The crazy thing about Heroes Reborn is it can play its stories in two different ways. Is it a gritty Marvel take on DC Comics tropes, or is it a wildly fun riff on DC Comics that’s playing up the anything-goes “What If?” model? Both have worked so far (examples include Heroes Reborn #4 and Young Squadron) and this week we’re getting the former with Heroes Reborn: American Knights.
Paul Gist and Chris Allen (with Marc Deering) have Batman surrogate Nighthawk to play with in this one-shot, and his Commissioner Gordon is Luke Cage. Hell, there’s even a Nighthawk signal to shine into the sky. Marvel is not shy in the obvious nod to Batman, so if that doesn’t appeal to you (though if you’re a red-blooded comics fan I don’t know how it wouldn’t), this book isn’t for you.
Enter the vigilante, who appears to be a riff on Daredevil, and you have yourself some drama in Washington D.C. where this story is set. As a crime drama, this book works well showing how Cage, who is the main character here, manages to keep the peace and do his job without powers. It’s interesting to see him in this role and see how his character fits, especially with crooked cops working amongst him.
Possibly the most intriguing element in the issue is the continued reveal of Mephisto’s presence in this universe. He’s taken up as the world’s premiere religion, and Gist does well to integrate his presence into the narrative. It’s subtle enough to make sense in the world, but knowing the larger implications, it will have readers’ imaginations running. It’s also cleverly tied into the Daredevil character.
As a street-level superhero book, Allen gets the character designs right. Clothing is a key element of books like this and Allen nails that. GURU-eFX colors the book well with moody blue lighting at night. Hands down, though, Nighthawk’s costume is the coolest thing in this book. The pointy shoulders are incredibly dramatic and imbue a sense of evil. Nighthawk doesn’t get much to do here, but you can gather by his appearances he’s not the peaceful type.
Part of the fun of this event, and this issue, is seeing how familiar characters are integrated in new ways. That ends up being the biggest draw to this one-shot, as the narrative is rather simple. This issue also doesn’t add a lot to the bigger story and instead is a fun homage to Batman comics and Commissioner Gordon.
Heroes Reborn: American Knights is an enjoyable street-level crime comic that’s particularly fun thanks to its homage to Batman comics. It’s a touch on the slow side, but Marvel’s take on Batman is well worth the price of admission.
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