After 25 years The Greatest American Hero returns with all new original stories and adventures. Stephen J. Cannell’s beloved cult classic makes it debut to the comic book world courtesy of The Greatest American Hero star himself William Katt along with acclaimed writers Christopher Folino (Sparks), Sean O’Reilly (Kade), and Derek McCaw (Tony Loco). A pair of strangers, liberal high-school teacher Ralph Hinkley and right-wing FBI agent Bill Maxwell, have a close encounter in the Southern California desert one night with “little green men”, who give our heroes a red superhero suit. The suit works only for Ralph, and the two, accompanied by Ralph’s cute lawyer girlfriend Pam, reluctantly team up to battle criminals. Problems ensue when Ralph loses the suit’s instruction book, so he had to master the suit’s powers on his own.
When you look at what has come before, as far as doing a reboot on an older than twenty year old property, there has not been any really good track records. It would seem maybe the writers over at Arcana might have to say about this. While I was a huge fan of the original show and very excited about the new comic, (come on, every boy in elementary school at the time wanted to grow up to be a teacher, just so they could be found worthy enough to get an alien superhero suit and save the world) I just wasn’t sure how this would work. Bringing Ralph and Bill into 2008… would it translate well to a modern audience? Would the “buddy” chemistry still work? Would Bill just be a loud mouth jerk? Would Pam still just be eye candy? All of these question rolled around in my head as I turned the cover.
As it relates to the first two questions, the answer is a resounding YES! The writers took the basic framework and just brought it to today. Bill is still a hardcore FBI agent who is 100% sure the liberals are ripping the world apart, which will have a different feel to it given that this is a different political climate than it was in 1981. But the readers get the idea that he is a concrete good guy and not just an insult throwing dork. Ralph’s update still has him as the student-wise, special education teacher who trying to save everyone of his students. Pam.. haven’t seen her yet. But for the enjoyment of the reader, the polar chemistry between the two main characters is still quick-witted and working (think of the fun of having Hawkman and Green Arrow trapped in a car together:) )
This first issue sets up the backgrounds for Bill and Ralph, gets them connected and ends with the presentation of the red suit. It also introduces the big bad guy in the series, which is a new factor. A mad-scientist type (looking a whole lot like Billy Bob Thorton) who leads a white supremacist, religious, militant cult who has murdered Bill’s partner. Right alongside the readers,I think Ralph is in for some fun here.
Overall, the writing for the book is perfectly on target. From the plot itself to character development to dialog, this team of writers show they can easily carry this book and this property. The art, while a tad off in a few frames, overall is pretty solid. This first issue has sold me at least on the next few!
As a bonus, for GAH fans, issue #1 also has an intro by Stephen J. Cannell (TV writing legend and the creator of the show) and a write-up from Willam Katt (original actor on the show and writer / producer of the comic).
For fanboys, old and new, this is not one to miss.
Issue grade: A-