Super Corporate Heroes Vol. 1 Review – Miguel Guerra & Suzy Dias

super-corporate-heroesSuperheroes as a form of celebrity culture isn’t a new thing. Many examples come to mind: DC’s Booster Gold, Mark Waids Insufferable, each dealing with the other side of being a superhero – making money. But neither title really tackles the corporate culture head on – well not like Super Corporate Heroes. It asks a completely new question: what if superheroes were on a payroll, and would only save you if you paid up? Miguel Guerra and Suzy Dias provide this take on the superhero culture, and while it falls victim to some minor flaws, it becomes something fairly unique to the genre.

As mentioned before, Super Corporate Heroes follows a group of superheroes under the payroll of Superhero Inc. These are men and woman who don’t do it for the altruism – this is for fame and fortune. The series follows the day to day lives of these heroes – the sleazy, arrogant American Icon, the woman of steel Ms.Titanium, the somewhat anatomically correct human spider known as Spinlar – each of these heroes fulfill an archetype from many of the big two publishers’ rosters. While at times they are amusing parodies, like Spinlar ,who spins his web from his back side, other times they can be quite blatant, like the Wolverine-esque Meerkat, and the less than subtle references become more of a distraction than bringing anything to the table. Despite this, Guerra and Dias manage to create a well-rounded cast of characters that at times elevate things higher than simple parody.

Where this comic really shines is the situations these characters are placed in. While at times the moment-to-moment dialogue feels uneven, jumping from 1960s hammy to more modern characterisation, the events that take place are often a treat. From the victim of a mugging who is torn between being mugged (which is cheaper) or paying up to the local hero to save him, to the disgust a bank has toward being saved by Spinlar, the moments can be incredibly amusing to see play out.

At times the themes move on from simple satire, to deeper exploration of economics in our society. Questions of equal pay between male heroes and female heroes, lack of funding to more basic emergency services, and small businesses unable to pay insurance are all brought up. It’s a welcome depth to the idea of a corporate culture and superheroes, and while these really only get touched on briefly, it’d be great to see more of these topics dealt with as the miniseries moves on.

The art on the other hand is a mixed bag. While it certainly invokes strong ties to the square-jawed, simply designed heroes of the Silver Age, the detail in the facial features appears a bit off. Faces seem to be oddly placed, and occasionally characters are contorted in such a way that looks weird. Backgrounds are also lacking, keeping to a bare minimum of detail, and never really giving the comic a sense of place outside of generic city-scapes. The art overall isn’t bad, but it never becomes anything more than a fairly simply drawn book.

Super Corporate Heroes surprised me, and that doesn’t happen too much these days. Its relevant satire of the global economy elevates it higher than many other comics in its genre, to create something that both entertains and intrigues more than you’d think.


Circus: The Graphic Novel – Get Inside The Show!

There’s so many crowd-funded comic projects out there, but I still love shining the spotlight on local ones as I come across them. Toowoomba’s Will McLaren has a promising graphic novel project on offer over at Pozible. The story sounds appealing and the first six pages are complete of what is intended to be a100-page graphic novel:

The greatest circus on earth becomes the most desperate after its main big top, filled with technological and artistic marvels, burns to the ground. With performers dead, acts cancelled and a world war looming, violence, crime and risqué entertainment are embraced as necessities for the survival of the circus.

What I like about the different pledge levels is the variety in options for you to be featured in the book itself, whether you’re an artist or just someone who’d like to see a character that looks like them.

You can view Will’s pitch for your money right here:

It’s only a day until the pledges close and it’s looking like the project will meet target if a few more people throw their hats in the ring. We’ve happily pledged and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product in January 2014. Go check it out for yourself.

Review: Yi Soon Shin, Warrior and Defender

Yi Soon Shin ReviewIt’s easy to get jaded in comics, as like any medium there’s only so many variants on a theme, particularly in action-based comics. So when I received a review copy of Yi Soon Shin, Warrior and Defender, I was expecting more of the same. I’m pleased to say I was very much proven wrong, with this trade of the first four issues of the series a solid and engaging read.

The scope of the story is nothing short of an outright war between Korea and Japan in the late 16th Century, and it starts out with one of the great naval battles that occurred. It sets the scene nicely for the political and military intrigues that follow. You’ll want to spend some time reading through the beautifully illustrated and notated background information, to fully appreciate the scope of the events being illustrated.

Onrie Kompan’s writing shows the research he’s put into the topic and really does showcase what a rich part of history he’s drawing from. The dialogue is far from dry and although there are some infrequent parts where the dialogue is a little jarring given the setting, (“Because you fucks are gonna help me murder that son of a bitch” is one example), it doesn’t happen enough to undermine what is a well-written story.

Art-wise, Giovanni Timpano’s work is exemplary – from the more detailed discussions that occur through to the splash pages, it’s quality form start to finish – Adriana De Los Santos’ colours definitely help out in a big way here, with some great work across the board. I struggle to comment much on letterers a great deal of the time, but even Joel Saavedra’s work here helps the book along.

Overall, this is a very high quality, independently produced piece of work that deserves some attention. Stan Lee provides a foreword (I’d love to know the story of how Onrie Kompan pulled that off) and although Stan can tend toward hyperbole (there’s an understatement), the praise he provides for this book is well deserved.

Whether you’re a student of history, a jaded comics reader looking for something meaty or just someone who likes a good story, Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender is definitely worth a look. You can find out more at the book’s website. If you want a more in-depth review, it’s hard to go past Jeff Ritter’s one here as well.

Score: 9/10


Review: The Underwater Welder – Jeff Lemire

underwater-welderIt isn’t often that I find myself crying after being told a sad story. In fact, only three times this year have I actually full blown shed tears because of a story. First was in a very devastating episode of Supernatural, and the second time was after watching the documentary Dear Zachary. The third time was just last Sunday afternoon reading Jeff Lemire’s The Underwater Welder.

The Underwater Welder is a different take on a study of a family and of a man coming to terms with life, as it is a ghost story of sorts. It’s a story of a father and son, of a husband and wife, of a couple and their new child. It follows Jack Joseph, a man who works on an oil rig as a deep-sea welder in Nova Scotia. After finding a piece of his past while diving one day, his world begins to change. Through visions and dreams, Jack’s life takes a strange turn, as he finds himself part of a series of weird supernatural events that forces him to come to terms with his past. This culminates in various realisations that will ensure that many a tear will be shed in Jack’s quest to come to terms with his past, and ultimately his future.

Lemire manages to create a strong cast of characters in Jack’s life. Jack is a loving husband, but is all too often vague and distant with his wife, Susan. She is caring, but borders on overbearing and nagging at times, as Jack attempts to figure out what is going on in his life. Alongside Susan, Jack’s father Peter plays an important role. Often unreliable, Peter still wishes to maintain a good relationship with his son throughout the book. Despite each of these characters’ flaws, Lemire succeeds in making you truly care about the people in Jack’s life. Emotions and interactions between the cast is the heart of The Underwater Welder, and is where it shines the most.

Lemire also takes art duties in his graphic novel, as he utilises rough pencil along with grey tones to help accentuate the setting and tone of the story. His art-style can be divisive, as it is often surreal and very odd, but it has this strange sense of beauty behind it. It works wonderfully within the confines of the story, as there are at least a few pages that split a larger image into many panels that give a fantastic effect.

If you are looking for an original story this year, then pick up this odd book. Let the story of Jack and his quest draw you in, because The Underwater Welder is one of the best graphic novels this year, and should not be missed.