In 2006, fanboy culture and America in general went "Heroes" crazy when the comics adjacent ensemble drama set ratings highs for NBC. Now, Dynamite Entertainment hopes to catch lightning in a bottle again as they announce plans for a continuation comic ahead of Comic-Con International in San Diego offering a story which will both hew close to the original show while shaking things up from page one.
Created by writer Tim Kring, "Heroes" told the story of a wide range of ordinary people suddenly gifted with extraordinary powers not unlike those seen in comic books, and for four years, the likes of indestructible cheerleader Claire and teleporting office worker Hiro lived a number of sci-fi-tinged conspiracy storylines all asking the question of what had happened to them. The series started as a pop culture phenomenon before writer's strike complications and some unexpected turns in the story resulted in lost momentum and the show ended up being cancelled after its fourth season.
For Dynamite's continuation, the publisher tapped comics writer Cullen Bunn, who experienced the entire series from the position of being an ordinary viewer. In speaking with CBR, the writer expressed enthusiasm at the idea that he's been given the extraordinary task of making "Heroes" fly again. "I was a faithful viewer of 'Heroes' when it was on television," Bunn said. "The things that most appealed to me about this are that I like the world. I like the concept of ordinary people who discovery they have these powers and are working in a world where superheroes are not common knowledge. It's all about normal people discovering this and the situations they get into. There are some aspects of that which are still out there to be discovered.
"More than that, I really want to delve into these characters more," the writer continued. "That was really the heart of the show. Sure, there were people with powers, but what really appealed to me was how they grew as characters. There's a core group of characters that are mainly from the first season who I really like and we'll be seeing in the book.
"Right off the bat, Claire is going to be our point of view character. The first issue is centered more on her than anyone else. That said, you're going to see most of those core characters early on in the first few issues. Hiro was the character I always liked most in the show for a number of reasons. So you'll be seeing him and Sylar and a bunch of others who will get thrown back into the story early on. Claire, Hiro and Sylar will be big right off the bat, but it won't be long before you see all the core characters."
Bunn explained that the ability to juggle so many different pieces of the world will give the book something of an anthology format, though not in the sense that there will be no over-arching story. Rather, each new installment will come from a different point of view. "This is an ensemble cast, but each issue will probably focus on one or two characters more than the others. It'll have a rotating feel. The first issue will be very much focused on Claire and her experience, but as we get into the second issue, you'll experience more through Hiro's eyes and what's been going on with him. It changes from issue-to-issue."
And just as the "Heroes" TV show had a number of long-running mysteries, the new comic version will have one major complication right out the gate which for now Bunn is keeping a secret. "The other thing that appealed to me about this project is that they're giving me the opportunity to do something really unusual with a licensed project like this. I'm able to explore some stories and explore some aspects of the story in ways I would have never expected this to come together."
As to the specifics of the story that could be revealed now, Bunn said however Dynamite ends up labeling the final series, he is viewing the gig as essentially "Heroes Season 5." "To me, this is picking up the story and taking it from where it left off, but there is a big curveball right from issue #1 of the comic. That will set a lot of what we've seen in the series on its ear. It'll change a lot, but this is essentially the continuation of the TV series. I'm taking it into some bizarre, unique and unusual territory. The benefit of comics is that you can do some things there that you can't do anywhere else."
One element that will carry over is the idea from "Heroes" whereby certain characters would be able to interact with the world they lived in through prophetic comic pages created by the powers unleashed in the world. Bunn said he and Dynamite were still working on the specific artists for this launch, but whoever drew the book would have to be ready to get metatextual. "It's a little too early to talk about who's drawing because they wanted to get some of my scripts in first and see who should draw it. But how these characters view this world in that sense is going to be a major part of the story," he said. "My main concern with the first few issues is establishing what has gone before and where the story is going from there. I need to take the time to introduce some of these elements. Some of this will feel strange. I'm doing things in this comic that I've never done and telling a different kind of story. So I want to take a few issues to get it right. But the 'meta' side of 'Heroes' was always such a big part of the show that if this was going to be a true continuation of the series, it had to feel like that in all ways. So that will be a part of that for sure."
And while the majority of the original "Heroes" writing staff are far out of comics, Bunn said he's hoping to bounce his new take off one voice from the show in particular: Marvel Studios' head of television Jeph Loeb. "I have that itch," the writer said. "I'd love to talk to Jeph Loeb anyway about a number of things and just pick his brain. As soon as we started talking about this property and what we could do with it, it definitely crossed my mind. I've never met Jeph or exchanged e-mails with him or anything like that, but I'd love to get some input from him."
"Heroes" debuts later this year from Dynamite Entertainment.