Sunday, December 19, 2010

Spin Is Job One

Comics have reflected political viewpoints pretty much as long as there have been comic books (Little Orphan Annie strongly reflected the Rooseveltian Depression-era politics of the 1930s, books such as Captain America captured the patriotic fervor of the war years, Superman always supported the American ideal). For the most part, though, the comics existed to tell an entertaining story, while the politics were secondary.

That's not the case with Erich Origen & Gan Golan's The Adventures of Unemployed Man. The raison d'etre for this book is entirely political: Origen and Golan want to present a very left-slanted view of  current economic conditions, and everything else is secondary. They're not telling a superhero story--they're presenting propaganda clothed in superhero tropes.

The result is a book that is so ham-fisted and unyielding in driving home its one-sided points that it fails to entertain. Even energetic artwork from such creators as Ramona Fradon, Rick Veitch, Michael Netzer, Thomas Yeates, and Shawn Martinbrough can't salvage a story whose only purpose is to perpetuate one-sided political views. The tone is overly strident throughout, and any opposing views are set up as paper tigers designed to be immediately knocked down.

In the hands of someone skilled at combining wit and history (Larry Gonick, for instance), Adventures of Unemployed Man might have had a chance. As it is, this is a book that can only appeal to those who agree with its politics--because ultimately, that's the only content that matters for the book's writers.

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