Review: James Stokoe’s Art Is The Real Star Of ‘Heroes Reborn’ #4

by Olly MacNamee


Doctor Spectrum battles across the galaxy in the name of America in another issue that seems more like a one-shot than a sequential and dynamic cohesive story of any real substance. But with James Stokoe on art duties, it’s more than enough to save another thin-on-plot comic book.


I’ve resigned myself to accepting that this core mini-series is nothing more than a series of one-shots focussing on the individual members go the Squadron Supreme on an Earth where the Avengers never formed, so I went into this week’s issue with low expectations.

Well, I say that, but as the preview for this issue featured the stunning, super-textured artwork of James Stokoe I knew that visually, at least, I was in for a real treat. And maybe that’s the point. Jason Aaron’s script seems to play to Stoke’s strength as one of comic’s more imaginative artists. An artist who seems to draw influence more from the underground comics of yesteryear than anything in mainstream comics. Each page delivers a different, manic explosion of funky and hyper-detailed artwork that cries out to be lingered over. Stokoe must drive himself insane with his attention to the finest of details applied to each and every panel of this comic.

Doctor Spectrum is cast as a rather right-leaning American zealot who is determined to tame the galaxy and beyond in the name of the good old U.S of A. And like a one-man military force invading foreign countries recklessly, he’s taking no prisoners. 

We get gorgeously gnarly gonzo pages of over-the-top conflict between the Doc battling Rocket Raccoon and this universe’s version of Groot, before a final page reveal (again) that shows a lot behind the origins of this alternative reality and suggests a heart of darkness at the centre of it all. It would certainly go a long way to explain why this brave new world is far more violent than the 616.  

Once again, Ed McGuinness adds the back-up strip which also offers its own revelation. Although it comes nowhere near as jaw-dropping as the main story’s big reveal. And you though a Hydra Captain America was bad! Just wait toll you get a load of the big bad pulling the strings.

It’s still never going to be a mini-series in my eyes that will stand the test of time, but then the plot Aaron wants to play out still feels desperately thin, even before you consider the huge amount of tie-ins attached to this seven-issue series. Still, this was definitely the best of a bad bunch, but again it all comes down to the art. Personally, I prefer my comic books with good art and a good story. But I suppose you can’t have it all. Still, we’re over half-way done, so there is that. But even as a weekly series, this can’t end quick enough for this fanboy.

Heroes Reborn #4 is out now from Marvel. A must for fans of great comic book art, but don’t expect too much more than that.

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