The Greatest American Hero (Comic-Book series)

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Written by William Katt, Christopher Folino, Derek McCaw, and Sean O’Reilly
Drawn by Clint Hilinski
Published by Arcana Comics/Catastrophic Comics

In 2008 Arcana Comics teamed up with Catastrophic Comics to publish a 3-issue miniseries based on the 1980’s hit TV show THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO. This series is not a continuation of the TV show, but rather a complete reboot, so old and new fans should, theoretically have no trouble following the story.

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This series makes a few changes to the TV series origin. Ralph Hinkley is still a High School teacher, in charge of a class of “At Risk” students (who call him “Mr. H”). He bumps into FBI Agent Bill Maxwell while on a field trip with his students in the desert. Ralph tries to be friendly but Bill is a bit of a jackass, so they don’t hit it off in the beginning. But then through a strange set of circumstances, Ralph and Bill encounter a spaceship, and are given the suite which will only work on Ralph, and give him superpowers, along with an instruction book, which Ralph promptly loses.

Ralph lives in an apartment with a roommate named Kevin, and he meets Pam Davidson when he has to go to court to defend one of his students whose been charged with a crime he didn’t commit, and Pam is the D.A. in the case. Meanwhile, there’s a threat from a White Supremacist group that is based in the desert, whom Bill’s partner John was infiltrating, but they found him out and killed him, This group is plotting a chemical weapon attack on the President (who is not Obama, although he’s drawn to look like him), and Ralph manages to foil the plan with his suit, and saves the President’s life in broad daylight.

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Strangely, no one seems to be too shocked by any of this. The President thanks Ralph, and then just goes on his way. I guess there were no news camera’s, or civilians with iPhones around. You’d think the existence of a real life superhero who saves the President from terrorists would be major news, but that’s just written off. Ralph and Bill agree to work together in the future, and Ralph and Pam decide to go on a date. The final issue end with Ralph in his room being woken up by his suit, which is laying on his drawer, and it’s buzzing like an alarm. I guess that’s supposed to be like a cliffhanger, setting up a possible continuation of the series, but I was just bored.

The writing was pretty week. The dialog was stilted, and things like the motivation for the terrorist group were pretty muddled. And, like I said, the lack of any significant reaction to Ralph using the suit in public just made the whole thing seem inconsequential.

And the art was even worse. The lead characters were drawn to look like the cast members from the TV series, but it all looked very rough and amateurish. The books are out of print now, and unavailable digitally, so it would probably be hard to hunt down copies of all three now, and they may be expensive. But I wouldn’t recommend making the effort. I only got them myself because I was a huge fan of the TV series as a kid, but nostalgia can only carry you so far. I trust that the upcoming TV remake will be a lot better (it certainly couldn’t be worse).

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