Review: Hero 9 to 5 Volume 1 (Markosia Enterprises)

With Thought Bubble now in our collective rear view mirror, it’s time for the fun task of reading through all of the new comics we picked up. However, while new is always better (as Barney Stinson would say), we often forget about some of the great comics which we have seen at cons for many years. We check out one such title from Markosia’s stable in the form of Hero 9-5, which follows a group of superheroes who have turned their calling into a job. Can this title still hold Employee of the month or is finally time for it to pick up its P45?

Publisher: Markosia
Writer: Ian Sharman
Artist: Davd Gray (Art), Yel Zamor (Colours)
Price: £2.49/$3.99 on Comixology

In a world where even Superheroes need a day job, Hero 9-5 follows the daily happenings and goings on of the heroes employed by Heroes 4 Zeroes. This government sponsored superteam is employed to help the citizens of the UK who need a superhero to save their life, or protect their livelihood – but cannot afford the superhero insurance of superteams like H4Z’s rival, Pow! From Flame-O, whose liberal effort into his job takes a surprising turn when he falls for his new nemesis; to the near-immortal Thunder Woman, whose efforts on the team aren’t as appreciated in comparison to her cleavage and her dress sense; each member of the team muddles through life as they attempt to save lives and defeat supervillains – all while not causing too much damage or headaches for supervisor Steve.

With Hero 9 to 5. writer Ian Sharman has created a truly funny and surprisingly engaging collection of stories. While comfortably fitting within the Superhero genre, it is more a parody or satire of said genre than a straight up copy. While the concept is not wholly original, (Sam Webster’s Joe Cape is also a comic about insurance related superheroes for example), the focus from a more governmental agency gives the series a black comedy vibe of a TV show like Damned. Meanwile the inclusion of humour and more risque content makes it into a mix of the IT Crowd and the Inbetweeners. The key part of this comic is definitely the humour as Sharman injects a more PG level of Boys-esque humour into the story, using the absurdity of the world Hero 9-5 inhabits to poke fun at the holes in the genre in general – such superheroines appearances, treatment and even the lack of consequence of supervillain death.

Because of this, it is the characterisation in the series that is a real draw as Sharman creates a cast which are essentially pastiches established characters in order to make fun of their respective inspirations. However, far from being carbon copies, these characters are ramped up to eleven, which not only highlights the daftness of the series but equally makes these characters, particularly the Loner and Thunder Woman, intriguing in their own rights. However, this is not all perfect as both the story and characterisation do falter in places. With the former, the more day-to-day procedural vibe appears to slowly disappear with each successive arc, making it appear a more like a generic superhero adventure (although the excellent humour remains and keeps from getting dull). Meanwhile, the character of Frostica, while compelling in places, feels a little clichéd throughout as she is given rather stereotypical responses which feel out of places given what the series is trying to say.

David Gray’s art is incredibly superhero-esque – vibrant, loud and over the top! The look gives off this 90’s superhero vibe, specifically in the manner of Rob Liefeld’s work at the time (albeit with feet). As such, it really works well for this series and is only further enhanced by Yel Zamor’s incredibly rich and eye-popping, yet equally 90’s colour scheme. Overall, the art is solid and enjoyable, although if there is one complaint it is that in this age of more realistic art, the visuals of ‘well endowed’ superheroines feels very stereotypical and out of date – even though satirising those excesses is the point of the story. Like a recurring joke that runs too long, that satire can easily get lost or missed on a cursory glance.

While this title may look very much like a boys comic with all violence and ‘innuendo’ from a cursory glance, much like many of the female characters it depicts, appearances can be deceptive as Hero 9-5 is a highly enjoyable and captivating series, well written and nicely drawn to its humorous best. While some of the character depictions (both in look and personality) may be off putting to some, giving this series the benefit of the doubt and delving in could definitely be one of the better choices you make.