Evil, Inc.

Evil, Inc. (first strip) (daily M-Sa, mostly gag-a-day, occasional adult situations, punny) is a strip that I’ve been wanting to review for a while now, but it never really seemed like a good time to review it. The strip has been mostly gag-a-day, but every once in a while drops into dramatic storylines like the one going on right now, and I didn’t want to get people started into a strip at a cliffhanger. Evil, Inc. started on May 30th, 2005 and has had no breaks in the M-Sa streak (This is the other strip that I’m rooting for in the Daily Grind), meaning that there’s about 700 strips in the archive.

Evil Inc. is set in a world where superheroes, supervillians, mutants, freaks, and aliens all exist and have existed long enough that the cliche matchups and organizations have settled into patterns. Hero fights villian, villian is thwarted, goes to jail, gets out, fights hero again. Until one day a villian (Evil Atom) decided to start a corporation to organize these villians, which would follow standard business and accounting practices. Which, in this sort of world, means that they manage to do a lot more evil because they’re doing it legally. There’s laws against robbing banks, but there’s little stopping them from organizing a hostile takeover. There’s laws against mugging, but not against credit card fees. And if at the same time Evil Atom can organize the supervillians, henchmen, lackeys, and all the other evil requirements for a nice tidy profit… all the better, right?

Evil, Inc. is a nice, witty strip that covers a lot of ground in an area that doesn’t get mocked thoroughly enough. The Incredibles and various other stories have done a fine job parodying superheroes having to live in a world, but Evil Inc. takes things past that and lampoons everything - superhero/villian genetics, child care, flirting, fame, costuming… nothing in the superhero genre is safe. There’s several regular characters, Lightning Lady, Miss Match, Captain Heroic… just enough characters to hit most of the main parody subjects but few enough to keep everybody straight. Sometimes the speech patterns of the characters run together a little bit, but they’re all distinctively drawn (and the art’s pretty good for B+W line art, too).

Evil, Inc. feels remarkably like a newspaper strip in pacing- and yes, it’s syndicated in several newspapers. I’m frequently surprised with the kind of innuendo and suggestive situations that go into the comic that can make it through the syndicates, but more power to him. Like most of the good newspaper strips, Evil, Inc. doesn’t often make me laugh hard, but I get a good set of chuckles out of the archives, and the humor’s pretty broad. There’s occasionally a pun punchline, but generally it’s part of a snappy comeback as well.

The part that I feel Evil, Inc disappoints in is during the dramatic storylines. There’s a good solid plot going through the strip, and while there’s gags for most of the bits, every once in a while the story requires a climax and the strip goes dramatic for a bit, and I generally find these bits to be a little slow. It looks like it’s just coming out of a dramatic arc now, so hopefully the funny will be coming back shortly.

Evil, Inc. is vaguely a sequel to Brad Guigar (the author)’s previous strip, Greystone Inn, a comic about the behind-the-scenes work to produce a comic, if such work required having a set and script and such. Mostly it’s a sequel in that the characters from Greystone still exist in Evil, Inc and occasionally have parts. Lightning Lady originated from Greystone, for instance, and some of the minor characters in Evil, Inc. were main characters in Greystone as well. You don’t need to know the strip to get any of Evil, Inc’s humor or story, however. There’s only a few scenes where they end up calling some of the bit characters in Greystone, and some backstory about Lightning Lady’s boyfriend.

Evil, Inc. is an engaging read, and a comic I suggest people try. It starts out strong and gives a good indication of what the comic is like for the rest of the run, so it’s very easy to figure out whether you’ll like this strip just by reading the first ten strips or so. Go give it a try.

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2 Responses to “Evil, Inc.”

  1. MHPayne Says:

    It’s nice to see:

    Another thoughtful review page and one that mentions the Daily Grind Contest–even it you didn’t endorse my comic… :)

    I’ve got another of my columns at ComixTalk–if Xavier decides to take it–where I’ll be looking at the Contest on the occasion of its two-and-a-halfth anniversary, coming up at the end of August.


  2. mister k Says:

    I like Evil Inc, but agree about the drama- to me it gets a bit silly when this comic gets dramatic, because the whole underlying plotline seems very implausible to me, and isn’t really explained. I just can’t suspend my disbelief enough for it to work for me.

    (edit by mod to remove specific plotline reference)

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