Review - The F1rst Hero #1

"What's at stake here is nothing less than the safety and security of the human race."

People fear the unknown. Whenever you take them out of their comfort zones, there's something of an uneasiness that forces them to want to retreat back to the familiar. That retreat is often done at the expense of progress and if there ever is a case where people are shown to have superpowers, it's expected that those without won't react very well. Then again, if those with powers go insane as they do in The F1rst Hero #1 from Action Lab Entertainment, then it's likely no one will react well. The book is written by Anthony Ruttgaizer, illustrated by Phillip Sevy and colored/lettered by Fred C. Stresing.

Thanks to an assassination attempt on the President, the world knows there those among them who carry superpowers who become known as Extrahumans. The thing is, those superpowers prompt the bearer to go insane and become a threat to society. Jake Roth is a soldier who finds out in dire circumstances that he also has those powers and is forced to reconcile keeping both them and his sanity. Ultimately, Jake is faced with the decision to keep them under wraps and save himself or risk hurting those around him by using the powers.

It's easy to write off The F1rst Hero #1 as something of an X-Men clone and in some ways you wouldn't be far off. The main crux behind The F1rst Hero #1 is that there are those with superpowers who have been outlawed and when powers manifest, it's very trying for the host. Ruttgaizer seems content to leave the X-Men comparisons at that though, as he fills the rest of the book with rhetoric on the ugliness of war on foreign soil. Jake is a soldier whose liberating talents aren't welcome and Ruttgaizer puts him through the normal kidnapping paces. Presenting the dilemma to him where he must decide whether or not he can really control his powers is intriguing and offers a thought-process behind questions such as "if you could fly, where would you go?" There's a larger concept at play as well, in that it's not entirely clear if everyone with powers really is going insane or if it's just that the government is worried about them doing so.

There's a good amount of attention paid to detail artistically, with Sevy transporting the reader to a town in the throes of "freedom." The environment looks sufficiently challenging for Jake and the characters effectively react to gunfire and urban combat. There are some panels where Jake looks a little under-illustrated and his emotion at the time doesn't quite translate to the page. The transition between powers on and off is pretty deftly handled by Sevy; a transition further accented by Stresing's colors. The colors in the book skew military, with greens and browns pervasive throughout, but there are some instances where reds and oranges break up that palette.

On first read, The F1rst Hero #1 doesn't really seem to tread new ground when it comes to powers blending in with society. And with superhero films all the rage, there seems to be a growing trend toward grounding them in some sort of reality in a sense. What Ruttgaizer seemingly hopes to capitalize on is a greater sense of self-purpose and one's place in a world that doesn't seem to want to embrace change. The art style is reminiscent of some books in the 80s and Sevy offers up characters who look convincing as they go insane. There are some rather existential, identity crisis themes throughout The F1rst Hero #1 that could get pretty deep if the creative team pursue them over the course of the remaining three issues.

The F1rst Hero #1 is slated for release in August with two covers. Lee Moder cover will be $3.99 for 32 pages (order with Diamond code JUN14 0756) and the Jamal Igle (limited to 1500 copies (order with Diamond code JUN14 0757) is priced at $4.99.