Writer: DJ Coffman and James Patick
Artist(s): DJ Coffman, Jason Embury (c)
Publisher: Platinum Studios
The winner of Platinum Studios’ first annual comic book challenge was a book entitled Hero by Night. Basically this mini-series focused on a young man who inadvertently becomes the successor to a hero long forgotten by his city. The main character, Jack King, discovers the superhero’s old hideout and costume and after trying to sell the stuff on eBay, he attracts long forgotten arch-enemies and is eventually forced to assume the identity of Hero by Night. Fantastic concept, really. I mean who wouldn’t try to sell Batman’s giant penny on eBay, right? The writer and artist of the series, DJ Coffman, did an excellent job creating a unique take on the superhero genre, utilizing the internet and Platinum Studios’ web comics site, Drunk Duck. At the end of the mini-series, Jack decided not to be Hero by Night to salvage his personal life, but readers like me felt that there needed to be more to this story. This past week, Platinum Studios and DJ Coffman granted that wish as the Hero by Night ongoing series hit shelves.
This first issue follows the classic formula of a hero questioning his desire to carry on a legacy. While it may seem a bit cliché, the way the events unfold are rather unique. Reading this issue, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that Jack was fooling himself by not wanting to be a superhero. While his new fiancée Roz seems to be the motivation for Jack’s way of thinking, it’s when he gets away from his ‘ball and chain’ that his secret desires begin to surface. I love the way Coffman introduces Jack and Roz, it’s a classic couple moment while they are boxing all the superhero stuff into storage. She tries to show her support for him if he does indeed want to be a superhero, but he interjects explaining how much he loves his life as a landlord. This little white lie by Jack is only further supported by the fact that he continues to wear the Hero by Night ring. There was something real about that conversation, something any man with a significant other no doubt goes through.
I really think Coffman ultimately succeeds with this series because of the level of realism he brings to Jack’s relationships and the dialogue. He tells Roz basically what she wants to hear, but then he goes to his friend’s house, in this case R.T., and it’s there that Jack is able to express his true feelings. It’s a strange version of a night out with the guys, where a man goes out with some guy friends to get away from the female and really think about his feelings. Sometimes however, as Coffman definitely suggests here, hanging out with the guys can really make those feelings come to fruition and a man does something the female wouldn’t like.
The events that end this issue are a bit of a cliché, but they play out very nicely and they definitely fit in the context of the story. While I may cite the cliché-ness of the events, it is also unavoidable but manages Coffman to put a personal spin on things, directly affecting Jack and his decision to “try out” being Hero by Night for one more night. Aside from the common idea that Jack sees crime has increased since he stopped being a hero and aside from the cliché fact that he realizes his city needs him, Coffman throws Jack for a bit of a personal loop. During the drug bust where he basically makes his return, Jack realizes one of the kids in the deal is related to one of his tenants. There’s something about that dynamic that should play out rather interestingly. The personal effect that being a superhero will have on him could be dire and could definitely play a major role in his sanity and how he gets involved in certain situations.
Coffman’s artwork is fantastic. I love his style because it creates an “animated series” kind of feel to this series that I think is vastly appropriate. This type of story I could definitely picture being on either Saturday mornings or a lighter side of Fox’s animation line-up. I really do dig his style and there’s not much negative I can say about it because it just flat-out works for this story. Coffman’s work is only enhanced by the vibrant and brilliant colors that Jason Embury brings to the page as well and the artwork in this book becomes the complete package.
Overall, I am very excited about the return of Hero By Night. Coffman has the opportunity to bring some creative ideas to the table, as evidenced by the introduction and conclusion of this issue, and expand and introduced characters that could not be covered in the mini-series. I think this is definitely a great series to follow that has a level of realism in the writing and some fantastic artwork to really bring it all together.
What did you think of this book?
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