Written by Seamus Kevin Fahey, Zach Craley | Art by Rubine | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp
So far I’ve found Heroes: Vengeance to be decent, without really stretching itself in any way to make it more of an essential read. The idea of the Heroes Reborn minis is a good one, giving characters from the TV show more of a voice, letting them breathe a bit more than in the constraints of a 42 minute episode that juggles lots of characters and plotlines. The down side of that is sometimes characters should not be fleshed out further, as they were created as a function of plot with a deliberately limited lifespan, and attempts to make more of them just do not work. Unfortunately, so far, El Vengador seems to be drifting that way.
El Vengador is the costumed vigilante alias of Oscar Gutierrez, a man dedicated to fighting crime at street level, keeping his neighbourhood, and family, safe from local gangs. He is a ‘legacy’ hero of sorts, as his grandfather Luis was the costumed wrestler El Vengador. Issue 4 gives us multiple strands, as Oscar continues his fight, brother Carlos has returned from fighting in Afghanistan, and we see in flashback the moral test placed on local hero Luis as he is told to throw his next wrestling bout. We get a lot of back-story, a lot of characters talking, but it never really feels as though we are moving forward.
As with the previous issues, the writers have a very definite theme in mind, and this time round around it is faith, and the loss of it. In the present, Oscar has lost faith in his brother Carlos, back from war but a drunk and partly broken man; in the past, young Carlos loses faith in both his hero, wrestler El Vengador, and his father, when he discovers they are one and the same and have thrown a bout (Luis only threw it to save his sons life, something Oscar knows). That loss of faith connects across the years, tie-ing past and present together.
My problem with Heroes: Vengeance #4, and the series as a whole, is that there just does not seem enough here. There is not enough substance. On paper we have a reasonably engaging cast, a decent (if slightly generic) hero, and decent plotlines drawn out. In practice, four issues of this series could have been compacted into two without the loss of anything but story padding, making for a much tighter and interesting story. It’s not a bad read as such, it’s just a very short read, which makes a reader feel unsatisfied at the end, feeling as though you didn’t receive your money’s worth.
The artwork remains solid, Rubine doing a great job. The present is grimmer and grittier, as befits the world of a street vigilante, the flashbacks of the past brighter and lighter, befitting a more innocent time for the Gutierrez family. Rubine favours uncluttered pages, the story told in large panels laid out right across the page, usually no more than 5 panels. Very effective storytelling, and helps eke out the minimal story to its max. Cannot fault the effort put in, that’s for sure.
On balance, this is not a comic I would recommend to people outside of the Heroes fan base. It adds some depth to the world of the TV show, which is a good thing, just not enough, which is obviously bad. There is little here for general fans of the genre beyond a more generic, Hispanic take on street vigilantes like Daredevil.
El Vengador would have perhaps been better served remaining as a character on the small screen only, a medium he seemed far more at home in.
Heroes: Vengeance #4 is available now from Titan Comics