Ben Abernathy and Ile Wolf give the Madefire main characters a youthful makeover and send them to the mall to take on zombies, in the first issue of The Heroes Club is available now from the Madefire app.
The Heroes Club takes the main Madefire characters – Captain Stone, Mono and Charlie Chance (with The Irons’ Ivan also slated to appear) – and turns them into tweenagers who are enjoying your typical tweenage day at the mall, when the other shoppers turn into white skinned zombie maniacs after trying a sample of an energy drink called Shotz. In short, it’s Madefire‘s answer to the Muppet Babies with a generous dose of Mallrats.
The idea of making junior versions of your character is nothing new, Marvel and DC have been doing it for years, and so you can see why they’ve done it as it gives the reader a different way of looking at their favourite characters and gives them a youthful spark that they might not be able to have otherwise. It also allows for plenty of in-jokes and subversive nods at superhero cliche.
However for every title like that which works, there are dozens that don’t. Part of the reason Marvel and DC can make it succeed is that their characters are much more established than Madefire‘s and so subverting them has some value for the readers. In the Madefire universe, we’re just over a year in for these characters and with their infrequent scheduling means we have yet to really get to the core of what makes them tick. So to subvert them and make them into juniors takes away some of the mythos that their creators are trying to achieve. Conspicuous by their absence in The Heroes Club are the Treatment characters from Dave Gibbons’ series and perhaps that is with good reason.
Don’t get us wrong, this book is far from terrible, and if these were any other characters would actually be pretty darn good. The artwork is light and frothy with Ile Wolf doing a great job of capturing the energy that this kind of book deserves with his expressive Manga-esque style. There is also a suitably dark tone once everyone starts turning into a zombie which means this books isn’t complete froth. Abernathy writes a smart and punchy script with plenty of zinging one-liners, however the whole feel of the book just doesn’t seem right for these characters at this time.
The childish nature of the book also restricts what can be done with the characters and so the motion elements of the book feel relatively basic and not up to the usual high standard that we expect from Madefire. If this is Madefire‘s attempt to broaden their appeal with a wider variety of titles, for a wider variety of ages, then this may end up being a noteworthy first step, but for now it just feels like a miss-step.
Madefire‘s answer to the Muppet Babies lacks the cutting edge sophistication that we are used to from the motion book publishers, diluting the characters with these junior versions rather than poking gentle fun at them. A rare misfire from the guys at Madefire.