Terminal Hero grabbed my attention for two reasons and they both happen to be because of the creative team. One is the writer, Peter Milligan (writer of Shade the Changing Man), and two is the artist, Piotr Kowalski (Marvel Knights: Hulk). An interesting line-up to be sure, but let’s see what they got. Is it good?
Terminal Hero #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Rory Fletcher has gotten the worst news of his life. He has an inoperable brain tumor and he has two months to live. However, just when he has given up hope and ready to accept his fate, a friend of his comes to him with an idea. There was a top secret experiment that went on a couple of years ago called Treatment Q that seemed to have worked on treating people like him, though with some rather strange side effects. His friend recreates the treatment for Rory and things begin to go in an odd direction.
I did not know the sound one makes when they are being burned alive was “uh.”
Well, I’m rather unimpressed after reading this and I think I know exactly why: this comic is incredibly rushed and has terrible story structure. It’s trying its hardest to cram as much story possible into one single issue: Rory’s backstory, how Rory got into the situation in the first place, the aftermath of the treatment, dealing with the consequences of it, and also trying to flesh his character all at the same time. The comic ends up not being able to balance any of these plot threads successfully and leads to the story either rushing/glancing over plot points randomly (such as the actual treatment itself) or adding story sequences without any care or reason (suddenly, we find out out of the blue that he had a sister with a bad heart that died tragically). This leads to a very hollow and rather dull experience.
Of course, we’ve got the characters: the main character himself, Rory Fletcher, and the rest of the cast, so how are they? Pretty lackluster and often very unlikeable. Rory is not particularly memorable or often likeable (though the comic, the character, and even the solicit try to say otherwise), being rude or worse at times. The comic does try at points to make you sympathize with him, but again, the story is very bad at introducing these elements that just come out of nowhere and have little effect. It’s one thing to have a main character who is questionable, it’s another thing to botch adding depth to them that would help us understand that person. The rest of the characters are blank slates with bare bones personality. We know very little about them, given little to remember them, and they can often can be jerks at points. It’s not a cast of characters that you’ll care about here ultimately.
You have a wonderful bedside manner doctor.
With regards to the rest of the writing, it’s hit or miss here. Premise-wise, it’s not a bad idea and has a lot of potential with it. A character getting a second chance at life and now with superhuman abilities, battling a darkness within that came with the abilities. The story and execution just messes it all up, not properly explaining these things. The story flow is poor due to awkward and abrupt transitions between scenes and character moments. The dialogue and narration aren’t too bad here, and in fact are probably the best part of the writing outside of the forced exposition drops. The ending is okay with some interesting potential depending on how the comic goes from here, but that’s it.
The artwork is probably the best thing about the book in general. Characters look fine and generally very expressive, though the main character himself looks too much like Simon Cooke from Image’s Sex. Layouts are average and the coloring is alright. The superpowers are well drawn and do lead to some very interesting and creepy imagery at points. It’s easily some of the best artwork any Dynamite book has ever had, but that’s not really saying much.
Sorry sweetie, but I gotta get back to Saturn City.
Is It Good?
Terminal Hero #1 is a swing and a miss. There is potential in the premise and the artwork does help give the book an extra edge, but the writing and storytelling here is just so clunky. It needs a lot of work done before it’s really worth considering a purchase and I just can’t recommend it, even if you are a fan of this creative team.