Monday, February 19, 2007

Not Hot for "Heroes"

Knowing my fondness for all things science fiction-y, people have been asking me whether I watch “Heroes.” Short answer: “No.” Longer answer: “If I want superheroes, I like them best in comics.”

I missed the series premiere of “Heroes” back at the start of the season. When the show took its mid-winter break, I watched two marathons of re-runs. I liked a lot of what I saw, including the high production values, the decent acting and the not-stupid scripts. But none of the characters, other than Hiro, really grabbed me: not the weaselly politician, not the stripper mom with MPD, not the cuckolded psychic cop, and certainly not the cheerleader who needed to be saved. The fact that I can’t remember any of their names off the top of my head speaks to my level of emotional involvement with the show. (It didn’t help that the marathons consisted on Episodes 5-7 and then 9-10. Where was the logic in that?)

The problem may be that four decades of reading comics have left me immune to any sense of excitement at seeing a reasonably well-done superhero series on TV. If I’m jonesing for a narrative about people with special powers, it’s a matter of going to the nearby bookshelf and grabbing a volume by Alan Moore (“Watchmen”), Grant Morrison (“JLA” or “Seven Soldiers of Victory”) or James Robinson (“Starman.”). All three have produced superhero sagas whose complexity and depth will probably never be matched in another medium. And the racks at the local comics store are jammed with other folks-in-tights epics if I want something new, like DC’s “52.”

I don’t even like superhero movies that much. Most are terrible, but even the best ones, from “Batman Begins” to “Spider-Man” to “V for Vendetta,” don’t give me the same rush as Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” or Warren Ellis’s “Planetary.”

Most clued-in folks know that comics, as an incredibly elastic medium, are capable of more than just BIFF! BAM! POW! But I’ve personally formed the hypothesis that comics may be the only medium in which BIFF! BAM! POW! actually succeeds artistically.

Besides, right now, I only have room in my life for one miss-a-single-episode-and-you’re-screwed television experience. For the moment, for better or for worse, “Lost” is it.

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