I’m so wired after I finished watching the beginning of Heroes, Volume 3 (the Television series) that here I am blogging about it. The remarkable characteristic of Heroes is that people who don’t care for or actively dislike comic books, still enjoy this series. Completely predictable, however, is the fact that comic book aficionados often enjoy it as well. I fall into the latter category, although I fell out of practice when I realized that spending money on comics rarely lead to positive experiences with women.
I enjoy Heroes, but I don’t usually obsess over the show as many of my friends have done, nor did I feel disappointed by the show as many of my friends have felt. Maybe that’s because I don’t find myself demanding that the show be anything other than what it is. It is a live-action television show with no costumery nor fantastical realms (aside from Las Vegas) that still attempts to tell stories in the way that serialized comic books do. Not Graphic Novels, not anime, not Superhero movies, but regular old flimsy paper printed, 32-page long, multi-arced comic books.
Graphic Novels, real ones not the flash-based webisodes that get called that, have the protection of their own labels to tell stories in whatever style the author chooses. They are novels, told in graphical format. Their subjects may be extraordinary or mundane. They may contain a great deal of dialog or pages of wordless images. They may run just a few pages or take up encyclopedic volumes. Graphic novels are not best analogized by TV or movies or even books. The closest comparison is immersive video games. After that, real life. I claim this because you are forced to see images, but you are not forced to hear or interpret anything else. You can mute the video game, you can ignore most of reality, but generally you don’t close your eyes to your experiences. Graphic novels should be impressive or they’ve failed.
Comic books are nowhere near as immersive. They are structured to be episodic. They often contain quick summaries of the story so far at their beginning. They often contain numerous advertisements breaking up the flow. They are colorful and vibrant and it takes the best of writers to be able to carry off ensemble stories. There may be issues that progress nothing of the canon of the comic book’s universe. There may be issues that contradict canon, hopely to be retconned back into continuity later. And while it may not be the main purpose of a story, every comic book staff member has the idea in the back of his mind that should someone pick up a single issue, that issue (any issue) should be compelling enough to capture a new subscriber. That’s not necessarily commercial so much as it is survival instinct.
This is how the story of Heroes unfolds to me. It is often quick and exciting. The stories progress the canon and develop character, episodic, and overarching… arcs. They capture the audience with flash and glamour and emotion but avoid the costumes and dastardly plans that would diminish the mainstream viewer’s perception of the show. Certainly there are times when the story progresses slower than at others. Upon occasion, a character seems to take foolish actions or act one-dimensional. That’s unacceptable for “24” perhaps, but isn’t it reasonable for The Adventures of Jimmy Olsen? When my friends tell me that something in Heroes has disappointed them, I tend to suspect that they’ve lost sight of the conceit of the show: it is a comic book. It is a well-disguised and well-written comic book, but that’s what it is nonetheless.
Tonight, I got to see new characters, new ideas, and new story lines introduced. I am enamored of the speedster as I’ve often wanted the powers of The Flash. I am intrigued by the escapees (what can Jesse do?). I am reassured by the old familiar faces. I am amused by Park-Man and the dialog between Sylar and Claire. I still wish someone would kill off Mohinder and Maya. And I did not see it coming: the last statement of Angela Petrelli. Wow. These were two good issues and I will definitely pick up the next one.