Creator Owned Heroes #1

by Dave Morris on June 09, 2012

"Creator Owned Heroes" is best described as a comic/magazine hybrid.  It's a concoction of ideas, the recipe for which is as follows: 
Mix two parts eleven-page original comics, add several teaspoons of introductory articles by the creators, toss in a little cosplay (fun with costumes, to the layman) and top it off with a short interview with powerhouse Neil Gaiman. 
Noble is the cause for which this book aims to stand, and it's so very appropriate that its release date coincides with that of the controversial first issue of "Before Watchmen". Sheer coincidence?  It's possible, but unlikely.
This is hardly the place to breach that topic. But it's impossible to review this book without at least mentioning one of the far too numerous cases of corporate bullying that motivated people to create a book like this in the first place.   
Alright.  Duly mentioned.  Now on to the content.
The first comic, "American Muscle", written by Steve Niles and drawn by Kevin Mellon, is unfortunately a bland and forgettable read.  It's set in yet another post apocalyptic world and centers around a small group of people who drive classic cars trying their best to survive. The characters aren't very interesting and the cliffhanger on the last page is as tired and played-out as they come. The artwork is nice enough and serves its purpose but isn't anything to get too excited about. Niles, in his article near the back of the book, says that he's "always wanted to do a car comic.  Not like Speed Racer, but something where muscle cars were vital to the visuals and story".  It's still very early, but this comic doesn't stand out as doing either of those things. Of course, one must consider the higher degree of difficulty involved in delivering a fulfilling read when you've only got eleven pages to work with; essentially half that of an average comic. So it's entirely possible that this story and its characters will get more interesting with future installments.
The second comic, "Trigger Girl 6", is a much better first issue.  The gorgeous artwork of Phil Noto steals the show with its eye popping color and Moebius influenced pencils.  The opening six pages in particular are something you'll want to see.  The story, co-written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, concerns itself with a female killing machine out doing what she was designed to do. They combine smart and snappy dialogue with a narrative that skips along at a strong pace. It feels more dense than "American Muscle", and more substantial.  Full marks go to this team for delivering a fine first issue while working under the restrictions imposed by the limited page count. It will do much to encourage readers to return for the second one.
As for the articles, they are largely there to explain where the book came from and where it hopes to go. Steve Bunche writes a quick 'history of comics 101', which touches on the relationship that has existed between creator and publisher since the Golden Age. These articles are interesting enough and the content makes sense for a first issue.  Here's hoping that future articles will be honest and edgy in their discussions of creator exploitation.
The interview with the endlessly charming Neil Gaiman (pun intended) is shorter than most will want but is still both interesting and inspiring.   
"Creator Owned Heroes" is worth your time and money.  It's crammed with content and comes in a format that is different enough to warrant an honest look.  It creates a platform where more casual fans will hopefully learn about the injustices committed against some of the most important creators in the history of the medium, all while enjoying some new comics. 
Stories - Steve Niles, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray
Artwork - Kevin Mellon, Phil Noto
Additional Contribution - Steve Bunche
Letters - BIll Tortolini
Cover - Phil Noto
Publisher - Image Comics
Price - $3.99 

Our Score:


A Look Inside


lucstclair's picture

Sounds like Dark Horse Presents, but for Image. Great review.