The Adventures of Unemployed Man is a comic book about the modern economy. How can an unemployed superhero believe in himself? How can the superheros fight against against the Just Us League who want to hoard all the wealth? Can they rescue the Everyman and revive an attitude of solidarity among all people?
One of the major themes of the book is the question of what it means to think positively. In that way the book is at least partially a critique of self-help doctrine and “The Secret” type thinking. The story begins with Ultimatium Man, who believes he can help the poor by challenging them to think positively and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
The change for Ultimatium comes when he realizes that there are people employed (by his company, no less) who still can’t make ends meet. There’s a reality that individuals are not the masters of their own fate, at least not as individuals, but that doesn’t mean giving up thinking positively either, it means thinking positively in a different way.
All in all I liked the comic book, but I felt that it threw too much at us in too small a book, turning every clever joke into a throwaway line rather than something that could be really explored. The cast of characters listed on the website seemed so clever but the book didn’t really contribute much more about any of them than is found on the cast-list and sample pages.
The book is not exactly meant for children. There’s a few slightly sexual jokes none of which my children noticed but the real challenge of it was how much I had to explain to them. Yet that was also the good thing about it too. I had to explain the differences between Wall Street and Main Street. We talked about what the glass ceiling is, and why Fox News Rays makes the overburdened guy transform into White Rage attacking the very things he needs. We talked about outsourcing and the invisible hand. It’s not every book that can get an eight year old asking “Mom, tell me about the Glass Steagall Act. I need to know how breaking it would create a toxic debt blob.”
Here’s a little excerpt from the tv show The Newsroom to help if you find yourselves having to explain this to your kids: