The Grey Area: Super Corporate Heroes - Where Have All the Salesmen Gone / by David Anderson

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Remember that whole healthcare debate thing? The one where everyone flipped out and started wondering whether or not our whole insurance industry thing needed repairing, and then a bunch of horror stories came out about people having their claims denied for the most hairsplitting reasons possible, and then a bill got passed that everybody called socialistic because it made a bunch of rules that corporations had to follow? Wasn't that a great moment in American history? Whenever reform of an industry becomes a topic of debate you can be absolutely sure that in the American political landscape, someone is going to try to boil the issue down to a capitalist-vs-communist dichotomy- that it's a choice between government controlling everything for malicious or incompetent objectives, or corporations fleecing you of everything and then dropping you when you need them most.

Super Corporate Heroes (hereon referred to as SCH for brevity) is definitely a champion for the left-wing talking points in the insurance reform debate, in a comedic tale about what it might be like to live in a world where superheroes perform their feats for a service fee. It's written by Suzy Dias and illustrated by Miguel Guerra, too, so you can be sure Rush Limbaugh would have an aneurysm if the work of a woman and a Hispanic ever got their two cents in on the debate over insurance.

So anyway.

SCH is a world where superheroes give you five rescues a month for a service fee and where the debate over what constitutes a rescue changes pretty quickly. And thanks to a culture that is highly uncritical of these practices, we see ordinary people get charged thousands of dollars and have muscle men showing up at their doors to collect payments under threat of superhuman beatdown. Despite these exploitative and cruel examples, people absolutely fawn over some of the more famous insurance enforces like American Icon, who is essentially a caricature of a typical American conservative- former country singer with a patriotic bent who may or may not have objectionable sexual tastes. The universe of Super Corporate Heroes is basically an essay on all the things that could go wrong if we transplanted the current insurance industry into a universe of metahumans.

I don't know, heroes for hire sounds more like it could be a commentary on Private Military Contractors, but then this is a subject that could be explored in a huge variety of ways. SCH is here to make an argument while being amusing and lighthearted about it. Well, it will be to people who don't passionately disagree with the premise.

The writing is competent, though there's no real story structure here. This is a first issue so they decided they needed to establish the universe first rather than open up a story arc. We get to see an example of this insurance industry in action, some news articles and an interview with American Icon- again, primarily the purpose of this series is to create an argument. Being a left-winger myself I am totally open to that. The political right has Frank Miller to write the counterpoint if they wish.

So, the characters so far are just strawmen meant to reinforce the message of the writer. Not great for storytelling, but some of the characters in here seem set to become part of a story about this industry. We'll see in the next issue whether the gross Spiderman parody becomes a smash-the-system protagonist and the Scottish guy with a carpet for a beard becomes his nemeses. Right now, there is no main character or story, just a set-up shot.

Dialogue feels real, though, coherent. The Scotsman's lines are funny thanks to his guttural R's, but even though American Icon is an Elvis parody I can't help but hear his voice being done by Patrick Warburton. And now I hear Patrick Warburton in every sentence I type.

The art is great, at any rate. This guy can do the 90's superhero style really well. Some of the expressions could use a little more polishing but I am comfortable saying that Guerra's art is on par with Dr. McNinja, and Chris Hasting's art is very good. (We just reviewed Dr. McNinja too.) I think the color palette could be a little brighter, a little more vibrant. Still, his character designs are very amusing. I am very much looking forward to seeing what Meerkat and Big Brother become, because they're amusing to watch as a team and Meerkat's beard is luxurious as hell.

I'm interested to see where this goes. If this comic can balance politics with making a coherent universe, this could become an entertaining series. Might even have some longevity, though this type of political comic can become a gimmick pretty quickly regardless of how good it is.

We'll see.

TL;DR: Super Corporate Heroes is a well-thought-out comic book that will probably make your conservative friends angry while providing light-hearted satire for your liberal friends.

Super Corporate Heroes is a comic book written by Suzy Dias and Miguel Guerra with art by Guerra. It's published through 7 Robots Inc. You can check out more details and purchase issues 1 & 2 on their website.