Let’s say you’re trying to decide if you want to see the upcoming Disney/Marvel animated film Big Hero 6. You want to get a bit of background on the characters so you go looking for the comics which the movie is based on. Let me give you a huge tip, DON’T read the five issue run from 2008.
Now, I haven’t seen the film. It isn’t out yet, and all I have to go off of is the trailer. I was initially excited for this film just because it was Disney doing super heroes. I wasn’t even aware of the Marvel connection until I did more research. I only stumbled upon the comic because I am a member of Marvel Unlimited, a service that allows users to read Marvel comics on their tablets or computers. Not all Marvel comics are available, but I decided to try out the Big Hero 6 that was available. Big mistake.
I can’t speak for the original appearance of Big Hero 6 in the comic Sunfire & Big Hero 6 from 1998. To quote the description of the team’s formation in the back of an issue, “When the Japanese government wanted a team of state-sanctioned super heroes at their disposal, a top-secret consortium of politicians and business entities known as the Giri was formed to recruit and train potential superhuman operatives for ‘Big Hero 6.’ Despite reservations by some members of the Giri, Silver Samurai, a freelance ronin and former bodyguard of the terrorist Viper, was appointed as field commander. Secret agent Honey Lemon, inventor of the nanotechnology-based Power Purse from which she could access any object, was also recruited for the team. The tough-talking Go-Go Tomago, able to transubstantiate her body into a fiery force blast by uttering her code name, was released from prison on the condition that she serve on the team.” And so on and so forth.
The five issue limited series starts with introducing two new members of the team. This is seemingly so they can keep the 6 in their name. One of these new members is named Fred and he can turn into a Godzilla-type lizard. Because they’re in Japan, get it!
The other new member on the team is a sushi chef who can expertly chop and throw things charged with explosive energy. His name is Wasabi No-Ginger. I wonder how they decided to name him. I can’t figure out where they got a name like Wasabi for a Japanese sushi chef. It’s like they went for the most unique and unexpected combo of name and profession.
Anyway, the writing doesn’t get much better after the names. I know I won’t be checking out Chris Claremont’s other contributions to comics. The team gets embroiled in a robbery and the villains are maybe people they’ve fought before. Then it turns out the villains can possess anyone, so eventually Big Hero 6 loses a member or two and has to fight against them. The bad guys turn out to be looking for aliens or alien technology. Issue #4 ends with the team finding the aliens and by the beginning of issue #5 it seems like the team and the writers forgot about the aliens.
The art is nothing remarkable. David Nakayama is to blame for the faux-manga style that features many many drawings of the girls(Honey Lemon in particular) in provocative poses.
During many of the fights it becomes impossible to follow who is doing what, and where, and to who. Given that I didn’t even fully understand the villains, what they want, or who they were, it was hard to care at all during the fighting.
Like I said before, I haven’t seen the film. I have noticed some changes already, including a name change of their location from Japan to San Fransokyo. This robs the film of the ability to mine Japan’s history or even portray the country in a positive way. Also it looks like the team is made up of the 2008 reboot members, just so they can avoid conflict with how Silver Samurai was portrayed in The Wolverine.
Sight unseen though, the animated film can only be better because it isn’t oversexualizing the characters, the writers have done other Disney films(so they at least know how to write), and T.J. Miller voices a character! He’s a funny guy and you should like him.
Oh, I can’t forget this one last gem from issue #5. The mysterious lady who has been coordinating the reformation of Big Hero 6 is revealed to be named Furi Wamu and has an eyepatch. Furi. Eyepatch. Fury. Eyepatch. FINKLE IS EINHORN!