Clean out your desk by the end of day, it’s time for So You Want to Read Comics. This is our weekly feature where we take a look at a single topic or genre, then give you two comic book recommendations, perfect for new readers, based on that topic or genre. This week we’re looking at comics with people getting fired.
According to the market research company, Harris Poll, roughly around 40% of all Americans have been fired at some point. So, chances are that you yourself, or someone you know have been unexpectedly removed from their position at their employment. Being fired can have negative impacts on a person’s mental health and some of the reported symptoms can include anger, guilt, and fear. But, on the other hand, many people have reported feeling a sense of relief and seeing the incident as a starting point in a new chapter of their life. The act of getting fired has been utilized in literature, film, and television as a vehicle to speak on many topics from issues with capitalism like in Glengarry Glen Ross, inequality like in Office Space, or just learning to appreciate the fleeting parts of life. Comics as well have had their fair share of fictional firings. Did you know you can get fired from The Justice League or The Avengers?
Here are a couple of comic books that utilize someone getting fired as an interesting plot point that are easy reads for people new to comics.
THE MANY DEATHS OF LAILA STARR
Writer: Ram V
Artist: Filipe Andrade
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
You’d think of all positions, being the personification of death, itself would come with some pretty good job security. But that just isn’t the case in The Many Deaths of Laila Starr. In this series humanity is nearing a point in history when immortality is possible. This development comes with a lot of consequences both good and bad, but one surprising result of this is that Death is essentially fired from their position. As a severance package they’re allowed to live out their remaining days on Earth, it just so happens that the time period they’re transported to is right around the time when the person who is going to make the discovery that leads to this immortality is born. Throughout this series “Death” is forced to re-evaluate a lot of things about their existence, from what their purpose is and is it important enough to do something terrible to regain it? They also get the chance to experience things that they hadn’t before simply because they were too wrapped up in their duties, which gives them a newfound appreciation for the people they had only interacted with via death before. This book also touches on the idea of self-determinism, about being able to choose how and for what a person will their life for, beyond the toils of work. This series was a one and done and can be read in its entirety in a single volume or in six individual issues.
The Justice League of America: Babel
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Howard Porter
Publisher: DC Comics
While the thought of someone being fired isn’t typically a happy or welcome thought, the truth is that sometimes people need to get fired. Especially when they screw up big time. This goes for everyone from the frontline worker all the way to the top executives, and in this case, fan-favorite superhero, Batman. Yes, even the caped crusader isn’t immune from getting canned. I won’t go into the details of what leads to Batman getting ousted from The Justice League, as that is the whole premise of this graphic novel, but essentially it can be summed up as: Batman did some pretty messed up things, with good intentions, and those things eventually came to light and in doing so put all of his teammates and the world in great danger. Now, I won’t go on to say that every firing is justifiable, because they’re not, but much of this comic revolves around the idea of accountability and who has the right to hold Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc. accountable. Themselves? Each other? And is there a point where someone can mess up so badly that it cancels out all the good they’ve done, and they have to be let go? Beyond the actual events of the story itself, this graphic novel has an interesting place in the trajectory of Batman in that this is one of the first instances we see of Batman being this tactical genius who can go toe to toe with any being no matter how powerful they are, as long as he has time to prepare, which is a personification of the character that has persisted ever since.
What did you think of these recommendations? Do you have any of your own? Let us know in the comments section below.