Arachnophobes, walk on by, says Tony.
At the end of issue #2, ‘Godsend,’ alias Farah Nazan, was in the middle of breaking a ‘doctor’ out of jail on the instructions of Angela Petrelli, having taken the mission on faith to save the life of the sickly Malina, the blonde-haired potential saviour of the world.
As it turns out, the doctor in question is none other than Daniel Linderman, former US Army medic, and EVO with the power to heal by touch. He is of course much, much more than that, as viewers of Heroes Reborn will know, and as issue #3 handily reveals early on. After all, he’s in prison when we meet him, and the list of his crimes makes for impressive reading – not for nothing is he played on-screen by the bad guy’s bad guy, Malcolm McDowell.
This issue covers quite some ground, without ever feeling the pace is pushed against its will. We learn a little of Linderman’s history, and he and Farah break out of jail on the same night as another con, who has his escape orchestrated for him by a powerful outsider. More on that in a moment.
The issue also gives us more on Farah’s backstory, particularly her training with her uncle Omar in Pakistan, and the trials she had to go through to essentially earn both her sense of focus and the right to call herself a Lashkiri (one of the ancient mythic protectors of the Sindhi tribe). This is where those of a nervous or particularly arachnophobic disposition need to not read this issue. Not even a little bit. Don’t leave the house, don’t buy the book, just believe me when I tell you there’s a rite of passage involving climbing a tree and big, big, BIG freakin’ spiders. Mooooving right along la la la la la…
Thank you artist Roy Allan Martinez and colourist Ester Salguero for delivering a spiderfest quite creepy enough to give even non-arachnophobes like myself something hairy and creepy and venom-fanged and bug-eyed enough to make us peer nervously into dusty corners, if not exactly keeping us up at night.
And we also begin to see development in terms of Farah’s friendship/maybe-more/it’s-complicated with Jamal, a fellow student she likes, but who, we instinctively feel based on nothing more than his choice of internship, has secrets of which we may not wholeheartedly approve. After he pressed her about her life outside of college in the previous issue, we wondered whether these two were going to be hitting a sticky patch, but this issue, he invites her out to dinner, and Farah responds eagerly, and is on the point of telling him something important when…
Well, you remember in Spider-Man 2 when Peter Parker took Mary Jane to a diner and was about to come clean about his double-life, only to have Doctor Octopus through a car through the window? Clearly, with great power comes a tendency to eat sandwiches laced with broken glass – Farah and Jamal’s date is interrupted by a flaming trashcan of hate. Yes, really, it’s a thing. While sending Jamal to quench the flames and shepherd people to safety, Godsend goes into battle against their unknown assailant. Rather than some random emotionally scarred citizen though, she discovers there’s more to the attack than meets the eye. In fact, it could well be tied back to the other convict to have escaped the night she broke Linderman out of jail, and – in a note that reminds us of Series 1 Daredevil – he runs off rather than reveal anything about the people who put him up to the attack, delivering a genuinely shocking conclusion to the issue.
Write Joey Falco built a lot of texture into issue’s #1 and #2, but here, there’s a more pro-active storytelling style, meaning we feel like we take quite a long journey in quite a short space of time, without ever hurrying to get anywhere. It’s a solid third issue that begins to deepen the connections between the comic-book and TV versions of Farah’s character and life. With Linderman free to walk in the world, we can be fairly sure there will be Additional Stuff Happening very soon, but for now, Falco has wrapped us up in some solid realism in terms of Farah’s life and history and now is able to simply nudge her forward and watch her run along the path he’s prescribed for her. This time, that path takes her, and us in three directions – the conclusion of the prison break-out, the flashback to the arachnophobic nightmare trial, and the date with hate, and like a compelling show, it’s over before we really know it, because each strand of the storytelling has enough inherent interest to keep us moving forward without noticing the story advancing underneath our feet. So – bonus points for Falco on the seeming effortlessness of the storytelling in this issue. But if anyone’s taking top honours this time round, it has to be Martinez on artwork – part of the challenge of Heroes Godsend from a visual perspective is that her EVO power is invisibility. Showing that in a way that doesn’t simply look like an absence of Farah, and especially getting a degree of fight-sequence motion into the story, is by no means an easy task, but here there are several stand-out panels of Godsend kicking some ass, both while fully invisible and – which is even more of a head-shredder – while partially visible. Martinez delivers a vivid effects-shot which makes Godsend’s EVO power believable – a distinct improvement on the Heroes Vengeance series where El Vengador’s EVO power for the most part appeared to be reminiscing and putting on a wrestling mask.
On almost every level so far, Heroes Godsend is more absorbing than Heroes Vengeance was, its philosophical underpinnings rather more pertinent to the wider world in which we find ourselves living today, and its hero rather less in the way of hard work – Falco, for instance, has her recite, and take issue with, the words of a nursery rhyme while she climbs the tree of ultimate spidery squeamishness – and, for instance, when she splats one of the eight-legged bastards into pulp for trying to bite her, Farah’s not afraid to tell it ‘That’s what you get when you fuck with Miss Muffet.’
We like our heroes with a little side-order of sass and wisecrackery, which is perhaps why El Vengador was less engaging than he could have been. Yes, he was responsible and doing good things for his community and all that, but god, he was worthy. With Godsend, there’s some sass, some fire and some personal punch, while still maintaining that sense of actually doing what she does for the common good. By allowing some of that fire into the character, while still giving us some backstory richness and setting the storytelling on a path that links young Farah into older Farah from the on-screen show, Heroes Godsend is developing into a comic-book that’s well worth a read.
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk