Well, that was nice.
Issue: One–Star Squadron #6, May 2022
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Steve Lieber
The Plot: Heroes4U is no more, but what does that mean for the former employees?
Commentary: The gig economy hero company Heroes4U is no more. Minute Man had burned down the corporate headquarters, not knowing that the addled Gangbuster was inside at the time. Lex Luthor had been in the act of buying the company out, and Minute Man had a moment of weakness when offered his Miraclo, so he did the only thing he could think of to save the heroes from working for Luthor by burning the place down while the office was closed for the night. He just didn’t check inside first. Seeing the man was in a lot of trouble and feeling genuine remorse, Red Tornado gave him all the money in the safe and told him to run for it.
That was the end of #5. #6 picks up a few months later, and what happened?
Oddly enough, it looks like most of the characters from the series, at least the ones the issue checks in on, are in a better place save for poor Gangbuster. Red still has his house and family. Yes, he has to shop at the dollar store, but he isn’t living on the street. The G.I. Robot is teaching community college classes about superheroing. Power Girl is back to being a regular superhero and loving every second of it. And even Minute Man seems to be in a good place, but I don’t want to say too much about that.
Instead, the issue is largely Red reflecting on, well, heroism and what it may or may not have in common with the gig economy’s hustle. That was, to me, rather fascinating. Essentially, Red asks if he and other heroes do what they do not to do the right thing but to feel like they matter, that heroing is about bringing meaning to someone’s life, and how different is that from running a hustle for cash on a daily basis?
But, in the end, it does seem to be worth it for the characters. Even Red is feeling good about himself in the end. What he did, once he got out of that office, did do good for other people. That seems to be the point to an extent. If you want to matter and do good, maybe don’t do it for the money. Yeah, the mini-series presented it as something that the heroes needed because, well, they need to earn a living too. But it was also a dehumanizing experience, so once away, the characters could more or less be themselves and not worry about constantly needing to earn money doing ridiculous things. That includes Minute Man, someone who has massive guilt over his accidental murder but may still find some sense of peace.
Basically, this was what I have come to expect from writer Mark Russell. It’s just good stuff, and it raises a point or two that may not be too shocking for people paying some level of attention to the world. But still, it was funny and sincere when it needed to be, and I can appreciate that.