Novelist, comic book writer, and also comic book reviewer for www.BrokenFrontier.com, also website marketing coach for the Online Marketing Solutions company Push Traffic dot com. Incidentally, I am also the worst writer in the world.
Tim is your average joe, a little nerdy, a little geeky, small-bodied and intelligent if not a genius. He’s a steady hand at accounting and at present finds himself reporting for his first day at a new job: the offices of SHR, the HR department for super humans everywhere! Poisoned fatally by a ninja in the waiting room, grunted at by a zombie receptionist, buddied to a maniacal ex-villain in the records department, and all of it loomed over by a sentient, flesh-hating copier machine, life take no time in giving Tim a trial-by-fire inauguration, followed by an unforgettable employment beyond.
That’s an inspired premise, but haven’t we already seen reality mashed atop the world of genre fare time and again? Didn’t Kirkman give us Capesand Tales From the Realm? Marvel’s Damage Control for a similar-setting juxtaposition of mundane and hyper-real, of work-a-day folk tossed into impossible Superman situations only to see what sparks? Even ignoring those, haven’t we been inundated with comedy super-mags? Yes, spandex and supers and creatures of the night are hysterical, especially the four-color kind, but the trouble with any new humor book that harps on such subject matter, is that it is emphatically not alone.
In this day and age, readers dare any “humor” book to indeed be humorous, to make them laugh, to elicit so much as a lopsided grin via its so-called comedy. The audacity of the writer, the sheer chutzpah of the artist, to think they can simply put what they think works on paper and that any reader will forcibly laugh, maybe cry (should they laugh hard enough), and pay the exorbitant price of single-issue print comics just to find out if they do. Well, hell, that’s what reviews like this one are for, right? To know in advance whether anyone who’s read the book thinks it’s worth the price? So…is Super Human Resources worth the price? Is it funny? Or rather, is it funny even in the face of all the funny that’s come before? Survey says…
Let’s wait one more paragraph for that big revelation and allow me a moment to confess: I was excited to hear from writer Ken Marcus to read the first three issues of SHR for review, but when I at last sat down to read them I was…resistant. I simply didn’t want to like it and I couldn’t really tell you why. Maybe because I thought “oh, right, another look-how-funnny-genre-stuff-is-especially-when-standing-next-to-real-life story. Hmph.” Maybe the book just looked too colorful and modern webcomic-y in art style. Not that either of those things are bad per se, but for whatever reason I dove in and immediately felt my face scrunch and posture tilt rearward, away from the “offending” material. This was going to be a tough battle between SHR and me. A long and tension-filled cold war.
Or so I thought; the book thawed me, somehow, mostly because it did something far more difficult to achieve than comedy - it charmed. Protagonist Tim was an everyman but the innocent goodwilled best of the everyman, not the ignorant acquiescent worst of the same. The supporting cast of zombie, bog monster, giant lady, Superman, ninja, robot, evil genius (the list goes on…) is thankfully more than a series of jokes. The jokes are there, and they are funny, but when being funny isn’t enough in an industry chock-a-block with genre-humor yarns, what a new series needs is character. And that, sweetly, SHR has in spades.
Writer Ken Marcus, a newcomer to the world of comic book scriptin’, skillfully pens the characterizations through a series of vignettes that feel connected in more than just setting (even though they really aren’t). The dialogue is well played and, if not nuanced, it’s definitely fitting. The comedy unfurls without a crinkle on its carpet, and the characters are enduringly likable. Justin Bleep, on the art side of things, wields his trademark umbellar figures with distorted features to pitch-perfect effect, resulting in a book that seems literally shaped like candy for the eye - rolls and twists and gumdrops and gummies, cobbled together and colored by the great Joey Mason (of The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Animated Series fame).
Much like Digerolamo’s The Travelers, and Donna Barr’s Desert Peach, or Phil Foglio’s Girl Genius, there’s an alluring innocence to Super Human Resources, a recognizable sincerity to the characterizations and motivations. Perhaps because the setting is one of office drudgery, where the creators may have sufficient real-life inspiration to draw upon, even when the anti-heroes or villains act their worst there’s an intelligence and sympathy to the proceedings that lend the book a magnetism most fail to achieve. This is the element that wins over, that kept me hopping right ton over to issue #2 and then #3 without pause. Oh, and the comic is really damn funny.
Find out all you’ll ever need to find out about Super Human Resources at the comic’s WEBSITE.