By far one of the superior sci-fi television programs of the last few years, at least if you’re talking first series, Heroes owes at least some of its success to the path that comics have been taking over the last few years. About a group of genetically advanced humans whose rogue genes have brought out super powers (healing, super-hearing, time travel, flying, future-seeing etc) and how the world around them feels it needs to react to defend normal people from them, it’s a powerful drama that takes some of the best elements from a range of recent comics and ties them into a super-plot of epic proportions.
This book collects the web comics that accompanied the series when it aired in the US. They tell stories around the characters – things that were perhaps originally planned for television but that there wasn’t enough room for. This is interesting, as it’s a real companion piece to the show, not a reworking in comic form. Although it’s not necessary to read this to enjoy the series, there’ll be a number of times going through the book when you think things like ‘oh, that’s what happened to her’ or ‘so that’s why he turned up then.’ The clues have been left in the TV programme without getting in the way, but the book gives you even more.
The first few stories might leave you wondering what the point is. Perhaps the weakest thing about the book is that the stories are only six pages each, because they were published on the web first and each story appeared as an episode came out. Later on, multi-part stories make more of the plot and characters, but the first few are designed for viewers who don’t know the whole story, so are a bit wishy-washy when read like this, with full knowledge of what happened in the show and how the characters develop over time. This fades in the latter half of the book, where revelations about characters’ past and present are provided, genuinely heightening our enjoyment.
So, if you haven’t seen the show yet, get it on DVD – we doubt you’ll regret it. And if you buy this at the same time, you could read it as intended, a chapter at a time as you watch the show (in fact, more of a guide to what comic was online when particular episodes aired might have been a nice addition). If you’re reading the book retrospectively, don’t expect the enjoyment to really kick in until you’re about half way through, when the show has shown more of its hand and we know about most of the characters. It’s a worthy accompanying volume though, which makes something of a pleasant change for a comic based around a TV programme.