What if being a super hero was just like any other job? What if you fell in love with your arch enemy? What if your sidekick had a crush on you? Meet Jacob Reilly, aka Flame-O. He didn’t want to be a hero, he wanted to be a rock star, but now he’s stuck working for Heroes for Zeroes, and his life is about to get, really, really complicated.
I happened to get this book on impulse, while scanning through Comixology. I’d never heard of it before, but the premise sounded interesting, and it was just $2.99 to get this edition collecting 4 issues. Created by Ian Sharman (writer) and David Gray (artist), with nice coloring by Yel Zamor, this series from Markosia Enterprises Ltd. is set in England and tells the story people existing in a world where superheroes (& villains) are real, but most of them work for private enterprises as “insurance.” If you can pay for insurance, you can get protection by the greatest superheroes, who work for a company called POW, and are beloved by the public and treated like the heroes they are, while making lots of money and living like stars. But if you can’t afford to pay for the private insurance, there is a government-run superhero agency, called HEROES 4 ZEROS, employing lesser-known heroes, for very low wages. These heroes get treated with disdain and are mocked not only by the public, but also by the superheroes who work for POW.
ISSUE #1/”HOT STUFF” introduces us to Jacob Reilly aka Flame-O, who has fire-powers. He dreams of being a rock star with women throwing themselves at him, but in reality he lives in a crappy little apartment, barely paying his bills with his job at Heroes 4 Zeros, working alongside other C-list heroes, such as The Rocket, The Loner, Mental Lady, and Thunder Woman. His boss is a crabby older man named Steve, who is always on Flame-O’s case for screwing up. He goes into work and is given an assignment to get to a pawn shop that is being robbed by a supervillain. Flame-O gets there late because he gets stuck in traffic, and by then the villain has already made off with all the pawn-shop’s money, much to the chagrin of the shop owner, who threatens to complain to Flame-O’s boss. Flame-O desperately tracks the villain, who has ice powers, and catches up to her to discover she’s an extremely beautiful (& busty) woman called Frostica. Frostica claims to not be a real villain, she’s just fighting corporate greed, robbing from the rich and all that, but Flame-O points out that the pawn shop she robbed couldn’t even afford insurance, so she picked the wrong target to try to make a statement. Frostica seems genuinely upset to discover that, but still doesn’t want to go to jail. They fight each other, but Flame-O’s fire powers and Frostica’s ice-powers cancel each other out, forcing him to just punch her in the face to knock her out. Later, Flame-O still gets yelled at by Steve and, while having lunch with The Loner, decides to go down to the jail, bail Frostica aka Jane Roberts, out and then ask her out on a date, which she accepts. The date goes well, and ends with them kissing in the rain.
ISSUE #2/”COLD COMFORT” is 3 months later. Flame-O and Frostica are in a serious relationship, although Frostica has doubts about what she wants to do with her life, since being a supervillain hasn’t worked out so well for her. Flame-O gets to work and discovers that Steve has no assigned all the heroes a young sidekick. Flame-O gets partnered with Pink Girl. They go to lunch at a burger join with The Loner and his new sidekick Budgie, when two of the heroes from POW, Captain Awesome and Sentinel-Force show up and, once again, people are treating them like stars, while ignoring the others. Then a trio of supervillains burst in to rob the place, and the heroes team up to fight them. After the villains are subdued Captain Awesome offers Flame-O and the Loner a chance to join POW as their new sidekicks. Speaking of which, in the aftermath of the fight, Pink Girl is missing. She’s been taken to an abandoned warehouse, which Steve is able to track her to, thanks to GPS trackers implanted in all the Heroes 4 Zeroes costumes. Flame-O, The Loner, and Budgie make their way there, to discover that Pink Girl was abducted by Frostica, who saw her and Flame-O together and assumed her was cheating on her. The heroes rescue Pink Girl but Flame-O is still not sure if he should break up with Frostica or not. Is sleeping with a supervillain better than being alone?
ISSUE #3/”FROM FIRE TO ICE” is sometime later. Flame-O and Frostica are still together, although he has nightmares that she’s going to kill Pink Girl, whom he did cheat on her with after he rescued her, and maybe him too if she finds out. Flame-O goes to Pink Girl’s apartment to tell her that nothing can happen between them again, while Frostica gets a call from a supervillain named Dr. Dereliction, leader of the supervillain group RUIN NATION, who wants her to join them for another robbery. She reluctantly accepts, as the villains attack some corporation, so the boss calls in Heroes 4 Zeros to send help. Flame-O and his co-workers show up to fight the villains, and he’s very shocked to see Frostica with them. We get a big heroes vs. villains fight, and the heroes are winning but then Dr. Dereliction grabs Flame-O and puts a gun to his head. Frostica saves Flame-O, officially rejecting the villains now (with Dr. Dereliction swearing revenge) and later the heroes go to a fancy restaurant for dinner. During this time they discuss forming their own superhero team, and Frostica dubs them THE LONGSHOTS. Later, she and Flame-O are back at her place, getting ready to have sex, with Pink Girl appears at the door all bloody and beaten up, begging for help.
ISSUE #4/”THE PART OF ME THAT HATES” Pink Girl says the Sentinel-Force is the one who beat her. Flame-O goes out to get revenge, although Frostica tries to stop him. She then goes to the rest of the Heroes 4 Zeros and, over Steve’s objections, they all go after Flame-O. Flame-O has tracked Sentinel-Force to a local bar that the POW superheroes hang out in after hours, and tries to fight Sentinel-Force, who clearly over-matches him. The rest of the Heroes 4 Zeros team show up, and fight breaks out between them and the POW superheroes. It rages on until Pink Girl shows up, and gets Sentinel-Force to admit that he beat her. The rest of the POW heroes kick him out of their group, and Pink Girl prepares to press charges against him. Later, Flame-O confesses to his Frostbite about what happened with him and Pink Girl before, and she forgives him. THE END
This is fun series that mixes humor, drama, and action in a way that turns traditional superhero cliches on its head without seeming like a slapstick parody. I’m also impressed with the way that each of these first 4 issues stand on its own, giving us a complete story, while also being part of a larger storyarc, so that by the end of the 4th issue you have read a larger complete story. Likewise the art and coloring in this series are top-notch.
CHACEBOOK RATING: FIVE STARS
If you want to check it out yourself before buying, you can get a 10-page preview FREE on Comixology, and then get the collected edition.
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