everyman #1 (Low Key Comics)

everyman-header.jpgYou might expect an average joe who gains superpowers to go fight evil, but this gloriously subversive black comedy has a different route in mind for its garbageman-turned-hero.

 

 

22 pgs. B&W; $2.50

(W / A: Justin Crouse)

 

You might expect from its proletariat title that "everyman," a garbage man who suddenly acquires superpowers, is some hardworking, honest joe who accepts his solemn duty to battle evil geniuses and rescue damsels. Ya know, like when Green Lantern discovers the dying old GL, accepts the ring and lantern, recites that corny oath, puts on a pair of form-fitting pajamas, and flies off to defend the quadrant from non-yellow perils. Sworn duty to protect, and all that.

 

everyman sounds a bit pompous, even—doesn’t it? You’re ready for the smarmy noblesse oblige dripping from that stale bumper sticker of a Spider-Man cliché, "with great power comes great responsibility." (Hey, wasn’t that "with great roles comes wooden acting"? Heard of that one guy who’s not in the Tobey Maguire Fan Club? I’m him.)

 

The cover to Everyman #1 by Justin Crouse. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Not so fast, bubba. This everyman is two things at the same time: he is the vehicle for a pleasantly funny black comedy; also, he is bitter and angry. Does that imply that the average fella is bitter and angry? Or do you have to be a garbage man, who traffics in the crap we leave behind, to get good and bitter? Does it help to have to have an independently wealthy wife who refuses to share her money? And to have your father-in-law literally leave out shit for you to pick up on your garbage route?

 

Well, of course all that misery would just be extra gravy for the turkey, but I’d like to think that everyman is average by virtue of being terminally "on the Schneid" in this hypocritical place we call civilization. The occasional pile of shit on the road has a way of ruining your morning, granted, but we see the world through the luckless eyes of this loser-of-the-rat-race, and that’s more than funny, it smacks of brutal honesty. And, based on a short everyman story to be found in the Low Key Comics #1 compilation, I don’t think this guy does damsels-in-distress. Not without a little prodding, anyway. He’s a little too jaded for the Green Lantern or Spider-Man gig, thanks.

 

The first issue of Justin Crouse’s everyman title has promise. This fired garbage man drinks away his sorrows at Big Al’s Shrimp & Tits—nice. He can’t stand the good-for-nothing "wetback" garbage men he toils with—in its way, this is a revelation: we don’t have to like this guy. He’s "everyman," and if the average schlub is a quasi-racist guy locked into a joyless marriage and a crappy job who hates his lot, you’ll get no eloquently worded disagreement from me. Crouse’s honesty may be too much for some readers. But hey, this everyman isn’t a saint—he’s the human animal who seems to imply in the issue’s last panel that for this garbage man, it’s payback time. It’s not just LOL-funny (as in when our hero tries to hang himself, advising "Kids: don’t try this at home"), it’s gloriously subversive. Titling this issue "Infinite Midlife Crisis," a nod to that late, bloated DC miniseries, is more of the same.

 

The art has a casual feel that reminded me of work by Queen and Country / The Damned artist Brian Hurtt. It’s expressive—funny when it needs to be, and morose when it needs to be.

 

In the interests of full disclosure, it should be noted that PLAYBACK:stl Comics Editor Jason Green is cited for "invaluable editorial consideration" on the title page of this one, and that’s how it was brought to my attention. But don’t question my objectivity, ‘kay? If this low-budget, premiere-issue offering deserved a thrashing like most of its ilk, I wouldn’t be averse to escorting this baby down to the whipping post for a proper welcome to the world. Probably. Truth be told, I’m not interested in trashing low-budget labors of love that achieve obvious suckitude. At that point, I’d probably just beg off the review entirely and read something else. But the writing here is really strong—I hope Jason will show me everyman #2 when it’s ready, too. | Byron Kerman

 

See the related links below for a 6-page preview of everyman courtesy of Low Key Comics! Can’t find everyman in your local comic shop? Order it direct at IndyPlanet.com!

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