Thursday, November 30, 2006

For Dr. Scott

Anyone else think Dr. Mid-Nite should have a theme song and back up singers?

Dr. Mid-Nite, we're gonna clean up this town.
(Dr. Mid-Nite! Dr. Mid-Nite!)

Dr. Mid-Nite, we're gonna lay some loser out.
(Dr. Mid-Nite! Dr. Mid-Nite!)

We're gonna solve the latest mystery;

We're gonna take your medical history.

We're gonna find out what it is all about.
(What is all about! What is all about!)

Dr. Mid-Nite, we're gonna clean up this town.

after Clapton

Re: Boys #5

God dammit, Garth!

The first rule of burger joint is you DO NOT TALK ABOUT BURGER JOINT!

Why couldn't you have said Island Burger on 51st and 9th? Or, I don't know, Peter Lugar's or something. I mean, yeah, if you've set up in the Flatiron building, the Shake Shack really is at your feet, and that was a nice scene, but still... burger joint is crowded enough as it is without having every fanboy in Manhattan jamming the booths hoping to get a glimpse of you or Darick!

And while you're here, there's a few other things I'd like to tell you. First, pick up the GOD DAMNED PACE! I've paid good money for "my favorite heroes getting the crap kicked out of them" and we're only getting to that in issue 6? C'mon! That should have happened back in issue 4, or 3 even. By now the Seven should be already be moving against the Boys, or at least we should have been given a wider view of your world (how many super teams ARE there? and where are the super villains?)

And Lamplighter, your Green Lantern analogue that Homelander implicitly killed, is he really dead or merely crippled, so that he can join the Boys later when they bring down the Seven? And who was the guy A-Train replaced? Was he killed by the Homelander too?

That said, I am, in fact, enjoying the series, which drops just enough humanizing details in along with the obscene and ridiculous to keep me emotionally tethered even while pushing my envelope. But I may just switch to trades, which is, after all, how I read Preacher, so maybe that's what works best for you.



p.s. The Frenchman. That's Grant Morrison in a pair of goggles and a outrageous accent, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Funny, She Doesn't Look...

Dan Didio, re: new Infinite Christmas Special.

"we have the first solo appearance of Batwoman in a Hanukah story as well"

Ruh... really?

On the one hand, as one of the Chosen People, I appreciate the acknowledgment that not everyone celebrates Christmas this time of year. And it's always nice to see other children of Abraham running around kicking ass.

That said, I'm always a little weirded out by the off-handed shout out to the Torah people we get every December for what, in the larger picture, isn't really that important a holiday. "We got a good deal on the oil!" That's basically what it's about. It's only elevated because it happens to fall around the same time as Christmas, and if the Jewish calendar was a little different, you'd all be wishing me a Happy Simchat Torah.

I'd be much happier if, instead of getting 1 out of 8 pages devoted to Kate Kane lighting the menorah, the Infinite Christmas Special was allowed to be just the Infinite Christmas Special (And it has to be the Infinite Christmas Special because the pun wouldn't work otherwise), and instead we got a Passover special come April (and no, this doesn't count).

Heck, they could do a follow up to Day of Vengeance, called "Day of Atonement," where the Spectre goes around apologizing one by one to all the magic users he attacked.

Like My Name is Earl with phenomenal, cosmic power.

Which is a long way of saying, thanks for the shout out, DC, but where's the honey and apples on Rosh Hashanah?

Nature, Nurture, Darkseid

On the surface, Jack Kirby's Fourth World saga is a simple adaptation of Manichean philosophy: there's a world of Good, New Genesis, and a world of Evil, Apokolips, and all of human existence is in the narrow strip where they overlap and conflict.

But the crucial story of the New Gods, what, if this were a "real" mythology, would be the central myth, (and incidentally, one of Jack Kirby's favorite stories of his own,) is "The Pact." The Pact is a very un-Manichean story in which Highfather (Good) makes a deal with Darkseid (Evil) in the name of peace, and seals this deal with the extreme measure of trading sons (which is a step up from just spitting in your palm, I guess).

In any morality as black and white as Manicheanism, such a pact would be doomed to failure (Mr. A would not approve!) because Evil would not honor any such contract, placing Good in the weaker position that they could only get out of by breaking the contract themselves, erasing the difference between Good and Evil. And, indeed, Darkseid intends to subvert the pact from the beginning.

But instead of leading to the downfall of New Genesis, The Pact works out in Highfather's favor! Because, despite Darkseid's plotting, the actual result of the Pact is that the traded sons--Orion, who has the nature of Apokolips and the nurturing of New Genesis, and Scott Free, who has the nature of New Genesis and the... ah, "nurturing" of Apokolips--BOTH end up fighting for the side of Good!

There are a few lessons to be drawn from that. First is that Good is not something that resides solely in one's blood or one's environment, but in both. Secondly, Good is inherently more compelling than Evil. Evil is NOT a force equal and opposite to Good. Evil may, in fact, be the mere absence of Good, a void that can be filled through whichever medium, genes or education, that is available to Good. Third, there are therefore no truly evil people, even beings that supposedly embody Evil. Any being capable of choosing, any being capable of change, has the potential to be Good!

Consider Big Barda. Unlike Scott and Orion, she is Apokolips born and bred. It is therefore neither in her nature nor her nurture to be Good. As a pure creature of Apokolips, there should be no Good in her. And yet...

And yet, by meeting and getting to know Mr. Miracle, the character who perhaps best embodies Kirby's ideas about what Good is, she falls in love with him and the idea of freedom he represents. He inspires her to be better, to treat others with respect, to demand the freedom that he himself refused to ever relinquish, and fight for the freedom of others. (Also take note that their ideal of freedom, their escape from the high fantasy drama of the Fourth World saga, is a mundane suburban existence as husband and wife. Which just goes to show you don't need to be a punk to be a rebel.)

This is a much more nuanced, much more hopeful, meditation on the struggle between Good and Evil than most superhero stories; heck, there's more depth in this story than in a lot of mythology. The idea that even demons can be redeemed, that all that separates a Fury from a Goddess is a light to show the way, shows a more sophisticated system of thought than naming the villain "Dark Side" would imply.

And, perhaps, that is Darkseid's true villainy: that he disguises the world as one of sharp divides, Us and Them, black and white, Good and Evil, in eternal conflict, never-ending battle, where causes are defended not by their inherent value but by the force of arms. It takes a (Mr.) Miracle to show the folly in this ideology, that the New Gods of both sides have more in common with each other than differences, and that the Good can trust the rightness of their cause to appeal through dialogue and contracts.

It suggests that the best way to combat true evil in the world is negotiation, compromise, listening. Because compromising your goals does not compromise the good of your cause, and somehow, in some way, Good will out!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"One Punch! One Punch!"

... and for learning to solve interpersonal problems the superhero way, indestructible cheerleader Claire Bennett takes the top position as best character on Heroes, knocking heavy favorite Hiro Nakamura into a solid second.

Perennial underdog Peter Petrelli came through with a surprisingly strong showing this week, and don't forget dark horse contender Matt Parkman, who had a by.

However, Mohinder? Has got to go.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Bought Final Fantasy XII yesterday.

Going away for a while.

Would appreciate a phone call now and then reminding me to eat.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

More of Tomorrow's Comics: TODAY!

Word balloon I expect to see before the end of 52:

My name is Renee Montoya.
You killed my partner.
Prepare to die.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The All Nude Atom

After yesterday's post, I think it important to point out that DC isn't limiting its reader education program to the female anatomy. From the cover of the All-New Atom #8:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you:

the penis!

Jesus, Gail, enough with the naked superheroes!

(thanks, Dorian, for the catch!)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dear Maxine Hunkel

I'm looking forward to meeting you.

I like your influences, both the original and the robotic Red Tornadoes, and from what little I've seen of you, you strike me as a fun character, a cheerful presence that the Justice Society and the DCU in general just doesn't have enough of.

And let me tell, I LOVE your costume. It might just be my thing for redheads, but well, look at you.

Your hair is shiny and voluminous, your wrap is playing in the wind, and I like the tornado symbol on your chest. You even remembered to smile for your portrait, which is more than I can say for that grump Hawkman.

Though, if I can offer some advice: I know you're super excited about joining one of the big teams and having your own superhero codename ("Cyclone," I like), but please remember to put on some underwear before going out to fight crime.

No reason for Solomon Grundy to get a peak at your secret garden.

(by the way, three makes it a conspiracy, so I have a new tag)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lex Luthor is Smarter Than You

Second hardest character in fiction to write? A protagonist that's smarter than the you are. If someone is a certifiable genius, if, in fact, her super power is being a genius, then how are you ever going to come up with something so clever and wise that it earns the distinction of intelligence beyond the merely human.

There's ways of writing around it, I suppose. The Richards Method is to have your character be a genius in a completely made-up field of study. If Richards expertise is Cosmic Radiation collection and manipulation, if he builds the world's best energy transmitter and no one else can, then he's a genius and no reader could say otherwise.

There's the Batman Method, where the character figures out instantly what took the writer three years to figure out, and without the advantage of being able to change the facts to fit the theory.

And there's the Ozymandius Method, in which the character does something completely insane, but since it causes everything to work out in his favor, he must, ipso facto, be a genius. Because it's the only explanation.

But when the character is a master strategist, who has all the time in the world to perfect her magnum opus, then anything you could have her do is, by definition, not something that requires a 12th level intellect to conceive of.

But that's the second hardest job. The hardest is coming up with an ANTAGONIST that's smarter than you are. Because then, not only do you need to come up with a plan so fiendishly clever that you wouldn't have thought of it in a million years, you then have to come up with someway of foiling said plan that doesn't invalidate the genius of it in the first plan. So you have to outthink yourself, and then outthink yourself again. And if you found a flaw, an obvious flaw, then your genius villain should have caught it in the first place.

Your only recourse is to hide said flaw in your villain's particular blind spot. Superman #2 is the almost Platonic Example of how to do it. Lex Luthor fairly ruthlessly and easily discovers Clark's secret in the space of one issue, proving that he is, in fact, an evil genius. But he dismisses the answer out of hand because he can't imagine someone with that kind of power not using it to subjugate others. That fundamental distrust is what makes Lex a villain, and what makes his thinking flawed.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Split the Atom!

Whoa. Hey there, Will Pfeifer. How's it going? Glad you liked the review.

As long as I have your here, would you mind if I ran a few things by you.

First, this is the second time that I got independent confirmation that my recommendation can be used to sell books. Will, would you mind passing that on to the DC publicity department? Maybe they have a review copy of an upcoming book lying around or something. I'm not saying anything... I'm just saying...

Second, I was wondering what happened to Captain Atom right after the end of the mini-series. There are four (4) different comics that purport to show the return of Captain Atom to the DCU, and they are all... different.

Superman / Batman #20 had a bald, amnesiac Captain Atom possessed by the Kryptonite Man. Infinite Crisis #7 had a confused Captain Atom replace a blowed-up Breach over Metropolis. Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven #5 had a comatose, damaged Captain Atom appear in Bludhaven. And your own Captain Atom: Armageddon #9 had a determined and hardened Captain Atom show up in the ruins of Bludhaven (which could be the same event as in CA: BfB, but not in S/B or IC).

Now normally, I'd just chalk it up to editorial error, and I usually hate turning an obvious mistake into a plot point, but the idea that Captain Atom really did return four (maybe three) different times, and there are now four (or three) different Captains Atom running around, one without hair, one with a Monarch suit, appeals to me, because it's arguably in character for Captain Atom, the walking atom bomb blast.

Because it means he fissioned.

Being shot out of the Wildstorm U split Captain Atom, and now there's lots of shiny, radioactive man-gods out there, ready to fight for justice and blow each other up. Maybe Breach, the Captain Atom of Earth-8, and a certain bald, blue, naked guy could join the fray, too. Just imagine: Crisis of Infinite Atoms. Captain Atom Red / Captain Atom Blue. Captain Atom: Clone Saga. Captain Atom: Attack of the Clones.

(huh, suddenly the idea sounds lots less appealling.)

Anyway, Will, just throwing that idea out there. Take it, leave it. That one's free.

Oh, and third, how does Captain Atom spit? Do energy beings in containment suits even have saliva glands? And is his spit radioactive as well?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Where To Now?

So, yeah, I'm in a good mood. In fact, I'd say 52% of the country is in a good mood (and if you believe all of the voter suppression stories, the number's a lot higher than that.)

But having won the election, pushing the venal and corrupt out of positions of power, we have to look to the future. It's not enough to mock and ridicule the policies and tactics of the government of the past.

We have to figure out how to mock the policies and tactics of the government of the future.

I'm thinking, specifically, of The Daily Show. Yeah, it's been on the air since 1996, when Clinton was still president, but we all know it didn't really take-off until 2002-3, when, between domination of Congress, the Iraq War, and the upcoming 2004 election, the Republican's provided Jon Stewart with a steady stream of inane or hateful rhetoric, shameless pork barrelling and barely hidden corruption, desperate, insane pandering to a looney conservative base, and ass backward hunting accidents.

With a Congress that won't rush through Bush's latest crazy bill written by his corporate or evangelical masters, WILL investigate Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo (and the secret prisons. And the wire-tapping... And...), won't make a national case out of personal, family tragedy, WILL react to a national emergency BEFORE it makes landfall, and maybe, maybe, maybe, actually looks at the facts and evidence before deciding policy, rather than seeing what the policy is before deciding what the facts are...

won't Jon Stewart's job be a lot harder?

Sure, The Daily Show will still have their biggest target, W, to kick around for the next two years, and their second biggest target, the cable news networks, will still be around after that, but man, the Republicans sure did provide a lot of grist for the mill for six years there. I'm sure the Democrats will still provide some much needed crazy (and I'd rather have good government and bad comedy than vice versa), but it just won't be the same.

And as hard as it will be for Jon Stewart, how much harder will it be for (noted genre geek) Stephen Colbert? Stewart acts as himself, a topical comedian, his targets are always those in power, regardless of ideology. Colbert, however, has a more specific target in mind, the conservatives and their media machine. His character, "Stephen Colbert," is a mouthpiece for the Republican administration, a repeater and "unintentional" inverter of RNC talking points. If Hastert and Frist are not setting the agenda on the Hill, controlling both the timing of debates and the terms and conditions, where will "Colbert" get his marching orders from (and Colbert his punchlines)?

It would be funny, and actually in character for "Colbert," whose massive self-centeredness masks crushingly low-self esteem and a need to ride the coattails of those more popular, if he suddenly turned into a talking head for the left. He couldn't do it right away, with Bush still in the White House providing better crazy, he might not do it for a few years, but it'd be great if on November 5, 2008, when [insert your Democratic candidate of choice here] declares victory, "Colbert" cheers loudly that it's a victory for him personally, since he's been a long time supporter of liberal causes.

So how do you make fun of the Democrats? Wait, let me amend that. How do you intelligently make fun of the Democrats? I've heard most of the jokes, "cowards," "bumbling," "corrupt," "immoral." But lets face it, there was one party composed of draft dodgers, one who let Iraq fall into a civil war, North Korea to get a nuclear bomb, and watch an American city wash away, one party that was funded by a massive bribery campaign, one party that protected a pedophile because they were worried about losing his seat in congress,

and it wasn't the Democrats.

So what CAN we make fun of the Democrats for? Or should we let history decide?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Not to Sound Ungracious, or Anything...

On Tuesday, I posted about how happy I was that two of my favorite characters, who have never met despite having linked origin stories, were going to fight for the first time, written by one of my favorite writers. And I got linked to by When Fangirls Attack.

Which is great (sweet, sweet hit count), but honestly surprised me. Usually, I know when a post is going to get linked to, sometimes I practically beg to get linked to, but this was just me squeeing over a possibly Apokoliptian rumble. In retrospect, I should have expected it, because, after all, Big Barda, Knockout, and Gail Simone are all women. In comics.

Which meets the technical definition of an on-topic post, of course, but not, as I understood it, the grander vision. It wasn't really a post about "women in comics." It was more a post about a writer and characters who happened to be women. (I didn't even make my Secret Six joke that if Simone was writing about superpowered redheads fighting, they almost certainly were going to be fighting in the nude.)

Is this good? That's an honest question. Is it good to emphasize the mere presense of women in comics? I mean, it bugs me when people call Simone "one of the best female writers." No, she's just one of the best writers, no qualifier. This isn't the same thing, I know, but...

Was it because it was all women? I post about the Justice League all the time, which includes a woman or two, but that doesn't usually get linked. If Mark Waid was going to write the proposed Barda v. Knockout brawl, or if it was going to be Orion vs. Knockout instead, would it still have gotten linked?

Or was it just that Ragnell liked the post and wanted more people to read it? (which would be TOTALLY COOL!)

Anyway, the point of this post was that I really like When Fangirls Attack, I like the writers behind When Fangirls Attack, and I LOVE getting linked to by When Fangirls Attack, but I was kind of curious about what gets linked and what doesn't, sometimes.

And to guarantee that this post gets linked to as well, here's the ickiest daddy/daughter relationships found outside of Cinyras and Myrrha, courtesy of John Rogers, who's totally a comics writer now, so it counts.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday Afternoon Recommendation

If the Question was one of the greatest beneficiaries of Hypertime, his Charlton cohort Captain Atom was one of its greater victims. While new versions layered interesting characteristics and interpretations onto Vic Sage, the same versions stripped whatever was interesting about Nathanial Adam away. DC already had a nuclear powered accident survivor by the time Captain Atom was introduced, as well as military men turned weapons of mass destruction, and soldiers from another era trapped in the present. And once it was clear how he wasn't like those people, he became defined by only one aspect, and, as Dave Campbell points out, it's not a very compelling one:

Captain Atom is a tool. Whenever writers need an asshole superhero, they get Captain Atom. He’s constantly trying to beat up other heroes on behalf of the federal government.
And that's basically it. His defining feature is that he's as powerful as Superman, but he obeys the authorities, and it's always the wrong choice to make. And since Captain Atom is also portrayed as honest and sincere, he comes across as insanely naive, if not a little mentally handicapped.

Which was why blasting him into the Wildstorm Universe in Will Pfeifer and Giuseppe Camuncoli Captain Atom: Armageddon (trade paperback on-sale this week) was so brilliant.

When the Justice League butts up against President Luthor, the reader knows the government is in the wrong and spends most of the time wondering what kind of stick is up Atom's ass that he can't see it too.

But when The Authority cuts a swath of destruction across the Washington Mall, leaving the charred corpses of thousands of terrorists and tourists in their wake, and the President is left wondering if there was anything he can actually do, well suddenly the idea of a gold skinned god who limits himself to the will of the electorate starts to sound pretty appealing.

Captain Atom: Armageddon is probably the best inter-company crossover I've ever read (which I know isn't saying much but...) because it actually contrasts the characters that meet, rather than the usual misunderstanding, fight and team-up model. The Wildstorm characters see the establishment asshole that Captain Atom is usually portrayed as. But from Captain Atom's point of view, he's trapped in a world ruled by amoral, hyper-violent superheroes who have terrified the populace into submission. There's no misunderstanding, they understand each other perfectly. That's why they fight.

The whole book could be read as a contrast between the morally rigid Marvel heroes of the 1960s (Steve Ditko was one of Captain Atom's co-creators) and the violent, morally ambiguous Image heroes of the 1990s, a pastiche Armageddon rings an almost literal death knell for. Having moved through the awkward adolescent rebellion phase of WildC.A.T.S. and the "I'm at college so I must be right about everything" false maturity of The Authority, a real adult, a crotchety old survivor of a forgotten era, has come to tell them that they are getting it wrong, and the world is in danger because of it.

And Captain Atom plays an interesting Ghost of Christmas Future. Like Mr. Majestic, he's a popular hero from a comics company bought by DC Comics. But while Mr. Majestic can still headline his own series (er, sort of), the Captain has been reduced to C or D-list status. His very presence screams "You may be a big shot in your own world now, but someday you're going to be a background cameo in Infinite Crisis on Infinite Earths. One day, I was like you. One day, you will be like me."

It suggests a model for future Captain Atom stories that could be interesting, the law abiding superhero in a world where the law isn't respected much, a walking conscience with the firepower to back it up. The Boys of the Wildstorm Universe proper, if you will.

'Course, he's not in the Wildstorm Universe anymore, and in the DCU our sympathy will always be with Superman and Wonder Woman over the man in the shiny skin, so either he should go back (if only to make some more time with the Engineer) or he should get some new "heroes" to play with.

Play up some of the aspects of his Watchmen analogue, Dr. Manhattan, his disconnect from humanity due to his powers, and how that hurts him, rather than coldly interests him as it does his blue-bald twin. Add in a supporting cast of government employees who work with him and aid him. Some he can talk to, rescue, be rescued by. Maybe one or two villainous, or at least venal, bureaucrats, so the whole thing doesn't read like government propaganda. An anarchic villain or two who maybe have an actually good cause but poor methods.

There's a really good character there. Pfeifer and Camuncoli found him. And the gauntlet is thrown for the next writer to make him great.

Or you could just keep writing the unlikable establishment tool with the stick up his ass. If that's your thing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Santa Gail

From the Newsarama Gail Simone interview:

"Should be worth it for Barda vs. Knockout alone."

Barda vs. Knockout. Wow. It... it's like being given a birthday present and you didn't even know it was your birthday. I hadn't realized before but it turns out I have been waiting for that very moment since reading Superboy #25, Knockout's origin issue.

Um, wow. Gail's just been handing out the presents all over the place.

Thanks, Gail!

Be a Superhero


Monday, November 06, 2006


Nostalgia doesn't take long to set in. It seems that only ten years after anything, people forget about how terrible something is and start clamoring for more. Hence: Onlslaught Reborn.

Big fear for 2007?


is a sequel to THIS:

Friday, November 03, 2006

Hey Asians!

More offensive?

OR ?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Zero Irony

The Obligatory Heroes Post

I didn't want to like Heroes going into this season. It looked like yet another Smallville, a superhero show by people embarrassed to be doing a superhero show, so there wasn't going to be any costumes and it would trade more on Joseph Campbell's hero's journey and less on Jack Kirby's clobbering time. It certainly didn't didn't help that the pilot is pretentiously titled "Genesis" and the show seems to be based around a variation of the mutant gene. (as in, Mutant Gene, Why I Hate).

But it was the show on before Studio 60, which I was looking forward to (disappointingly), and I'm still as sucker for superheroes, so I tuned in to the pilot, where my low expectations were met. Except... it had that last minute twist that I honestly didn't see coming, and it had Hiro Nakamura, which made me just interested enough to catch the next episode, which made me just interested enough to catch the third, which kicked off with a moment that sealed the deal for me, but more on that later.

Heroes is a really good show. Like all great shows, Heroes greatest strength it its cast. They are across the board strong, which is impressive in a cast so large, with the noteworthy standouts of Hayden Panettiere (whom I've loved since she voiced Kairi in Kingdom Hearts) and Masi Oka.

Its second greatest strength is that the sucker moves. In a season where half a dozen shows warn their audience that there would be no resolution until May Sweeps, Heroes promises to set off a nuclear bomb in Mid-Town Manhattan in time for Veterans' Day.

And there's the cleverness with the powers. Lyle at Crocodile Caucus noticed that the badass powers, rage-powered superstrength and a hyper-healing factor bordering on immortality, belong to the women, while the men have more passive powers, telepathy, phasing, vague premonitions. The special effects are well done, especially for television and particularly the flights, which has plagued TV Supermen going back to George Reeves.

There are weaknesses. Some they've overcome: the pretentiousness of the pilot has been largely dropped or mollified. Some they haven't: both of the women have been sexually assaulted in only five episodes, and "Save the Cheerleader"? I mean, she's indestructible. Why not "Save the Emo Nurse with the MySpace Haircut?"

But I can ignore most of that because of Hiro Nakamura, the sensational character find of 2006 (sorry, Batwoman). He's easily the standout character of the show. He brings an energy to the show that drives the whole thing forward. The pilot is slow and ponderous, but the moment Hiro shouts "I DID IT!" in the middle of Times Square, with the camera orbiting him in a mad frenzy, the episode and the series comes roaring into life. (Followed up by "HERRO NEW YORK!" which is probably highly offensive, but I laughed anyway.)

A lot of critics think Hiro's appeal is that he's the fanboy made good, who knows his X-Men back issues and is excited (but not terribly surprised) to learn a future version of him exists and carries a sword. But that's not exactly it. We've seen that character before and usually, we hate him. See: Wesley Crusher (sorry, Wil Wheaton). Others say it's that he embraces his power, while the others are scared or ashamed. But Peter Petrelli embraces his power too, but I don't like him much*.

No, what makes Hiro a standout character is that he embraces being a superhero. Peter wants "to be somebody." Hiro wants to save lives. The moment for me, the moment I realized I was in, was the start of the third episode. Hiro's come back from his time traveling adventure, where he's discovered both the nuclear threat and a comic that can predict his future. But he has to cut short because "a little girls life depends on us". And he says this with ZERO IRONY.

Which is refreshing. There's just no way Buffy could have pulled off that line, or any superhero post-Adam West. It's just too spot on, too "this is what we do." But Hiro doesn't find saving lives absurd. Or even that heroic. He doesn't want praise for it, or recognition. He knows he has a power and with that power the responsibility to help people. He's already disappointed with himself for not being able to save everyone he could, and a close relative didn't need to get shot or nothing.

If the producers of Heroes were really brave, the pilot would have been just Hiro, and it would have followed his story for an hour from discovery of his powers through witnessing the bomb going off. Sure, it would have been mostly in Japanese and left a lot of the other characters in the wings, but it would have gotten most of the themes and even major plot points onto the table while hinting, with a newspaper headline here, an internet video clip there, a brainless dead body on the floor, at the other storylines. But mostly, it would have given Masi Oka more room to play. He really is delightful every time he uses his powers or asks himself "W W S-M D?" I'd be perfectly happy if the show was just about him.

And Hayden Panettiere. She's super cute.

*okay, I didn't like him much, until they revealed Peter doesn't really have a super power, he has other people's super power. It was a perfect power for Peter's personality, and made me particularly curious what happens when he finally meets Niki (and Niki's evil other half).