Ruby Nation

Ruby Nation
Ruby Nation: The Webcomic

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Treasure Buried in Sturgeon's Law: Heroes, Inc.

Since my own webcomicc has been moved to a weekly schedule, I've taken to making a stronger effort to read other peoples' works. Sturgeon's Law may still apply, but I've also seen quite a lot of phenomenally good online strips. I've even seen some superhero webcomics, which are comparatively uncommon online ( as opposed to in Western print comics, but that's neither here nor there ). My favorite one would be Heroes, Inc.

Written and drawn by Scott Austin, Heroes Inc. deals with the Golden Age superheroes who've fallen into the public domain-- at least, the characters who used to be Golden Age heroes. The strip switches between the World War 2 setting and the modern age, and the years haven't been kind to characters like the American Crusader and the Black Terror-- the survivors may be better preserved than normal humans, but have reduced physical capacities and war-time PTSD that never faded. Against a new wave of super-terror, they're no longer effective-- so their blood is being used by scientists to develop new heroes.

It's a disturbingly realistic treatment of superheroes, and while that term is bandied around to every superhero comic with a fin-headed rapist or demonic canine sidekick, here it actually applies. The World War Two scenes are treated as horrific and traumatizing-- even if it's considered an ethical war, the soldiers ( super or not ) actually fighting it don't like what they have to do. There's an elaborate history between then and now regarding the super-soldiers' post-war lives-- one ended up a death row inmate, one as a feral creature living in the woods, and a lucky one as a minister with a clear need to atone. What's more, the development of superHEROES is treated as a novelty-- even with their powers, the Golden Age heroes still dressed in regular military uniforms and fought like anyone else-- and the young people taking on this responsibility might not be up to it.

The story is still relatively new, but shows incredible promise. The art by Austin is equally impressive-- he uses widescreen layouts and realistically renderings, with distinct character designs ( and for most of the cast, obvious signs of aging ). He would fit right in on a book like Ed Brubaker's Captain America, alongside Butch Guice, Luke Ross, Mike Perkins, and even Steve Epting. Sometimes the pages come in black-and-white for apparent time constraints, as opposed to storytelling reasons, but to simply keep up the momentum is very important for a comic series, especially a new one. This is an obvious labor of love, so I can accept the occasional breaks.

The comic can be found here, and comes strongly recommended.

1 comment: