Monday, December 7, 2009

Super Short Reviews: Hero Alliance

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, independent publishing was having a minor boom. One of the products of this boom was Hero Alliance. The idea was a sound one. What if instead of banding together as a traditional super-hero team, the heroes instead worked together as an informal union, helping and training each other as needed. There would still be team ups and battles but the series would have more of a focus on the personal lives of the central heroes.
This was fine in theory. Unfortunately, none of the characters were all that interesting. The team a was led by Victor, the book's main star, a pretty bland Superman pastiche. The only real twist brought to the character was that he had a secret identity the made Clark Kent look comparatively discreet. For God's sakes, the man's real name was Vic Torrance, everyone kept commenting about how he never seemed to age, and he ran a gym that catered to superheroes. Yet every single person would be surprised when they found out that he was really Victor. Keep in mind that this comic was supposed to be more realistic then its mainstream counterparts.
Then there was the Sentry. He was the team's version of Batman. I would talk more about him but that would imply that the character was in any way distinguishable from Batman.
Then there was the Golden Guard, Victor's girlfriend and daughter of the world's first superhero. Of course, she was a fully developed character and not an excuse for gratuitous T&A. Yeah, right.
This is all especially frustrating when you realize that the series had good ideas . For example, the Guardsmen, the worlds foremost hero team is murdered by the super villain, Sepulcher. The twist is that Sepulcher is not their arch-enemy but a third-rate villain who wears a rubber zombie mask. Instead of engaging the heroes in fight he knows he'll lose, he simply blows up their big ostentatious public headquarters. No one even know it was him until he boasts about it after the heroes make fun of him when he gets captured during a convenience store robbery. Remember, kids, if a supervillain robs a convenience store, it means that he's not very good at his job.
If this sounds like an enjoyable read, keep in mind that none of the events I just described are shown to us. No, since comic books are a visual medium, the writer decided that it would be a good idea to never show the death of the Guardsmen on panel. Instead, we get other characters talking about it and captions filling in the details. Keep in mind this event leads to the formation of the titular super team. So you know, it's a great idea that we never see it. We wouldn't want the audience that something into get the mistaken idea that interesting things happen in this comic.
Because, with rare exceptions, they really don't. Most of the characters just sit around talking in expository dialog. The comic has great ideas but fails to put them forth in an interesting way. This is, by far, Hero Alliance's unforgivable sin.

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