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HERO #3

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2003
By: David Kozlowski

4 BULLETS

"Powers & Abilities (Part 3)"

Writer: Will Pfeifer
Artist: Kano

Publisher: DC Comics

Synopsis:
Jerry possesses a magical device that can transform him into a super-hero with amazing powers. But each attempt at heroism is met by ever-escalating disaster, which has led Jerry to contemplate suicide. His latest outing nearly kills a young drug dealer.

Comments:
I think it's great that some of the best comics on the shelves right now weren't even around two years ago (Y The Last Man, Fables, Queen & Country are great examples). I keep reading about the demise of the comics industry, but each month two or three titles debut from emerging as well as established creators. It gives me hope. Sure, the idea behind HERO isn't new or original, but the talent and execution behind it is sharp and fresh.

If you're just joining HERO, you'll notice that the main character, Jerry, is in a phone booth talking to a suicide hotline, recounting his recent failures as a super-hero. Consequently, all of the major action is told in flashback. It's a pretty timeworn plot device, which robs the story of much of its tension. A real-time event structure or linear timeline would not have been damaging to the story. That aside, the characters and their situations are so dramatic and powerful that it transcends the weakness of the setup.

Writer Will Pfeifer ended the last issue with a disaster. Jerry, in another flailing stab at costumed-heroism, severely wounds a drug dealer with a super-powered punch to the gut. Horrified, he rushes the critically wounded punk to a hospital. Jerry recoils from a nurse who demands to know if he is responsible for the injuries. Jerry exclaims he was only trying to help and bolts from the scene, whereas your archetype hero might have dipped his head and stoically accepted responsibility. Because he's just a kid and way outside his element, he panicked. It's totally believable that Jerry would feel so scared and powerless, despite possessing super-enhanced abilities.

Jerry just isn't equipped to handle the power he's been given and has no one to turn to. I honestly don't like Jerry and it's probably because I see a little of myself in him. Most people aren't star athletes. Not everyone goes straight on to college after high school. Hell, a lot of us just stumble around for years trying to find ourselves, suffering doubt and dejection along the way. Jerry doesn't have a road map for his life and he is the absolute worst choice to be granted super-powers, which is probably why his exploits are so damned interesting.

Final Word:
The next issue concludes this initial story arc. Pfeifer has done an extraordinary job of creating an everyman character that just about anyone can relate to; especially if you've suffered and struggled during your early twenties. While the premise of a device that can change you into a super-being is preposterous Pfeifer and artist Kano continue to craft a story where, were it possible, the results would be dark and painful.



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