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Virtual heroes

Virtual heroes
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First Published: Fri, Aug 08 2008. 11 56 PM IST

Word power: Heroes, the book, introduces some new characters.
Word power: Heroes, the book, introduces some new characters.
Updated: Fri, Aug 08 2008. 11 56 PM IST
Some critics have dismissed it as a pale X-Men rip-off but NBC’s TV show Heroes has its fans (and lots of them actually). Created by Tim Kring and with the redoubtable Tim Sales (best known for several Batman books) as a consultant, Heroes told the story of several ordinary people across the world with extraordinary powers. Since this is an American TV show, these people with superpowers are being hunted by a shadowy organization that may be part of the government and by a serial killer with superpowers.
Word power: Heroes, the book, introduces some new characters.
NBC parlayed the show’s success on TV and created a sort of virtuous cycle (this is, after all, a business paper and it is only fair that we use economic terms sometimes even in a column on comics) around it by creating a Web comic 9th Wonders that was on the official Heroes website. Given the nature of the medium, these were episodic short-takes that sort of filled in the blanks in the show, introduced new characters, and told readers (and viewers) more about old characters.
DC and Wildstorm have now collected 34 of these webisodes into a book (Heroes Volume 1). The best thing about the book is that although there are 34 stories, each is around six pages long. That means it can be read in less than 3 minutes. And the entire book in a little over an hour and a half by most people (it took this writer around an hour, actually). Most of this writer’s reading of comic books and graphic novels has been through so-called trade paperbacks which collect maybe 20 or 30 issues of a weekly comic book, edit and add a bit to those, and price them out of the market! The weekly (or fortnightly or even monthly) nature of these books means that they are overwritten with writers stretching them through weeks and months, even years. The Web, however, doesn’t allow that primarily because the reader is just a click away from other attractions (including fleshbot).
The interesting thing is that when the same webcomics are rendered in print, much like these episodes of Heroes, they are simply brilliant.
Which fits in with another of this writer’s pet theories that flies in the face of prevailing wisdom about the Web being the death of language. To the contrary, it will probably improve everyone’s writing.
Write to Sukumar at cultfiction@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Aug 08 2008. 11 56 PM IST
More Topics: X-Men | Tim Kring | Lounge |