3 out of 5
Humor is subjective. I get that. So obviously you’re going to be more or less partial to something that’s aiming to be funny… if you find it funny. And Captain Rottsteak’s brand of humor in Everything is Super veers a bit more toward the scatalogical than is my preference – where if a joke ends with a reference to diarrhea or masturbation, it’s assumed to be a punchline as-is. So if that’s your brand, you’ll likely get more mileage out of this collection of EiS’s four issues, which thankfully build off of an intriguing art style, and a fun structure, and some other solid situational jokes, meaning that there’s a good foundation for the diarrhea and masturbation to be dropped atop of.
The general setup of the book isn’t entirely original, in which our protagonist is the sole unpowered fella in a world of superpowered fellas and dames, but I liked Rottsteak’s spin on this: in that it doesn’t really matter either way. Lloyd is a sad-sack loser with tons of bad luck, but it seems like this would be his lot regardless of whether he had powers or not, and furthermore, the “superpowers” of EiS are often mundane or pointless – a narcoleptic who has fire powers; a kid who generates slime. Even when someone has some potentially useful powers, they’re ruined because, like, these people are still human – they mess up their relationships, lose their jobs, and end up hanging out in sewer tunnels, getting drunk. (That’s pretty human behavior, yeah?) So that’s the joke – maybe Lloyd would be wearing his goofy Adam West-esque Batman suit whether or not the world was “super,” but surely the bullies he faces at school would still exist, just as surely as he’d be bumming around with his lame-powered friends and poking fun at each other, bumming around town.
But even that’s not really the direction Rottsteak takes things. Across the four issues, Lloyd gets punched by a baby, harassed by a squirrel, threatened by a science-experiment-gone-wrong, and more, and though these beats feel a bit random (even moreso than just my listing of them might suggest), I really enjoyed the feeling of how they came together in the final issue. In that sense, scatalogical stuff aside, Everything is Super takes the form of one of those gags with an extended punchline – where you’re just telling an odd story for a while (three issues), until you can finally make all the oddity make sense with the conclusion. Ultimately, that’s worth it, but it’s a bit of a gamble for a comic, and it makes a lot of the “extras” in the book – the whole premise, for example – feel too clearly “extra,” which I wouldn’t think is intended; that is, all the little side gags and happenstances to bring us to issue 4 should be integral, but since the m.o. is to basically put sad-sack Lloyd through the wringer, the ending comes across as a bit after-the-fact, even if it’s a successful distraction.
Rottsteak’s photo-reference style is well-balanced here by the artist’s sense of focus and use of color: the Captain knows that the excessive detailing that can be achieved with the look can be overwhelming for a whole page, so a lot of times flat backgrounds are used to break it up, and along with choice use of zoom ins / outs and occasional panel-grid changeups – not always sticking to strict squares – the book is really pleasing to the eye; really well paced. Birdcage Bottom Book’s printings have proven to be solid, and this collection is no exception: the stock and covers are pliable but sturdy, and Rottsteak’s light but colorful palette leaps off the page.