Admirable is a tough word to bandy around – it’s one of those backhanded compliments, the polite, critic-y alternative to giving a wee pat on the head, and a ‘good effort, son’ before instantly forgetting it. Sadly, my repertoire has no other words for it – Real Heroes is incredibly admirable. There’s just a swathe of little niggles in the way of making it anything else.
Let’s get some praise in, because it is worthy of some – the art is excellent, with supremely detailed scenery, in particular key locales in both Los Angeles and New York are immediately recognisable. Hitch has done his research in terms of landmarks, and this gives the book a terrific sense of place, despite the action flitting between the two.
As an idea, the whole ‘actors step into their roles for real’ has potential to be an interesting one when applied to superhero mythology. But whilst the heroes that Hitch has come up with feature a terrific design ethic – and his art continues to shine in this department – they can’t quite shake the fact that they’re just one big Avengers analogue, with a couple of DC characters thrown in for good measure. Heck, *New York* gets levelled in this book. By alien robots. Led by a crazed extra-terrestrial. Couldn’t it have been London? Chicago? And did it really have to be alien robots? This is the problem with the entire book – it just feels a little too derivative, riding the line between pastiche and knock-off rather precariously.
There’s also the fact that when the admittedly quite interesting and dynamic action isn’t going down, Hitch has a tendency to swamp his art with far, far too many dialogue bubbles. The dialogue is by no means bad – in fact, it’s quite engaging, with each character having a distinct voice – but there’s just so much of it, and it just feels like it’d’ve been better suited to a motion picture medium, rather than our beloved sequential art, those little white bubbles obscuring our vision into the world.
So admirable on all fronts then, but with a few roadblocks keeping it from being truly memorable. With Hitch’s connections, it may well get made into a movie, and the story would be all the better for it. But as it stands, as a comic, it just ends up in the limbo between good and bad, with every possibility that the next issue will end up swinging it one way or the other. But for now…
The writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney