"The Secret Origin"
Writers: Keith Griffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Artists: Jon Abraham, Mike Cavallaro (colors)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
This issue of Hero Squared is, much like its characters, a story in two parts. It is also the best one to date and a good place for newcomers to jump onto this title. While, in general, Hero Squared could be succinctly described as a super-hero spoof, this issue has more depth and development in it than most serious super-hero books.
The story thus far has been that of Captain Valor and Caliginous bursting from their alternate universe into our very mundane one, generally interfering and making a mess of things for their real life counter parts. Much of the charm of the book up to this point has been in its use of super-hero and adolescent conventions in order to spoof both. Captain Valorís real world equivalent, Milo (donít call me Eustace) Stone, is a rather pathetic example of the fanboy species, with a best friend who is more Kevin Smith than Harry Osborn. Captain Valor is a muscle-bound flyer with tendencies to punch first and ask questions later. Needless to say, the team behind Hero Squared has got a great deal of material to work with. The great fun, though, is that they squeeze the material for every laugh that itís worth.
On the surface, you might not think so. The first portion of the story tells how the alternate Milo went from 95 pound weakling to defender of the world: During a visit to the local museum, alt-Milo was accosted by a mighty sorcerer who granted him tremendous powers with which to protect the Earth. Heard that before, right? However, in the hands of the Hero Squared team, this little trip down clichť lane turns into a hilarious bit. The mighty sorcerer is naked except for his beard, traps alt-Milo in the bathroom by cursing his urethra and pulls him into a pocket dimension from a public bathroom stall. Okay, so thatís new. And much funnier in the book than the way it is presented here.
However, this issueís real success is in its exploration of the Stephie/Caliginous characters. Stephie, in both of her incarnations, is everything that Milo isnít: smart, attractive and dedicated to their relationship. So the first question that needs answering here is, obviously, what the Hell is she doing with him? Amazingly, the answer is fashioned in such a manner that it develops the character rather than making her seem like a lovelorn doormat. It also plays into alt-Stephieís transformation into the super-villain Caliginous and the very real flaws of Captain Valor. During an altercation between the two (at least to hear Caliginous tell it) Captain Valor has a breakdown that is so well played it makes the Homelander from The Boys seem childish and heavy-handed.
Hero Squared, though, subtly reminds the reader the Caliginous is the bad guy. So her entire side of the story is suspect. However, itís told in such an entertaining fashion that this fact may slip right past many readers.
If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the authorís work at http://madbastard.hypersites.com
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!