Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Heroes

The first two episodes of NBC's new series, Heroes, left me with mixed feelings. It's one of those new, ultra-hip dramas that tries soooooo hard to ape Lost with the slow, drawn-out mystery that I wanted to reach through my television and slap the showrunner around a little. Okay, a lot. Two full episodes, and all we'd had were character intros. Sheesh.

The end of episode 2, "Don't Look Back," gave me a bit of hope with a cool tease of a nuclear explosion going off in future New York. Okay, now we know at least part of the plot. And episode 3, "One Giant Leap," ended with the killer (literally) cliffhanger of cheeleader Claire waking up on an autopsy table with her chest cut open. Ouch! Last night's episode, "Collision," featured a number of the proto-heroes crossing paths (what is it about Las Vegas, anyway?) and the series finally starting to generate some forward momentum. I have one suggestion for the show runners--quit trying to follow the Lost playbook. "Collision" is thus far the episode that stands out the most simply because it deviates more from that draw-things-out mentality (or, in comics terms, the much-derided Marvel strategy of "decompressed storytelling). With more episodes like "Collision," I'll definitely stick around to see what happens next.

Part of the fun of watching Heroes is figuring which pre-existing comics hero serves as the template for the television character. It's a little annoying the show apparently thinks each character/power is clever and original when Marvel and DC (not to mention all the indys that've come and gone) have already plowed these fields, in some cases many times over. But hey, watching how the show attempts to make them fresh, or disguise their origins, is part of the fun:

Hiro Nakamura-- time-travelling, teleporting ├╝ber-geek. A Trekkie and comic book fan, Hiro has very, very quickly become my favorite character. With his non-powered buddy from the high-powered Tokyo business climate, Hiro's the first to recognize his powers for what they are and simultaneously get in trouble by using them. There have been many heroes with time and teleportation powers in comics, but I really don't see any of those serving as a direct template for Hiro. Of all the characters in this series, he comes off as the most original (and potentially the most powerful). Fans of Keith Giffen's Justice League International will absolutely love Hiro's sequences.

Claire Bennet-- regenerating cheerleader. She's cute, with the requisite teen angst, but apart from some of the graphic mangling she puts her attractive body through, she's essentially Wolverine without the adamantium skeleton and claws. What do you want to bet something similar lies in her future?

Niki Sanders-- the single-mother stripper with a heart of gold. Oh, and a Mr. Hyde-style alter ego that happily kills anyone who crosses her and seduces congressmen. By far the weakest of the characters, simply because a split personality isn't all that super. It'd be interesting if she turned out to be a super-villain, tho.

Isaac Mendez-- junkie artist who paints the future when high on heroin. He's a plot device, plain and simple. His heroin addiction is evocative of Roy Harper's (aka Speedy) addiction in the old Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics by Denny O'Neal and Neil Adams. The painting, tho... there are some instances in fantasy novels, but I'm drawing a blank for a comics connection.

Matt Parkman-- a good cop with a crumbling marriage who's hoping fans of his role on Alias will watch him here. Oh yeah, he can read minds. How many telepaths have danced through the pages of comic books over the years? Oh yeah--he's also the first "hero" the bad guys capture.

Mohinder Suresh-- son of the scientist researching reports of super-human abilities who suddenly turned up dead. Son has no obvious powers, other than requisite Oedipal issues. He's the "normal" character who's smarter than everyone else, who puts the clues together and explains everything for the viewers at home.

Nathan Petrelli-- a machiavellian congressional candidate who can fly. And isn't above throwing friends or relatives under the metaphorical bus to further his ambitions. Isn't above sleeping with single-mother strippers with evil alter egos, either. Especially when such liasions are being recorded for blackmail purposes.

Peter Petrelli-- not a big fan of his brother (see bus reference). Has powers of DC villain Parasite, along with a number of others--he takes on the abilities of those around him, although the hero he's siphoning powers from doesn't seem to be adversely affected. Thus far appears to be the viewpoint character, which is annoying, because he's a dolt.

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