Required Reading is DoomRocket’s love chest, where each week one of our contributors goes crazy over a book they just can’t seem to get enough of. Intrigued to find something new? Seeking validation for your secret passions? Required Reading gets you.
By Arpad Okay. The foibles of Tim from Super Crises International HR are due more to the hopeless nature of red tape than that his workplace resembles a Saturday morning cartoon version of Top 10. He might be the only normal guy in a room full of costumed crime fighters, but in Super Human Resources, everybody’s got to earn a living. SCI tries to put each individual’s strength to use in the name of fiscal responsibility. That’s where the trouble comes from.
Despite the paperwork involved, Super Human Resources is a cheeky read. This overly bouncy, zany air is in part due to the new artist for Season Two, Armando Zanker. The first Season had spare, airy art reminiscent of independent ventures like Hey, Mister or Home Movies. Zanker brings a heavier drop of ink to the page. There’s something Kirby-esque going on here, or perhaps it’s more like the brush strokes of les bandes dessinées. His Hanna-Barbera style suits the wide variety of characters Ken Marcus has written. Aliens, Gods and manimals mix with the caped crusaders who gather by the SCI water cooler. The fantastic and the banal overlap in such a nonchalant fashion, it reads more like the old days when Captain Marvel still said “Shazam!” than the contemporary exploits of any particular League or Agency. When Superman first appeared in the newspaper strips geared towards all readers, kids and parents alike, he saved the world but remember — he also worked in an office.
It’s not that the lives of Tim in HR or Helen in management (or even mailroom Bill) lack for cosmic adventure. Lois Lane’s certainly didn’t. But the joke here isn’t Jimmy Olsen being replaced with a space robot. It’s that, whether you are pushing a cart or knocking over buildings, you have the same problems at the end of the day. Rent. Utilities. Society. That practical/fantastical attitude that birthed characters like J. Jonah Jameson has grown large enough in Super Human Resources to consume the working class audience it aims to entertain, allowing them to stand beside this pantheon of heroes.
Nobody is better at accurately lancing the absurdity of the powerful than the working folks who throw out their trash and file their taxes. In that Sancho Panzan spirit, Super Human Resources makes the bureaucracy jokes as biting (and as crude) as you could possibly hope for. The whole story is built upon a foundation of snappy dialogue. Super Human Resources is wordy. It’s funny. Marcus understands that neither powers nor a steady paycheck can beat a quick wit. A deadpan parody reminiscent of Mad when it was a comic rather than a magazine. I can think of no greater compliment to the character design than the instant compulsion I felt upon seeing The Devastator: here’s the need-to-own action figure. Preferably one where you pull a string and it says “I think — uh — something’s wrong with your bathroom.”
It’s nostalgic and it’s new. How fresh is Super Human Resources? Zombie-admin-assistant-in-a-speedo fresh. (Zombor DGAF.) The-Devastator-in-squash-gear fresh. It requires an advanced skill set to make up costumed characters and then pull off dressing them up as something else. When your characters are solid enough that you can superficially mess with them without losing their core recognizability, their internal change comes off as having meaning. The workplace send-up dressed in superhero costume emerges from its cocoon at season’s end as epic as the adventure stories it once made fun of. Super Human Resources is required reading.
Action Lab Entertainment
Written by Sam Marcus.
Art by Armando Zanker.
Come back tomorrow for a 6-page Preview of ‘Super Human Resources’ #1!