Hero Squared #1

Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
Art by Joe Abraham
32 pages, color
Published by Atomeka Press

Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, as a writing team, are probably best-known for their collaboration on books like Justice League International and Formerly Known as the Justice League. Now they’re co-writing another book, and while it’s not the Justice League this time, they’re certainly trying to appeal to the same people who enjoyed their earlier works.

On one world, Milo met a mysterious stranger and became Captain Valor, defender of the planet. On another very similar world, Milo never had this chance encounter and instead is a struggling filmmaker (if you can even call his career path that) and a general loser. Now, Captain Valor’s world has been destroyed and he’s escaped across the dimensions… to Milo’s world. It’s hard to say who will be more disappointed in Milo: his alternate-universe counterpart Captain Valor, or the villain that followed Captain Valor to Milo’s world. Things are definitely not looking good for Milo.

Giffen and DeMatteis’s opening issue of Hero Squared is in many ways a textbook introduction to a series; we get some background on our characters, a look at how life was for them, and then the new conflict that changes everything begins to play out. It’s a fun look into Milo’s life, with his conversation with his best friend revealing a lot about his general outlook on life and setting up the contrast between Milo and Captain Valor quite nicely. There is too much of a good thing, though, and towards the end of Milo and Valor’s first meeting I found myself actually hoping that something horrible would happen simply to force a change of scenery. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is pretty good, but I can’t help but wish that the extra pages had been used for an entirely new scene instead of having the Milo and Valor meeting stretch on a little too long. The issue’s conclusion is good, though, with the Sloat attack being really funny and showing me that Giffen and DeMatteis are able to find humor in just about everything. The final page probably would have been a little more shocking if they hadn’t essentially spoiled the revelation a good half-dozen pages earlier, but it was still nice to see that we’re going to get some immediate follow-through on the ideas that Giffen and DeMatteis are creating here, rather than to take the lackadaisical pace that so many books seem to these days.

Joe Abraham’s art is new to me, and there’s stuff to both like and dislike. His basic character designs are strong, and I think he has a good sense of action and movement as demonstrated in Sloat’s attack on Milo’s world. It’s not just the big action that he’s good at, like Valor ripping up the pavement to use as a shield, but the little things like characters twisting and dodging that comes across as natural and fluid. The only thing I’m not crazy about is that a lot of the art looks like it’s been colored directly off of rough pencils. While I’m not against the technique in general, you do need a specific style of art to pull it off, and Abraham’s pencils seem like they’d be better served with a clean ink line on top of them.

Hero Squared is a nice series debut. It’s funny, there are a lot of story possibilities for future issues, and at the end of the first issue I’m genuinely interested in finding out the answer to the question, “What next?” In other words, exactly what a first issue should do. Here’s looking forward to #2.

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