So this is how it is with Heroes right now: I TiVo the show on Monday night; spend all day Tuesday desperately trying to avoid spoilers (one co-worker made fun of me by emailing the following: “Mr. Muggles is the mastermind behind everything”); Tuesday night Rox and I watch it after dinner; and on Wednesday I check out various online deconstructions: TWoP, Sepinwall, Poniewozik , EW, etc.
This isn’t so different than my current pattern with a lot of other shows — TiVo, watch, deconstruct — except that Heroes also has something else that I check out on Wednesdays — the online comics on NBC.com.
Obviously, tons and tons of shows have official online sites, many of which have some pretty cool stuff — deleted scenes, podcasts, interactive games, etc — and so this is just one of several that I could have chosen to highlight. But I think that the Heroes online comics are an example of a Web extra done right.
Of course, NBC is all pretentious and calls them “novels,” but I’ve come to, if not love, at least accept a bit of pretension with Heroes, a show that clearly thinks very very highly of itself, despite some of the obvious weaknesses and glaring plot holes. Which are usually along the lines of “if so-and-so had such-and-such power, why didn’t they use it when this-and-that were happening? Oh and the fact that they still haven’t figured out how to make Niki/Jessica all that interesting.
All of which I gladly ignore when I’m watching the show (especially this weeks awesome, awesome alternate-reality — or is it? — episode) because they’ve managed to combine Lost’s sense of mythology with 24’s ability to move things right along. And right now, Heroes is way more fun than either one of those shows, because the former is stingy with the action and the latter has run out of mythology.
Heroes, of course, has so much mythology that the official NBC site for the show is bursting at the seams with it. And while I really don’t have any desire to follow Suresh’s map or join the Primatech Paper company, I think that the comic books really work well, for a few reasons:
- First off, the comic book motif fits nicely with the overall conceit of the show, which is to try to bring comic book sensibility to Television. I’ve always only been a dabbler in comic book culture, so I can’t really comment on this, but I do know that doing a series of online comics for this show is a very natural extension.
- Next, the comic books provide some good– and sometimes needed — backstory to characters and situations that are only briefly touched upon in the actual show. Wanna know more about the Hana, the Wireless chick? Or Eden? Or the FBI agent’s first encounter with Sylar? Or how Hiro built the timeline strings that helped him figure out how to save the world? It’s all here.
I was going to say that the comic books were the equivalent of deleted scenes, but in a way, they are more, because there is sometimes a total geek argument over whether deleted scenes are considered canon, but there is no question that these comic books are supposed to be part of the Heroes canon.
- Finally, even when the show was on hiatus, the comics weren’t — meaning that we could get a little new content every week. I wonder if that will remain true even after the season finale.
My one problem, I guess, is that they are a tad too short, and sometimes the poor writing gremlins that afflict the actual show show up in the comics. They also abandon storylines just as they are getting good, which I understand in terms of not wanting to give the audience too much, but is frustrating as a reader. As are, at least to me, the forced attempts at interactivity that sometimes show up. I really don’t need to help Hana by clicking on the e-mail that they’ve sent me if I’ve registered at Hereos 360.
I also wonder whether or not it’s good advertising strategy for the Nissan Versa to be associated with the destruction of New York City.
But those are just minor quibbles. On the whole, if you’ve found yourself getting into Heroes at all this year, you should check out the online comics.