Written and drawn by Bryan Hitch
Published by Image Comics
This new creator-owned miniseries from Bryan Hitch has a simple but potentially exciting premise: A group of actors who have played superheroes in a movie are transported to a parallel Earth to become those superheroes for real. It has been tagged The Avengers Meets Galaxy Quest, which made me think this series may be played for laughs, written as a parody, but in this first issue at least, that doesn’t appear to be the case. This is a straight-forward superhero story. The first complaint I would make is one that I observe in many creator-owned stories which use analogs of mainstream superheroes, which is that they’re a little too obvious. It’s like in Mark Millar’s SUPERIOR, where the character of Superior was an obvious stand-in for Superman. Here, the superheroes are The Olympians, stand-in’s for The Avengers (or more accurately The Ultimates). Leader The Olympian is Thor, The Patriot is Captain America, Tiny Titan is The Wasp, Longbow is Hawkeye, Hardware is Iron Man and Velocity is Quicksilver. As a group they even have a rallying cry “Olympians Attack!”, ala “Avengers Assemble!” I would have preferred a little more creativity being put into the creation of the heroes. But that’s a minor complaint, seriously. It’s obvious that the “stars” of this series are the actors who play these heroes. And on that score Hitch has set up a cast of interesting characters.
Lead actor Chris Reynolds, who plays The Olympian, is the son of a firefighter who was killed in one of the Twin Towers on 9/11, an event that we see in an effective flashback which opens this book, establishing that it does take place in the “real world,” as well as provided some insight into Chris, and why playing a hero is so important to him, perhaps because he wishes he could really be a hero like he thinks his father was. The Patriot is played by Danny West, who is supposed to have overcome a history of drug abuse and wild behavior, much like Robert Downey Jr (whom he is compared to, along with Charlie Sheen, here), but as we see in this issue isn’t quite as clean as his PR makes him out to be. Velocity is played by Black rap star-turned-actor Leo Washington and Tiny Titan is played by Jennifer Sanchez, who’s also hawking a diet book. The last two actors are particularly interesting. It seems that the superhero hardware is supposed to be a man in a wheeelchair who operates a large mechanical suit of armor (similar to Alan Moore’s character Big Brother), and British actor Jeremy Roberts is handicapped for real. British actress Nichola Fox is a former child-actress who’s worked with Jeremy before, and they have a close friendship.
During a star-studded premier in L.A. for the sequel to the first Olympians movie, a giant robot which everyone thought was just a studio prop turns out to be real and starts blasting people with lasers, and then targets the stars. A mysterious man named Smitty whisks them through a door and the next thing they know they’re in New York, except it’s in ruins. Smitty that’s he’s taken them to a world where the superheroes were real, but that the actual Olympians have been killed and now he’s brought these actors here to take their place.
That’s it for the first issue. It’s a decent set-up, establishes the key players and gives us just enought info to keep us intrigued about what comes next. For a man primarily known for his art, Bryan Hitch does a surprisingly good job in the writing department here. He’s clearly studied his frequent collaborator, as it reads very much like a Mark Millar story, but without any over-the-top shock-tactics (yet). And as for the art, it’s vintage Hitch. If you’re a fan of his style, you’ll like it here. So far, so good.