Review: Hero 9 to 5 OGN


hero9to5ogn_review-1 Hero 9 to 5 is an original graphic novel, written by Ian Sharman (Alpha Gods, Eleventh Hour) with art by David Gray, and colours by Yel Zamor. Released in October from AAM/Markosia, you can order Hero: 9 to 5 from your local comic shop now, with the Diamond Previews order code of AUG10 0726.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Welcome to a world where being a superhero is just another job.

A world where only the rich can afford the comprehensive hero protection policies that ensure that the best heroes will come to their aid in an emergency. The poor, however, have to make-do with protection from government sponsored agencies with limited resources whose staff are…shall we say…a little less heroic.

Jacob Reilly, aka Flame-O, is just one such hero, an everyday guy who just happens to be able to shoot flames from his hands. He didn’t want to be a superhero, he wanted to be a musician, but he wasn’t good enough to make a living at it. So he ended up getting a job at “Heroes For Zeros,” a government sponsored hero agency. So, Jacob clocks on, works nine to five (unless he’s short on cash and does overtime or, worse, a night shift) and fights z-list villains for a pathetic pay cheque.

Despite being a super hero, Jacob has all the problems of regular folk – an irritating boss, bills to pay, professional jealousy, and also certain problems that are unique to his profession… like the fact that his girlfriend is also his alter-ego’s nemesis, Frostica (and she’s insanely jealous of his teenage sidekick, Pink Girl).


It’s a popular question these days, “what would it be like if Superheroes really existed?”. That is, what would superheroes really be like, in a world like ours, teeming with corruption, poverty, and crime? Would they be the perfect god-like specimens that are portrayed in Marvel/DC titles, or would they be something different, something more flawed? Garth Ennis asked the question with The Boys, Mark Millar tackled it with Kick-Ass, and Warren Ellis had a go with comics like Black Summer, No Hero, and Supergod. That’s not to say that the topic has been “done”, not by any means, as there is still a lot of potential in the idea, with many different slants that can be put on it, indeed, it’s almost become it’s own sub-genre of superhero comics.

Hero 9 to 5 explores this key concept, but takes a slightly different approach from the series listed above. It’s a much more British affair, rife with wry humour, and send-ups of British culture and an overly bureaucratic system. The Heroes of the story work for a government sanctioned super-team, called Heroes 4 Zeros, and like you’d expect, they work on a shoe-string budget, and have to fill out ten forms for every action they take. Anyone that has the money to afford it buys supervillain insurance from POW!,  the private super-team. To that end, they recruit only the best heroes, and Heroes 4 Zero get all the leftovers, the metas who aren’t really looking to be heroes, but just want a paycheck.

It’s a clever concept, and Sharman uses it as the background against which to tell his story of a hapless hero, who falls in love with a beautiful female supervillian. It’s a tale of a love that should not be, but seems to work against all the odds. The story has action, suspense, drama, and lots of ass-kicking fight scenes! Along the way, there’s tons of laughs to be had, in a script that’s packed with one-liners, in-jokes, and marvelous parodies of the superhero genre.

The story is brought to life through the artwork of David Gray, with colours by Yel Zamor. They do a fantastic job of giving the book a big, bold, superhero look, so it almost feels like you’re reading a title like Teen Titans. This is great, because it works as a great juxtaposition to the parodical style of the story. Even though the story is mostly making fun of the superhero story, Gray has still put a lot of work into designing the individual superheroes. There’s definitely a few pastiches of famous characters in there, but at the same time, he’s designed loads of all new characters just for the story.

Hero 9 to 5 is a unique and hilarious take on the concept of the real-world superhero. Like the best parodies, it doesn’t merely make fun of the genre on which it is based, but accentuates some its sillier aspects, while telling a great story in its own right. Sci-Fi had Douglas Adams, Fantasy has Terry Pratchett, and while this isn’t quite at the level of those great authors, it’s a damn good attempt to do the same for comics!

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