Even if you don’t have the extreme knowledge that some can claim to, you’ll likely be aware that there is more than just a couple of comics out there in the world. There’s a whole mass of them, spanning a wide variety of genres. Now, you’ll likely have heard of the big companies: Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Zenoscope, Image… these are all big names in the industry, and all produce works which get far more reviews per issue than some ought, to be perfectly frank about the matter. So what about the smaller companies? The ‘indie’ ones? Well, that’s where we’re going to be looking today, Wanderers, at a sadly little known comic called Hero: 9 to 5.
Now, to be fair, by little known, I am talking in comic terms. And I feel like I’m doing a great disrespect to the work by using the term. You see, Hero: 9 to 5 is one of the cleverest comics I’ve read in a long while, and I pretty much almost gave up on the whole genre for a while due to being sick of various representations (or lack thereof) and less than stellar writing. That’s not to say there isn’t brilliant stuff out there, because there is. It’s just finding it.
Hero: 9 to 5 was one of those finds. I came across this comic at Glasgow Comic Con last year, the first in 15 years. At the con was comic creator Ian Sharman, selling some of his wares. While to you I am the mysterious Z, in person, yeah well, I’m not that mysterious. More awkward, but I caught sight of this comic and my interest was piqued. I gave over the money, and set to reading. Boy, am I glad I did.
Hero: 9 to 5 takes place in a world in which being a super hero is pretty much just another job. Those who are rich can afford top of the line super hero protection, and everyone else has to make do with government sponsored agencies. And this is where we meet our lead character, resident emo boy Jacob Reilly, aka Flame-O. Okay, maybe calling him emo is a step too far, but the thing about this comic that’s really important to remember? It’s a very well done satire, even down to the striking art.
(Okay, admittedly, I did not click on to the art being part of the satire till my third or fourth read through, but that’s how compelling the story is; it made me enjoy art I’d otherwise cringe at.)
Now, here is where things get complicated. You see Wanderers, as much as I would just love to squee and give you the full story in immense details, I am resisting the urge. I enjoy this book to a ridiculous extent, and want others to have the same experience of discovering what it’s about by themselves the way I did. So, you’re just going to get the blurb from the back of the book:
Jacob Reilly, aka Flame-O, is just one such hero, an everyday guy who just happens to be able to shoot flames from his hands. He didn’t want to be a super hero. He wanted to be a musician, but he wasn’t good enough to make a living at it. So he ended up getting a job at “Heroes for Zeroes,” a government sponsored hero agency. So Jacob clocks on, works nine to five and fights z-list villains for a pathetic pay cheque.
If that doesn’t at least make you the tiniest bit interested, then I have to wonder at you people, seriously. Hero: 9 to 5 basically follows Jacob through his average working day, spread out over a period of time, as he deals with the job, his love life, getting a new sidekick who happens to have a crush on him, oh and did I mention that his love life also involves his alter-ego’s nemesis Frostica? (Who is actually exceedingly cool – pun not intended – and Sharman really needs to write a book about her, hint hint.)
Yeah, it really does read like a sitcom. And, it really sort of is. Like I’ve said, the whole book is satire, with some being very obvious (The Dark Loner) to others being more clever and hidden, and it is just as I am writing this that I am realising you could probably compare Jacob to Peter Parker and that is either a sign I need sleep or Sharman needs to write for Marvel now. It’s never shoved into your face, however, which can make for a refreshing change depending on your media choices. It’s also been discussed that a great academic article on female representation in comics can be written with this comic. Trust me, it would be a good read.
Basically, if I had to sum up this comic in a single phrase, I think it would have to be “WHY ARE YOU ALL NOT READING THIS RIGHT NOW?!” … Hey, I never said it would be a great phrase.
And there’s a sequel coming. Bliss.