Super Human Resources: Season One TPB – Ken Marcus

2 out of 5

As can be said about way too many humor books: Funny idea, unfortunate execution.

SHR’s premise can be somewhat extrapolated from its title – in its pitch of the world, super heroes work for a government run agency called ‘Super Crises International’, or SCI, and these collected four issues are a peek at what it’s like working for them, slanted toward the office comedy format – but at the same time,  the title is misleading: We mainly pivot around Tim, who’s in finance, and not HR.  Sure, it all amounts to the same style of gags, but think about the provenance there: The title was obviously chuckled at, the general premise derived, and then it was slapped together without bothering to do very much with the titular department at all.  This is how it reads: As ideas slapped together without very much to do with one another beyond a general premise.  Essentially think of every webcomic “super heroes in real life” yuk and bind it under a single title with a small cast.

Less snidely, that’s not an outlandish setup for an okay funny book, but then SHR commits the sin of not being all that funny.  It starts out with a pretty aces first issue – background jokes, Tim’s onboarding process as a temp a sufficient way of introducing us to bits and bobs along the way – and while there are already some hints of joke pacing issues, both in script and art, it’s a good low-budget take and mostly satisfies the premise’s potential.  But we skip ahead a week in the next issue and already the thread starts to unspool: Scribe Ken Marcus can’t settle on fish-out-of-water comedy or weird-as-commonplace hijinx and so flip-flips between both, removing any sense of personality for Tim: He is just the guy in most of the panels.  Artist Justin Bleep similarly imbalances things, his simplistic, one-dimensional way stylized style already an acquired taste, butchered by not remaining on model with his designs – character dimensions and attributes start to vary wildly.

On top of this we can add the piss-poor attempt at plotting (someone wants to close SCI!) which is just a weak link to justify stringing us along and an undercurrent of ignorance regarding language and gender (using ‘retarded’ as an insult multiple times, regardless of the fact that it’s issued by the bad guy, just seems surprisingly unaware in this era) and it adds up to a book that is mostly a missed opportunity.

There are some smiles along the way, and as mentioned, the first issue is solid, but any patience with clever writing is ditched thereafter for predictable one-off jokes or parodies.