Comic-Con '09: The Heroes Circus

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Each show's fans are different, and Heroes' followers have an undying loyalty to the superhero drama that borders on obsession. They skew young, they adore the cast like rockstars, and they are loud.

We always hear about how Heroes' passionate fan base offsets its dwindling ratings in the eyes of advertisers, but it's another thing to see, or rather hear, it in person. Take for example, any time Zachary Quinto (who plays the superpower-sponge Sylar) was shown on the big screen -- dogs in Tijuana probably covered their ears from the shrieks.

Heroes always has a large presence at Comic-Con, and this year was no exception. Virtually every cast member attended the panel this year, including the four newest -- Robert Knepper, Ray Park, Dawn Olivieri, and Madeline Zima.

Tim Kring kicked things off with a more detailed description of Volume Five: Redemption, explaining the circus-like atmosphere. Another group of superpowered people have also found each other, and have hid under the guise of a carnival. But now they're ready to come out, under the leadership of Knepper's charismatic Samuel, and recruit the heroes we're familiar with for "redemption."

"[Samuel] made a decision that [his life is not going to be the way it used to be," said Knepper. "We're going to change our lives, and one by one lure the heroes in to help develop that plan." Samuel's power? Olivieri describes it as an "Earth Mover."

Also new to the cast is Park, best known as Darth Maul from the newer Star Wars films. The self-professed geek is adept at martial arts, and that will come in hand y as Edgar, a knife-throwing carnie with the power of speed.

Zima, familiar from her face-punching days on Californication, teases her relationship with Claire as best buddies on a college campus. They have certain "privileges," she says, alluding to the talked-about sapphic experimentation with Claire (earlier reports said Claire would be locking lips with another actress when it was in fact Zima -- and the trailer proves it).

As for our familiar heroes, this is how they described how their season would begin: HRG will be starting a company while his family falls apart. Hiro is dealing with a terminal illness and has a "bucket list" of past errors that he's trying to correct through "lots of time travelling." Nathan and Sylar will share a body in a Jekyll-and-Hyde type of arrangement, and Sylar will be playing tricks inside Matt Parkman's head. Peter has a little more fun this season ("I even smile," says Milo Ventimiglia) as a paramedic, but "he's still the guy that if someone comes at him swinging, he's coming back harder."

But how will Heroes address its most common criticism of poor storytelling? "We will be telling deeper stories instead of wider stories," says Kring, focusing on less characters per episode and getting back to the hearts of the characters. Hmmm... sounds familiar.

As is the case with any Heroes gathering, the subject of who has the best power comes up, and once again Peter and Sylar's ability to learn the powers of others is the obvious choice.

"That's not fair, they get them all," said Hayden Panettiere.

"Some of us don't get any, I don't want to hear about that," replied Jack Coleman, imparting fatherly wisdom to his on-screen daughter. "All I have is the power of impaired vision!"

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