Elmer: A Comic Book

Gerry Alanguilan, SLG (www.slgcomic.com), $12.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-59362-204-6
Jake Gallo is an angry young man, frustrated at his lack of employment and easily provoked by perceived slights. It is not until we are several pages into the book that we discover that he is also a talking, thinking chicken. He is no anomaly; decades earlier, all of chickenkind suddenly gained intelligence and speech; by the 2000s they are legally human. Jake's father's illness and subsequent death lead Jake to read his father's account of the early days after the change; this in turn allows Alanguilan to show the reader the often horrific sequence of events that followed chickenkind's sudden elevation to sapience. Used to seeing chickens as food or worse, humans are not shown at their best as they react, often violently, to this sudden alteration of the natural order. The gorgeous b&w art, full of lush pen work and strong expressions, takes what should be a self-evidently ludicrous proposition and somehow imbues it with plausibility, drawing readers into a brutal, blood-soaked tale of a transformed species and the outrage and savagery of their former owners. A peculiar but engaging work that deserves attention. (Nov.) T he Adventures of Unemployed Man Erich Origen, Gan Golan, Ramona Fradon, Rick Veitch and Michael Netzer Little, Brown, $14.99 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-0-316-09882-3 A superhero-filled parable of the current economic crisis that is in turns informative, smart, funny and preachy. Origen and Golan's story follows a superhero formerly known as the Ultimatum, who had championed a misguided campaign to educate society's poor on how to best lift themselves up by their bootstraps. After he's fired from the job, he hits rock bottom and joins with other heroes who tried to make an honest living by following what they'd thought were the right rules only to be crushed and tossed aside by an unfair economic system. Together they fight an organization led by the uncaring Invisible Hand and filled with characters meant to represent everything from key economic officials of the past decade to current and former investment banks. They realize that in order to succeed they'll need coordinated efforts from far more than a small band of heroes. Though the entire message comes off as preaching to the choir, the superhero pastiche, drawn in a Silver Age comics style with nods to Jack Kirby by three highly individualistic artists, gets the point across in an enjoyable way. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/08/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
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