In the article linked, the writer is concerned that the absence of Loeb will sever the "comic book connection", and that the show will spiral (further!) into Petrelli Family Melodrama rather than Superheroic Intrigue and Buttkicking.
I watched the first season of Heroes; I enjoyed it. I thought it was a fun miniseries. One problem, though; it wasn't a miniseries. I was stunned when I heard "Heroes Season Two"; hmm, I thought they were going to quit while they were ahead.
But that's not the Hollywood way (SAW VI!), and so we have had Season 2 and 3. And while it's more or less retained its "comic book touch", I'm afraid it's doing so through many of the worst cliches that characterize comics (and soap operas). Here's just a few:
- Not just "separated at birth", not even "identical twins separated at birth", but "superpowered identical triplets separated at birth". I mean, really. It's particularly cruel to give the role to an actress who didn't have the chops to handle her role as a dual personality. "I'm not Nikki!" Um, yeah, sweetie; ya are, because your accent and speech patterns are identical.
- Arbitrary (self-imposed!) power restrictions on the overly powerful (Hiro will go back in time just to screw around in his office, but not to save the world?).
- "Luke, I am your father / future husband / brother" (honestly, I've not the strength to list all the suddenly uncovered and unlikely relationships, past and future, that the show spits out with the regularity of sourballs from a penny candy machine).
- Really obvious thievery from other media. Even Judd Winick couldn't have made "Dr. Suresh as Brundle-Fly" more obvious.
- Color coding. Ooh, Claire's a bad guy now so her hair got dark!
- Contradictory powers (Hiro's power was hard enough to believe without having a superspeedster to point out that it was nonsensical).
- "Legacy" heroes as obvious devices. "We need a painting seer. Uh-oh, we killed that guy. Let's pull another one out of our butts. But we need another trick to make him passive; can't make him a drug addict; let's just make him African instead."
The recent "morality polarity reversals" are painfully strained. Let's make Peter a villain and Sylar a hero! It's easier to believe a Senator can fly... . It's become asuperpowered Degrassi, with characterization changing randomly from episode to episode based on the needs of the plot. "We need Spinner to be a jerk this week, and refuse to share his healing powers with Jimmy."
Then there's the typical Loebian "villain of the month" syndrome. Season 1, Sylar is the be all end all villain. Season 2, he's powerless and there's a new mysterious Big Bad, whose power is the ever-threatening 'not-dying' power, wielded so effectively by Willard Scott and Charles Lane. Ever notice how directors invariably choose some who ages really badly really quickly to play an immortal? Season 3, Sylar's a hero (for no compelling reason other than "Are You My Mommy?" syndrome), and the Immortal Big Bad gets offed casually just to show how much Bigger and Badder the new villain is. In three seasons, Loeb & Co. have managed to push the franchise to same levels of narrative desperation that most comic books tooks 50 to 60 years to reach.
I'm not sure that Loeb's leaving will redeem Heroes; I'm thinking it's too late for that. But perhaps the comic book cliches will be less obvious now.