Appropriately for a comic that is aping the Distinguished Competition, Heroes Reborn is the Two-Face of comics. About half of it is a fun, lively romp as the
Flash Whizzer Blur races through the Dread Dimension to rescue his soul from Wanda Maximoff, who has super speed now. Frederico Vicenti’s art appropriately coveys speed, if not surrealism, and it fits the subject matter well. And taking this comic as that, it’s pretty fun.
But Jason Aaron tries, about a third of the way in, to do something deeper. He tries to do something about zen, and finding your center, and maybe something about our hyper-media-focused current lifestyle. And it is, frankly, kinda dumb. There’s no real thematic depth conveyed in the pages given, and there isn’t really a good reason given for the solution to actually resolve the story.
But, in a sense, does that matter? Listen, the playground of superhero comics is ultimately about people smashing two action figures together. Sometimes the action figures are kissing, sometimes they’re fighting, but the depth is often not that deep. And that’s okay. Not every comic needs to be Maus or All-Star Superman. And frankly, in a world where far too often the people who are praised as the deepest minds often just write comics about how important comics are – cough, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, cough – maybe we should adjust our aims down a bit. It’s okay to just want to read a comic about a man punching a giant grizzly bear or having a footrace with the abstract concept of Eternity, after you finish reading your Pynchon or Adichie or Melville or what have you. We can have popcorn comics, too.
Aaron, however, tends to go to this atheist well that says that ‘God is bad, people who believe in God are dumb, yadda yadda yadda.’ Sometimes that results in good comics, like, say, the first half of Thor: God of Thunder. More often, that results in bad comics, like his Asgard-Shiar War arc in The Mighty Thor, or when he tries to say stuff about Heaven and God and such in Ghost Rider. But while he is doing this, he does this gonzo, absurdly fun, comic book nonsense that can distract you from the very stupid themes that are going on in the background. Asgardians riding flying boats into a space empire, Malekith using Venom as a sword, The Orb detonating a bomb of secrets, an army of Wolverines with guns that shoot cancer – or, as you get here, a superintelligent bear who rules over a city of Grizzlies deep in the heart of Russia.
And that’s ultimately what you’re getting in Heroes Reborn #3. It’s a dumb story. It is. There isn’t a lot of depth here. But it’s also a story where the
Flash Whizzer Blur races Wanda Maximoff through a Kirby-Ditko magical dimension, fights Mindless Ones, and rides a giant magic whale. I don’t think you can like superhero comics and not grin as you read it.
There’s also a backup about the Phoenix Force, as currently used by Echo. There has not been a good Phoenix story since the end of Grant Morrison’s X-Men, and arguably not since Alan Davis stopped writing Excalibur.
I can’t recommend this as a good story, or a good comic in its own right. But it’s a fun story, and that’s a virtue in and of itself.
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