I mentioned before that–aside from a couple of Archies and Science Ninja Hero Batman, I didn’t do a whole lot of shopping at this year’s HeroesCon–but I did manage to pick up a few things that I’d been interested in, and I finally finished reading them.
First up, Fred Chao’s Johnny Hiro:
I’d been hearing great things about this one from Kevin and Rachelle and while I kept meaning to check out the copy I stocked down at the shop, getting the chance to get a copy from Chao himself at the con was something I didn’t want to pass up. And I’m glad I didn’t, because this is seriously one of the best indie books I’ve read in a long time.
I imagine that Chao’s probably sick to death of Johnny Hiro being compared to Scott Pilgrim, but the books are very comparable, and if you like one, chances are that you’ll like the other. They’ve both got the same kind of manic energy that almost leaps off the page, and they both focus on characters that are wandering through their lives when they get caught up in wild, fantastic situations, generally revolving around their significant others, although in Hiro, Chao swaps out Bryan Lee O’Malley’s video game references for hip-hop and a cat named DJ Fuckin’ Thanksgiving.
And if those three panels don’t make you want to buy this book immediately, then brother, you’ve got more willpower than I do.
Anyway, now that the necessary comparison’s out of the way, more about the story: Johnny Hiro’s a young man living in Brooklyn with a great girlfriend named Mayumi and a crappy job as a waiter, doing his best to get by when a rogue atomic super-lizard attacks–seeking revenge for a rocket-powered uppercut delivered thirty years ago–which leads to a rip-roaring adventure involving car chases, apartment hunting, the 47 Ronin, and an extended reference to the late 80s/early ’90s’ greatest courtroom sitcom so amazingly sharp that it’s worth the price of admission by itself.
It’s wild, obviously, but Chao’s able to use the slapstick and high concept not as the focus of the story, but as the background for Johnny and Mayumi’s story, and he pulls it off with a verve that very few creators could come close to. Even the gimmick of using footnotes to cite real-world sources is beautifully done, and it’s honestly everything that an independent book should be: thrilling, genre-bending, sweet, and most of all, fun.
Your local store might have a copy, and if not, they should be able to order it, or you can grab it from Amazon or direct from AdHouse, and you should. It’s a great read.
The other book I picked up was Ken Marcus and Justin Bleep’s Super Human Resources:
I’ve been aware of SHR since it started but hadn’t had a chance to read it, so I was pretty excited when Marcus contacted me about doing a review, because it’s got one of those nifty high concepts that’s so perfect in its simplicity: A temp is hired by a super-hero team that runs like a corporation, and has to deal with everyday office hassles mixed in with the occasional rift in time or evil opposite from another dimension. It’s full of potential right from the start, and Marcus was a nice enough guy when I got the trade from him that I was hoping it’d be good, just so I’d be able to say nice things about him.
And there was no need to worry on that front, as it’s a great little read. More than anything else, the humor of it reminds me of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International, but with the emphasis moved even further away from the action and onto the character interaction than it was there. It’s got the same kind of humor that’s built on the established tropes of comics–my favorite of which is the lead character’s boss, Roger, who becomes Dark Roger halfway through the series–and right from the first few pages, there are great gags.
Even more than what it does, however, I like what Super Human Resources doesn’t do. It would be easy for the book to riff on Office Space or The Office, but aside from the nuts and bolts of corporate life that make up the book, Marcus and Bleep avoid that trap completely. I didn’t even spot a single TPS report joke (which was a relief), and while there is a frustrating copier, it’s taken in a great direction that was cracking me up by the end of it.
The trade should be hitting comic book stores in August, and until then, they’ve got the entire first issue available to read on their website. So check it out!