Exploring what can happen when the power of a super hero falls into the hands of the wrong person, Pfeifer rounds out HERO with a storyline that delves into darkness. The device has fallen into the hands of various personality types; children, wannabe Internet action heroes, a business man, a washed up guy in a nowhere town. But until this final arc those who had taken possession of the device had never used their powers to do anything truly evil.
Everything changes, though, when a psycho claims the device. A serial killer happens upon the device in the river, where it washed up on shore. How do we know he’s a crazy person? When we first meet him he’s sitting by the side of a river, at night, with a body wrapped in a sheet. Plus…he looks quintessentially creepy.
Pfeifer uses these last issues to tie everything together. Robby Reed, that convict we had been exposed to in bits and pieces over the last dozen or so issues, becomes the main attraction. Maintaining, in these earlier scenes, an also-creepy demeanor, this now seems like misdirection. His obsession with the device is rooted in an event he saw when, as a boy, he turned into a time-traveling hero who witnessed an event involving himself in the and the deaths of many people in the future.
I am never one to spoil stories for people and this is a solid effort which does a really good job of culminating what Pfeifer and his artists were attempting to capture: the story of how ordinary people handle awesome powers and abilities. Each, as we learned, struggled with the magnitude of it. Some were selfish, some were lost, others tried to do good where others sought personal gain. The levels of evil displayed by Pfeifer’s end-villain is outstanding writing. The creativity with which he allows this character to interact with and control the world around him is exemplary.
Probably the most interesting part of this arc is: when you think it’s over, it’s not. I imagined that, like the majority of the previous arcs, after 3-4 issues it would end and a new character would take over; but not this time. Robby Reed and others fight this new villain (in his various forms…) through numerous issues. Each of the characters we’ve met in the past appear in these final issues, but none of it is forced. It’s like a montage episode from a sitcom, but often times there the character re-introduction tend to feel jaded and unnecessary. In HERO each of these characters is connected by a power and a force none of them understand or can explain; save Robby.
I don’t often feel that a series stands the test of time; HERO is one of few exceptions. I’ve read this series several times now and each time it has not disappointed and set against contemporary and current works the book is high quality writing and art. Overall I give HERO an A for using an old concept in a very original way. Pfeifer could have stayed the course and done what so many had done before with the Hero device stories, but he went beyond the veil.
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Till next Wednesday…