Webcomics You Should Be Reading No. 2
Submitted by Scott Story on May 5, 2009 - 21:42
A you can imagine, Heroes Inc., by Scott Austin, is right down my alley. Gritty, tough-as-nails, no-nonsense superheroes is what I do, after all, and Heroes Inc. fits that description as well.
For a long time, Johnny Saturn was just about the only serious superhero comic on the web. Others had come and gone, and many webcomics with a superhero flavor came onto the scene, but that was the exception, not the rule. There were strips with super heroic elements, such as Side Chicks, Magellan, Mind Mistress, the Vanguard, and a few others, but each of these were mined from different parts of the genre. Then, Union of Heroes showed up, followed by Heroes Inc., and suddenly Johnny Saturn didn’t feel so alone.
In terms of writing, Heroes Inc. has the feel of a modern spy thriller, or perhaps a military thriller. The writing is tight, the characterization is compact, and the pace seems to be building to something big. The concept that immediately appealed to me is that of old superheroes being used as genetic donors for a new era of supers.
When it comes to art, there is no doubt that Scott Austin is a very talented illustrator, and that his vision is unique. The penciling is rock solid, and his figure work is beautiful. His inking is non-traditional, made up of thin, choppy lines and splashes of black, giving the art a grim, urban feel. Scott’s coloring is quite distinct, using a very desaturated palette, lots of grays, and blotchy, texture-full rendering. It’s not realism he’s interested in here, but the stylized reality of indeterminates and unknowns. If I had to boil down Scott’s artwork to one adjective, I would call it ‘edgy.’
Heroes Inc. characters are loosely derived from the Nedor characters, Golden Age superheroes that have fallen into the public domain. I first encountered versions of these characters in Alan Moore’s Terra Obscura series, but that was not to be the last. In the intervening years, we’ve seen them adapted by AC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Image, and others. Heroes Inc. is perhaps the most original adaptation of these characters yet.
In terms of narrative, Scott Austin is quite skilled, and his action is often paired with parallel captions. He makes good use of this technique, and he makes it make sense.
In summation, I wholeheartedly endorse Heroes Inc.