I think we can all agree corporate BS is something most people hate, and it takes a central focus in One-Star Squadron. The series is about a superhero call service that takes a turn this week and wouldn’t you know it, Superman isn’t pleased with the way they run things. His heart is clearly too pure for the market analysis and business choices Heroz4u makes to ensure maximum profits.
If there was an award for satire writer Mark Russell and artist Steve Lieber should get them time and time again. This issue is proof of that, as it shows us the boardroom side of Heroz4u and how their “leadership” works. Meanwhile, Red Tornado is drowning amongst coworkers who hate him and an unfulfilled life of trying to help people working within the system.
Russell smartly uses Superman here to point a finger at Heroz4u’s corporate leadership, because a character as fictitious as Superman is necessary to hold them accountable–in real life and in comics. These corporate figureheads serve as a way to see how poorly managed a company like Heroz4u is and why they fail. Russell is very good at taking depressing and morose ideas and putting a humorous spin on them.
There’s a fascinating bit of captioning for Red Tornado, who says to himself in a key scene, “somewhere along the line, the danger of death was replaced by the dull and enigmatic threat of being fired. Or simply becoming useless.” How relatable for readers today who are fired on a whim or need to take to the streets to demand livable wages.
You’ll feel for Red Tornado through these captions and Lieber’s art. Even though he’s got reddish skin and a somewhat goofy costume, Lieber captures the incredible humanity of this character through his sorrow and stress. You see it on his face, on his posture, and you’ll feel for him reading this issue. I never thought I needed to see a superhero eat enchiladas, but here we are.
A lot of the artistry might go unnoticed because of Lieber’s comedy timing and framing. How Superman exits the opening scene, for instance, works well to make a cut to another character’s reaction seem funny.
Dave Stewart colors the book to perfection, giving everything from the cubicles of Heroz4u to Superman’s costume a realistic feel. It helps that the sky throughout the issue is dark and stormy as if to convey bad times are coming. Little details like the Meat Water logo spelling out “Meat” in pink help us not to miss key touches.
In an age where anti-work movements are on the rise, One-Star Squadron #3 is a mirror being held up that adds entertaining context to a bad situation. One-Star Squadron is a funny, clear-eyed dissection of office politics and the stupidity of corporate ideology. When it comes to satire in comics, Russell and Lieber are peerless.
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