguing super-hero touched world that differs vastly from the Marvel and DC cosmologies. The opening dialogue gives a short history of this world and does not overstay its welcome. The writer wisely assumes that their audience is familiar with the tropes of the super-hero. Thus, they can get about to showing what's different about their world.
The setting possesses the realistic backdrop of corruption and political greed, and the fantastic elements have been toned down with the incorporation of the heroes into a special forces type military organization. The difference however is that the military isn't the enemy or the bleeder of taxpayer dollars as so often portrayed. Rather it operates more like an UNCLE type friendly association dedicated to police the world for the good of the innocent.
The lion's share of the characterization goes to the fetching purple haired speedster depicted on the cover. Rand daringly gives this character the opportunity to resonate and gives somebody the reader can really care about when she is endangered. This technique exemplifies a student of the genre. When Our Worlds at War killed off Sam Lane nobody cared. Sam Lane who? When "Sins of the Past" tarnished Gwen Stacy beyond redemption. We all cried foul. Rand knows that his ideas have to be worked into one issue. So, he gives the reader a taste of Blur's winning personality as well as her personal courage.
Seedy politics actually infuses Helios with a smarmy feel rather than the shocking but justifiable violence that's carefully staged by Gabe Pena, Chris Dreier and the colorists. The duel between a slimy politico and a well-meaning military official promises deeper explorations into arenas that are mostly untouched by the big two. This confrontation must have been something like what General Shinseki faced when Rumsfeld shot down his wise advice on troop numbers for Iraq.
Helios is a well-written foray into a new super-hero environs that's mixed with a good dose of realism. The art gives the book an unbusy distinctive look that's tempered by anatomic accuracy and a vivid depiction of settings ranging from torn apart cities to unusually organic military headquarters.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!