Review: Evil Inc.

Since last week’s review involved a comic that seemed like the Internet’s answer to Calvin and Hobbes, perhaps I’ve been in a bit too much of a mood to compare webcomics to popular things in other media. It doesn’t work all that well, though, because sometimes there’s nothing to compare and sometimes there’s too much. For example, if there’s anything in the older media that compares to Furthia High, I’d rather not know about it. This week, however, there’s a bit too much to compare.

At first, it’s tempting to describe Evil Inc., by Brad Guigar, as Dilbert with supervillains. After all, it’s set at a big corporation and occasionally gives extra attention to a specific department or the workers’ union. You even get the occasional jab at office misogyny from a super’s perspective. In fact, at first gloss the only apparent difference from Scott Adams’ oeuvre is that the art is considerably higher in quality and the plot lines are more complicated. (This plotline kinda resolves here, but its effects are still apparent here and may continue to dominate the comic plotline for some time yet).

Well, then the differences start to crop up. For one thing, you’ll notice that Guigar loves his call desk puns. He really loves him some callcenter comedy. It doesn’t matter if there’s a plot in progress; if there’s a random pun to be made by Lightning Lady on a headset, the comic will be inserted. And if you take a good look at the comics I just linked to in this paragraph, you’ll notice that (with the exception of the Iron Dragon one) most of those panels do some heavy panel recycling.

Reusing panels for throwaway gags isn’t a terrible thing to do, but after a while it gets sort of grating (which I imagine call center work also does). Mostly, it’s disappointing. After all, Guigar does both dramatic and cartoony art well enough to transition smoothly from one to the other in one strip. And once the color comics start, you get to see every curve of … well, let’s just say that Guigar follows the example of comic book artists everywhere. So while seeing repeats of Guigar’s art isn’t as bad as seeing the sort of thing that Powerup Comics actively spoofs, it’s still a little let-down from someone whose fresh art is so appealing.

The writing is heavy on the parody, as the above examples show. There are certainly enough comic book cliches to mock out there, and Guigar mines them for all they’re worth. But, as with most long-running plot-based comics out there, it starts to experiment with more serious fare. This can be good or bad, depending on whether it adds maturity or detracts from the humor.

It’s not until you get into the supplemental information that you find out that Evil Inc. is actually a spin-off from Guigar’s previous comic, Greystone Inn. Apparently Lightning Lady started with a minor role in that comic, then garnered enough attention to go for a solo career of sorts. In which csae, perhaps Evil Inc. isn’t so much Dilbert after all, but whether it’s a Frasier or a Joanie Loves Chachi is still up in the air.

Comic Rating: Three and a half days he will RUE!

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