I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t somewhat disappointed in the first issue of Super Human Resources, a new superhero-themed comedy from writer Ken Marcus and artist Justin Bleep.
It’s certainly not a bad comic, but it’s garnered such strongly positive, pre-publication reviews that I was really expecting to have my socks knocked off by the first issue, and, well, my socks are still on.
The premise itself is solid, if familiar. Tim, an employee from Temps-R-Us, shows up at the corporate headquarters of the Super Crises International super-team, a JLA/Avengers-like team, where he’ll be working a cubicle as part of the SCI’s large support staff.
The humor comes from the marriage of the mundane, everyday real world to the more fantastic world of superheroes, for laughs, something done to great effect previously in Top 10 and the early issues of Dan Slott’s She-Hulk, as well as some lesser comics.
If Top 10 was a cop drama meets comic book superheroes and She-Hulk was a David E. Kelly lawyer show meets comic book superheroes, Super Human Resources is the The Office meets comic book superheroes, in subject matter if not necessarily style.
The first script is simple, yet effective (and pretty much a perfect first issue, in terms of letting a reader know everything they’ll need to know to decide if they want to read the second, third and fourth). Tim arrives in the lobby, meets his contact and she gives him a tour of the building on the way to his station, introducing him, and through him the readers, to the cast as she does so.
The cast consists mostly of analogues to Marvel and DC superheroes: There’s Swamp Thing/Man-Thing, here’s Iron Man, there’s Superman, over there’s The Vision/Red Tornado type, and over there’s a Batman/Wolverine and oh, hey, look, it’s Starfire. Given the explosion of superhero comics that use the Marvel/DC analogues, I’m always surprised when I see another iteration of it, and more surprised still when I see it working okay.
Marcus and Bleep get some credit for making some unusual choices though—a swamp monster, a werewolf guy—and making some jokes with some of these that work quite well (I liked Zeus, for example, but I’m a sucker for the old time-y aye-and-thy dialogue used in everyday conversations).
Not every gag worked, but there are a lot of jokes, a couple per page, enough that the misses don’t really do any damage. Bleep’s artwork also certainly helps cushion and damage from any of the clunkers.
It has a flat, bright, abstract-ish quality that gives off a Saturday morning cartoon vibe (Do they even have cartoons on Saturday mornings anymore? Maybe I should say “Cartoon Network vibe”…), and Bleep’s sense of design is highly idiosyncratic. I can’t imagine mistaking his artwork for anyone else’s, nor vice versa; there’s a strange energy about it, and looking at it, I can’t help but tracing the sharp, angular lines that his characters are made out of over and over with my eyes.
If you like superheroes—and the fact that you’re reading my site at all indicates to me that you probably do—I’d suggest giving the issue a try. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but there’s a pretty decent chance you will.
For more information about Super Human Resources, check out their extremely well put together and user-friendly website. (My job would be soooooo much easier if some of the major comics companies had websites as easy to use as theirs.)