Resize text+=

Geeky Parent Guide: ‘Four-Color Heroes’ – Learning Love and Acceptance

The Geeky Parent Guide aims to highlight media that both kids AND their grown-ups will be able to enjoy. This year, the GPG is focusing not only on the joy of the content itself, but on digging deeper to determine why media is of interest to various members of the family, as well as the valuable (and challenging) aspects of its messaging. As families grow and evolve, so, too, do their interests, and we hope to provide fun and thoughtful ways for families to sit back, relax, and enjoy new books, movies, comics, TV, and more.

Let’s dive into the comic book story, Four-Color Heroes, a coming-of-age graphic novel following Patrick and Oscar who establish a relationship centered around reading a comic book, all while dealing with the reality of the anti-LGBTQ+ views and discrimination which threaten their very right to exist. Despite its origin landing before the Civil Union Act 2004 (allowing same-sex couples to enter a civil union), this New Zealand love story gives a stark reminder of how far we’ve yet to come in the present day, as people demonize those who simply wish to be themselves.

If you have not read Four-Color Heroes yet, please consider this your limited spoiler warning.

Four-Color Heroes
Release Date: 2023
Publisher: Fanbase Press
Creator, Writer, Artist: Richard Fairgray

GPG 4CH Cover Final

What Is Four-Color Heroes About?

Four-Color Heroes navigates teenage angst and sometimes rebellious behaviors, while also highlighting how families can be a source of pain rather than the nurturing safe space they should be. Finding bonds of friendship in a new school can also feel unnerving, but it does not help when Oscar’s mother tells him to “find good people.” The insinuation that only “good people” fall within certain boundaries seems to be the opposite of “treating others how you want to be treated” and “to never judge a book by its cover.”

Patrick and Oscar have two completely different worlds at home and navigating beyond those walls is not always simple. The main characters gravitate towards each other, trying to find comfort when their worlds around them are telling them they should be uncomfortable. Telakos, the superhero depicted in this story, gains his powers when two individuals merge into one being. Although Patrick and Oscar do not become one person, they are ultimately battling two fronts – who they are and what others think they are. It’s not until they come together that they’re free to be exactly who they’re meant to be, and that’s the ultimate power.

Four-Color Heroes is an amazing story that hits on many realities in today’s world. Creator Richard Fairgray points out how figuring out one’s identity is not always clear-cut, especially when there are those who march with anti-LGBTQ+ signs or shout awful things disparaging one’s very existence. Despite such hard circumstances, these two find a safe space as Patrick reads pages of a comic book to Oscar, helping them understand their place in life.

GPG 4CH Image1

Why It’s Outstanding for Parents

Parents want to protect their kids, but we cannot always keep them from getting hurt. A story like Four-Color Heroes gives parents a useful tool to share with their kids to help identify what they might see in the world, both good and bad. Not only does it highlight the hatred that exists in this world, it identifies the possibilities that come along with being true to who you are.

Kind actions, such as telling a friend about a comic book, can lead to a meaningful relationship and happiness. Hate-soaked signs and language at anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrations break down a person’s soul in a way that’s abhorrent, counterintuitive, and ultimately paints a picture where only some should deserve love. It is not an easy thing to recognize (or come to terms) when those closest to you might not truly love who you are or those you care for, but Four-Color Heroes depicts a stark reality where those things exist – because they do, unfortunately.

Not only does Fairgray share an incredible story within his wonderfully drawn pages, he doesn’t sugarcoat the world Patrick and Oscar live in. But there is still good in the world, and parents (sometimes) need that reminder of hope and good when there seems to be so much of the opposite, wondering about our children’s future and what they will have to deal with.

Four-Color Heroes gives all readers exceptional storytelling, as we learn that time does not always change the way people feel, but reinforces that it is okay to move on from those who do not. Kindness and acceptance should be a universal language, and Fairgray captures that beautifully as two characters bond over a love of comics.

Why It’s Amazing for Kids

Kids will recognize why stories matter after reading Four-Color Heroes. They will see two characters who enjoy each other’s company, while also learning about the uncomfortable truth of trying to figure out who we are through those vivid teenage years (and beyond). Life is not easy, and witnessing people treating other people poorly makes that notion easily identifiable.

Do we want our kids to see people treat others with such disregard? Do we want them to know how hate is so accessible and easily written on parade signs? No, of course not; however, kids learning about this and questioning why people would do such things might make it even easier for them to be accepting and kind to those they do not know.

Everyone looks, talks, acts, dresses, works, and plays differently. It does not make them bad; different doesn’t correlate to bad. Different does not mean unworthy of love. Four-Color Heroes shines a light on those who want to strip those things away from those who equally deserve a life filled with happiness, love, and understanding.

My own kids have difficulty seeing other people treated poorly, such as a teacher being name-called or yelled at, because they don’t understand why anyone wants to treat someone in such an awful manner. This awesome comic book takes that notion and tells a beautiful story where two boys must weave a path that makes them feel happy and accepted – even if that means leaving behind those who are supposed to care for them the most. Kids need to know there’s love out there for them, for everyone, and Fairgray gives them that tale to hold onto so dearly.

Parental Concerns or Limitations

Four-Color Heroes is listed for readers “16 and up,” so keep that in mind, as there is some vulgar language in this story that some parents might not want their younger kids to read. If a reader is dealing with or has experiences with alcohol abuse, Patrick’s father might present an uncomfortable reminder for those trying to cope with similar situations.

GPG 4CH Image2

Conversation Starters

Four-Color Heroes is an ode to breaking down barriers by establishing different characters who are attempting to navigate through life together in spite of being told they shouldn’t be who they are.

Love and Life Is for All; Not Just Those Who Dictate Otherwise

It is sometimes still hard to imagine people in this world wanting barriers in place for others. Whether it’s making it harder for people to vote so their voices aren’t heard, signing bills to take away a woman’s right to choose or have privacy, or by making it acceptable to discriminate against anyone identifying as LGBTQ+.

Fairgray, who not only focuses on Patrick and Oscar, highlights their divisive families and what it means to feel like you can’t openly be yourself. It’s important for stories like this to be told, so anyone can see how feeling loved and accepted leaves such a positive impact. This graphic novel bluntly presents the harsh realities we’ve all seen, but gives us sincerity when we need it most, understanding when we’ve felt lost, and a wonderful world of comics that anyone can and should get wrapped within.

Bonds That Can and Cannot Be Broken

There are people in this world who will hate Patrick and Oscar simply for being themselves. Even though they are characters in a comic book, the fact that this hatred spreads from the real world to pages in a book is a damning truth. Their life, their love, and their bond isn’t something to be fractured overnight. Their flame might have sparked in an instant, but the bond they now share will always be there. They found each other and were subsequently able to figure out who they were individually.

On the flip side, the bonds of parent and child should be unbreakable. There should be an unending purity where there is no space for hatred, but Patrick and Oscar learn to cope without them. They decide how they want to live, who they want to live with, and what it means to be okay with those decisions. In a world where people should be accepting and should be kind, these two (like so many others) must find a way to be themselves despite so many others treating them as if they don’t deserve it.

They deserve every bit of happiness and love and acceptance in and out of the pages of a comic book – and I will always be here for it!


Additional Recommendations Beyond Four-Color Heroes

Four-Color Heroes is one of the best stories I have ever read. Am I a staff member of Fanbase Press? Yes. Does it impact my view in the least? Not one bit! I proudly and unabashedly shout from the rooftops the incredible tale being told and how much connection one can feel with these characters. That is the magic of storytelling, the greatness of important characters, and why the comic book medium is truly special.

In saying that, I will recommend Wynd from writer James Tynion IV and artist Michael Dialynas. In the fantasy world surrounding Pipetown, the main character has kept his magical identity hidden in a place where magic is forbidden. Before long, Wynd must navigate beyond the walls of his home and traverse dangerous roads where he and his friends are being hunted. If you’re looking for a fantasy tale filled with interesting characters and wonderfully drawn landscapes, check out Wynd.

What do you think of Four-Color Heroes? What messages did you take away from this story? Share your thoughts in the comments below or share with us over on Facebook and Twitter. Plus, if you would like more comic book content like this on the GPG, make sure to like this and share it with all of your geeky friends.

Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking!

S.T. Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor



Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top