I liked Local Heroes and I’m not completely sure why. It is a pleasant example of a superhero comic — with more than solid art and serviceable writing. It’s not spectacular, but it is early in its run and while it hasn’t taken any risks, it also hasn’t taken any missteps yet.
Local Heroes is by Keith Quinn and focuses on a young would-be superhero nicknamed "The Squire" who has joined up with UNIONS (Unified Non-profit Identification and Organization Network of the Supernormal) Local Chapter 37. The other members of the local chapter are Mystery-man, Silent Knight, and American Spirit. They also have an administrator, Min Dae-soo and a computer named Hoffa.
This could be an interesting spin on the typical superhero team concept, but at least so far Quinn hasn’t made much of the trade union angle. In fact, Quinn describes "unions" on the about page as "a not-for-profit organization of researchers, adventurers, and super-powered heroes". That’s too bad – there’s certainly no reason one couldn’t incorporate aspects of real unions like collective bargaining with employers or even labor market value theory into a superhero comic.
Without making use of that potential angle, and this early in its run, Local Heroes does not venture far from standard superhero story elements. There is an opening storyline about Squire meeting his fellow superheroes and then the second story concerns a fairly standard search and destroy mission to take out what is ultimately a rather bland super-villian. The third story has just started — it’s too early to make anything of it.
But despite the so-far average storylines, there are things to like about it. And basically I think I responded to the niceness inherent in it so far. This isn’t quite a comic for little kids, but it’s also not a post-Watchmen modern superhero tale. It’s an intelligent spin on the type of simple, more moralistic tales that filled comic books for decades.
Quinn’s artwork is solid and I really liked his decision to leave it largely uninked. Every now and then the all-pencil artwork doesn’t stand out enough, but generally it does work. His character designs are fun and he has put some thought into giving each character visuals appropriate to them. He makes the effort to add plenty of sharply-rendered details to the environment in each panel and that definitely adds a lot.
He also has a good sense of how to portray a fight scene – they’ve been entertaining enough and his visuals, unlike some Michael Bay movies, give you a sense of the action without losing track of what’s going on. Since action scenes are important for a comic like this, it bodes well for Quinn that he can stage them properly.
Despite my earlier mixed review of the storylines to date, Quinn isn’t a bad writer. The dialogue moves quickly and at times is funny in a very gentle way. Whether it’s conscious or not, Quinn is working almost entirely in G-rated territory and for a webcomic that is actually kind of shocking. It’s also not the easiest thing to do.
I expect that if Quinn can develop more original storylines that also help to develop his characters then Local Heroes could become an enjoyable regular read for many.