Hero Squared #4

Writers Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis promised that issue 4 of their superhero comedy would have “Less Dialogue… More Hitting”, and they delivered on that promise big time, but not at the expense of story or character development.

In issue 4, we find Milo still wrongly suspected in the death of a man, and Stephie, his ex-girlfriend, won’t talk to him. So Milo resorts to video-stalking her in a half-baked attempt to win her over with a sort of cinema verite love letter. He’s basically become a desperate guy, with nowhere to live.

So who can get Milo out of this mess? Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! It’s… er, Eustace?

Unfortunately, our valiant Captain Valor — aka Eustace, an alternate dimension superhero version of Milo — has problems of his own. This is not his world, and it seems like the more that he tries to do good, the worse the result. When Valor tries to get Milo to come with him to the police station to get his name cleared, Valor is attacked by an exact replica of himself (the handiwork of his arch-enemy Caliginous), and an epic 10 page, battle royale ensues.

The resulting damage makes the city’s downtown look like a war zone. This time, it’s Milo who is the voice of sanity, screaming out “For God’s sake — stop! This isn’t a comic book!” Milo’s morally-outraged outburst silences Valor and catches the attention of Milo’s ex-girlfriend Stephie, who has watched everything from the sidelines. Valor finally sees how his own primary-colored attempts to save the city have had the devastingly opposite effect. This realization sets up the book to explore the real-world consequences of superhero vigilantism further down the line.

From my vantage point, this series continues to deliver. The characters and the world they inhabit are portrayed as complex and realistic, and the light-hearted, fast, and funny dialogue keeps things from getting heavy. The page layout, pacing, illustration and coloring are all excellent, and strike a good balance between the drama of a modern graphic novel and the funny and fantastic superhero stories of the past. The interaction between these two approaches — fantasy and reality — creates the dramatic tension that drives this series so well.