Saturday, July 28, 2007

Who Wants to be a Super Hero? #1:
Comic Book Review

I think of Stan Lee in much the same way I think of Lucille Ball. Lucy was a groundbreaking entertainer and her first TV show I Love Lucy is credited with inventing the three-camera sitcom format that is still used today. She went on to star in two more successful sitcoms and garnered four Emmys. I respect the hell out of her accomplishments, I just never thought she was funny.

Stan Lee, of course, co-created all the major hitters of the early days of Marvel Comics, in tandem with whichever artist was working on the book. Lee had a hand in Spider-man, X-Men, Daredevil, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four... It's an impressive list, and the early Marvel Comics had a level of characterization that was missing from the Distinguished Competition. As with Lucy I respect what he did, giving the world so many enduring characters, but Stan was never much of a writer, and I find most of those early stories unreadable.

Comics have evolved quite a bit since then, but judging from Dark Horse's Who Wants To Be A Super Hero? #1, Stan's writing has not. The subject of this first issue is a character named Feedback, based on the winner of last summer's Sci Fi Channel reality show Who Wants To Be A Super Hero? As was established in the show, Feedback is a computer tech geek who after being struck by lightning while holding a video game controller (dear God, did I just write that?) he is endowed with strange electrical powers. You might think this was being played for laughs, but the story is played as straight super hero melodrama. Without exaggeration, nearly every panel in this book had me inwardly shrieking "who the hell talks like this?" I'm not entirely sure if he's intentionally doing a retro thing here, trying to ape the ridiculously over the top style of his earlier work. If this is the case, my response is that an imitation of crap is still crap.

As the winner of last summer's Who Wants To Be A Super Hero?, Feedback was also supposed to appear in a Sci Fi Channel original movie. Given the quality of most such efforts, perhaps it's best that the movie hasn't materialized. I honestly enjoyed the show, and even though Feedback's win was a bit of a surprise (I had thought Major Victory was a shoe-in), I thought he was a deserving winner. Nobody, however, deserves this comic.

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