Blank Label Comics Appreciation Week: Evil Inc.

I always feel bad when I consider Evil Inc., because I can never quite like it as much as I want to. For one thing, I hate puns. I can tolerate them when they occasionally emerge in Something Positive, and can survive – for the most part – their presence in Dominic Deegan… but with Evil Inc., they are everywhere. It’s the strips formula – when not running through an intense storyline, crank out strip after strip of silly puns.

In the words of a better man than I: “I can’t stand it!”

But… I can’t really find fault with Guigar for this. He likes puns – I don’t. I can’t blame him for that – different tastes are just that, and sometimes, we’re just not the audience a comic – or an aspect of it – is aimed at. So when the puns show up, as they inevitably do, I skim on by and wait for more story.

Unfortunately, there is an element to the comic that I’m less than satisfied with. Don’t worry – as may be obvious, I clearly read the strip, and I’ll get to why in good time. But the one biggest thing that constantly gives me pause when reading it… is that it is built around what appears to be a horrifically flawed premise.

The main concept behind the comic is that Evil Atom, a supervillain who started to feel his age, decided to create a company for supervillainry, with the idea that you could get away with more evil if you did it legally.

Ok. Not a bad thought. A new take on the superhero genre, and one that gives the opportunity to turn a lot of standard elements on their head – which Evil Inc. gleefully does all the time.

But it also, unfortunately, never manages to actually convince me that it is true. The company is constantly involved in all sorts of standard supervillainry… without ever explaining how they get away with it legally, aside from the fact that Guigar says so.

What the strip is actually about is taking a normal supervillain set-up and placing a corporate structure over it, and that’s fine. But the basic premise of the strip – that they are doing all this by the books – is never really justified. (Never mind the fact that many strips indicate they sell useless or misleading products to the majority of their customer base – which, hey, sure, that’s evil, that’s funny… but they aren’t able to convince us how that is good business.)

I know, I know – sometimes, you need to take some things for granted. I mean – this strip is about a world filled with dudes in spandex who defy physics with their every breath, so who am I to argue about realism?

But I’m not arguing that the strip violates the rules of actual reality, because it’s true – it doesn’t have to. But it should be consistent with the internal rules of its own universe, and that is where I see it failing – and it bugs me, because every other strip I find my suspension of disbelief shattered by the fact the strip’s premise is intact through editorial proclamation alone.

So wait – why am I reading this, if I have such an issue with the premise, or the delivery thereof?

It’s because of Captain Heroic. And Miss Match. And Evil Atom. And Iron Dragon. And Oscar. And all the other characters that manage to be entertaining and unique, even while representing the various stereotypes of the superhero genre.

His characters stand out. His storylines about the characters stand out. The dynamic of Captain Heroic and Miss Match was what got me to read the strip in the first place. Evil Atom was never really interesting to me until I saw a bit more of his own personality, his interaction with his family, his background with his old partner – until he congealed as a character, not just a device for the story.

Brad Guigar writes good characters. And if the background of the strip bugs me… well, I’m not reading the strip for that. I’m reading it for the people whose stories happen to take place within that setting – and as long as their stories are good ones, I’m a dedicated fan.

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