REAL HEROES #1/ Written & Art by BRYAN HITCH/ Inks by PAUL NEARY/ Colors by LAURA MARTIN/ Letters by CHRIS ELIOPOULOS/ Published by IMAGE COMICS
In a world very much like our own, the biggest film franchise in years is based around a superhero team known as The Olympians. Tragedy strikes at the premiere for Olympians 2: Devastation when the prop robot of one of the film’s villains – the monstrous drones known as Devastators – turns out to be quite real. Before the stars of the film know what is going on, they are ushered away by a security guard through a strange doorway and into another world.
The guard introduces himself as Smitty and explains that he once served The Olympians. The REAL Olympians. On this world a decade earlier, The Olympians were quite real until they died trying to protect New York City from an alien invasion. Now, the villains behind that invasion have learned the secrets of dimensional travel. In order for all of reality itself to be saved, six actors will have to step into the role of a lifetime and become… REAL HEROES!
Real Heroes is Bryan Hitch’s attempt to reenact the story of the movie Galaxy Quest through the lens of The Avengers. This may seem like a spoiler but the hook is made apparent almost immediately, for those who could not guess the direction of this series from the title alone. Whatever else may be said about Real Heroes it is not subtle in regards to either its influences or its story.
This might not be altogether bad if Bryan Hitch showed any interest in moving beyond the basic joke of his premise and attempted something interesting or unique with The Olympians and the actors who portray them. Sadly, he did not. The only real attempt to defy convention lies in the Hawkeye analog being a woman and the pastiche Iron Man being confined to a wheelchair. Even the names of The Olympians are uninspired and one wonders how this issue got to press with heroes named Hardware (Not THAT one!), Velocity (Not THAT one!) and Patriot (Not THAT one! Or THAT one! Or even THAT one!) without any lawsuits being filed.
Out of all the actors, Chris Reynolds receives the most development and yet that definition does little but establish him as a bland, boring boy-scout with daddy issues. Danny West is clearly an expy for Robert Downey Jr. even before the reporter providing backgrounds for all of the actors compares the two for both their tremendous acting talent and their reputation for drug use and womanizing. The rest of the actors can be neatly summarized as good blonde girl, bad brunette girl, old British guy and young black guy.
Thankfully, Bryan Hitch was far more creative in his pencils on this book. Unlike Hitch’s work on The Ultimates, there are no obvious artistic nods to any real world celebrities in the character designs, save that Chris Reynolds does look a little bit like Chris Evans. The action of the issue is well-paced and Hitch proves as capable as ever when it comes to fitting a phenomenal amount of detail into every panel on a page. Hitch’s frequent collaborator, inker Paul Neary, does his usual stellar job as well. The only artistic misstep lies in the coloring by Laura Martin, who curiously colors the hair of Danny West’s lady friend as a brunette when the text specifically refers to her, several times, as a redhead.
In the end, Real Heroes fails to live up to the potential of its premise. It isn’t a bad book, but Bryan Hitch has little to say beyond the base concept of “the cast of Avengers does Galaxy Quest”. Alas, there is little indication that this book will be as inspiring as the former film or as funny as the later.