March 27, 2014

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Real Heroes #1


Real Heroes #1
Written and Illustrated by Bryan Hitch
Image Comics

Do you like widescreen, panoramic comics full of humor and big action and characters who look like famous actors? Did you like Galaxy Quest, with its story of actors from a science fiction TV franchise forced to actually become the characters they played? Then I have glad tidings for you, because "Real Heroes," the new book from Bryan Hitch, fills those precise needs.  This is a funny, entertaining first issue.

As the story begins, we see young Chris Reynolds, whose father is a firefighter tragically killed on 9/11. The story then jumps to a scene of dramatic superhero action as superheroes and villains battle throughout the streets of New York City (in a scene suspiciously reminiscent of the Avengers movie). This, as it turns out, is a scene from "The Olympians 2", the sequel to the giant blockbuster which has the second highest box office total in history. The stars of the new movie (including the now grownup Chris Reynolds, who has turned into a dead ringer for Chris Pine) are at the Hollywood premiere, at Mann's Chinese Theater.  There's some funny interactions and a lot of stereotypical scenes regarding Hollywood actors (i.e., sex, drugs and cynicism). Something goes horribly awry as one of the props from the movie (a robot) starts horrifically attacking and killing people, and the "heroes" are transported to the fictional universe in which their characters exist. This fictional universe has been devastated by the absence of the Olympians superheroes, and these actors are given the chance, by a mysterious figure, to be the "real heroes" they've pretended to be on screen.

This is an engaging first issue. If you're familiar with Bryan Hitch's other work (including the recent "America's Got Powers"), then you know what you're getting. This book has the same sort of knowing, sardonic tone that Mark Millar and Hitch brought to the "Ultimates" books. It also provides the same sort of big, popcorn entertainment feel as the movies at which it (gently) pokes. On art, Hitch provides what he's known for and tells the story in a big, cinematic way. While the facial detail of characters can vary occasionally, few can convey huge scope quite like Hitch does. There are fantastically detailed, widescreen shots of action, of cities and of destruction. There are entertaining costumed heroes that are clever riffs on existing Marvel/DC superheroes. There are characters clearly meant to look like real actors (the aforementioned Chris Pine, and I thought I saw Bradley Cooper as well). This is mostly a setup issue, but it gives you a good feel for what you're going to get in this series, and it does an effective job creating anticipation about what's coming next. Will these actors rise to the challenge? Will they make it back to their own world?  It will be fun to find out.