The superhero genre is extremely popular within comic books and has been associated with many different clichés and tropes over the years. With this in mind, it is very refreshing to read a story that flips a few of those features on their heads.
Hero 9 to 5 is written by Ian Sharman, with illustrations provided by David Gray and Yel Zamor. It revolves around Jacob Reilly, aka Flame-O, a down on his luck hero who works for a government sponsored agency called ‘Heroes for Zeros’. In a world where hero protection is determined by an individual’s bank account, Heroes for Zeros provides heroes to those who are less financially able. As such, Flame-O finds himself being treated a lot harsher than the heroes at POW, a far more exclusive and prestige counterpart to Heroes for Zeros. The main narrative of the story is quite an interesting and down to Earth take on the problems that modern society has to deal with. It is very easy to compare the superhero strife with the real life disparity between government issued organisations like the NHS and organisations within the private sector that, whilst being more expensive, reportedly contains better services. The idea to make superheroes appear to be nothing more than just employees at another run of the mill job grants this storyline a unique perspective and is sure to be an idea we will see more of in the future.
Another unique twist is the love interest for our underdog protagonist. Frostica, an ice based super-villainess who takes issues with uncaring corporations, catches Flame-O’s attention after he brings her in for arrest. This relationship makes for an interesting dynamic as they struggle to move past Frostica’s shady past. It becomes even more complex when she develops a frosty attitude (pun intended) towards Flame-O’s younger sidekick, Pink Girl.
I particularly enjoyed the writing style of the comic as it often provides insights into the minds of supporting characters, some of them completely random and yet still entertaining. A few of the characters even break the fourth wall in a way that catches you off guard but still leaves a smile on your face.
Characters interact with each other in a way that you would realistically expect, giving the story a certain edge as it strips away the glitz and glamour you would normally find from the genre. It is a very enjoyable read and I would recommend it, even to those who believe the superhero genre isn’t for them.