A Few Thoughts on NBC's Heroes (Mostly Spoiler Free)
In brief, Heroes (Mondays on NBC) is quite good, a very enjoyable show. I full endorse it. Certainly, not flawless, it kept my attention the whole time, managing to be a fairly nicely paced origin story and the "next issue" teaser promises even better things to come.
The show reminds me of a cross between JMS's Rising Stars and Squadron Supreme, DP7 (yes, from the New Universe, a title I liked) and Kurt Busiek's Astro City, along with dashes of X-Men and a good dose of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol. Although these and other elements were familiar (and will be to anybody who has followed comic books for any amount of time), it was much, much fun to see them executed so well in a live-action television serial show.
My only real quip with the show is the prologue that tells you right off that these people will save the world (from what is strongly suggested at the end of the episode), instead of leaving it more open-ended that they may indeed fail (or be the cause of the disaster). I think that the uncertainty of success does enter into the show as it progresses, but I disliked the text seemingly providing such certainty and spoiling the ending of the entire serial.
Aside from that, I found the story compelling and the characters engaging. There is a lot of cross-over and connection (most characters have at most two to three degrees of separation it seemed) between characters, but this seemed promising and purposeful rather than a convenient plot device. It's clearly supposed to hint at the larger picture that is hidden from us currently, making us wonder more about how these people are truly connected.
The various ways in which the characters react to their powers feels believable. Reactions range from unadulterated joy to complete fear to alienation and freakishness. For some, it causes separation from people in their lives; for others, it results in a stronger connection.
One mild theme that I find intriguing and that will hopefully be played out more is the idea of metamorphosis, but the Kafkian metamorphosis. The cockroach is held up as perfect being, as reflection of God, and is later stepped on by the "prophet" (who is intertwined deeply with the genetic research that seemingly is related to the sudden explosion of super-powers) who proclaimed its superiority. The suggestion that humans need to evolve to the ultimate stage of evolution, embodied in the cockroach, is to suggest that this transformation leads to unheralded power yet also a hideous aspect that inspires fear and a urge to destroy it. And, despite seeming invulnerable to almost everyting (even beheading and radiation), the cockroach is easily destroyed by man. It's a promising theme that I hope to see revisited.
The "next show/issue" teaser has me most excited, not just because it introduces more characters, but deepens the mystery and suggest a promising commentary on and exposition of the relationship this show has with comic books.
If you've read more than a dozen comics, you'll see very familiar characters and some familiar plot lines, but plenty of new offerings. The familiar elements are done so well, however, it's more like meeting a familiar and comfortable pen pal in person for the first time. Make sure to catch up on this show.