Writers: J.M. Dematteis and Keith Giffen
Artist: Joe Abraham
Publisher: Boom! Studios
I admit it, I had preconceptions going in prior to reading Hero Squared #2. These materialized as a result of my reading the credits and finding out the story was written by Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis. Anyone reading contemporary comics these days knows these two have carved out quite a niche for themselves as a comedic team delivering off beat plots with touches of realism, wit, and tongue-in-cheek references which only fanboys and die hard fans can sometimes fully understand or appreciate.
I read their widely touted “Formerly Known as the Justice League” series which was their take on JLA characters from the 80s and found it lacking. It had its moments, but overall, their style of observing the absurdities of a life wearing tights and living in our world, just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Hero Squared continues in this tradition and boasts of an interesting premise, breaking the 4th wall as it does with a character who may be from another dimension and represented in our world through comic books. The plot focuses on the dynamics between Captain Valor and the other Milo, but the writers utilize their personal conflicts not only as a tool for character development, but also to make commentaries on social problems in our world (i.e. racism, anti-Semitism, confusion over sexual orientations) while observing superhero conventions. Characters taking over other character’s identities is not an original concept. Reading this comic, I was reminded of the whole Ben Reilly-Peter Parker saga from the mid 90s. Reilly felt indignation over the fact Parker had usurped his life and Milo echoes similar feelings here. There’s also a generational gap which is spotlighted through the two title characters' mannerisms and patterns of speech and through their individual characteristics. All this, of course, is mixed in with the usual sight gags and pranks Giffen and Dematteis are fond of, including scatological humor. At one point, Milo tells Valor to cool off, and he takes his advice quite literally.
Captain Valor is the traditionalist throwback, while the other Milo is the modern guy, a wannabe who has turned his back on his superhero heritage to pursue a career as a film maker. In other words, he’s the idealist and the slacker, the embodiment of “generation Y” while Valor is all “Baby Boomer.” This is all accomplished through a therapy session in which the doctor is a stock character, firing out the tried and true questions of a typical shrink, but just when she gets down to the interesting stuff, their hour is up and so is the reader’s, making for a subtle cliffhanger. The artwork by Joe Abraham is nice, rendering the character expressions needed for this type of story, and even though the cover is great, it would probably cause me to pass on the issue as it advertises an “all therapy” issue which usually means a lot of talking heads with very little action sequences. If you’re a fan of Giffen and Dematteis’ off the wall humor and explorations of the human side behind superheroes, you will probably really like this series. If you’re like me and prefer the occasional humor mixed into the traditional comic book fare of Marvel, DC, and other publishers, then you probably won’t enjoy it as much.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!