I’m a Jerk
Remember the old adage “Never judge a book by its cover”? Turns out I suffer a bit from that same thing, but I question you, my readers, is that such a bad thing? I’m here today to review Scott Roger’s comic Bedbug #1, and, as you can see, there are slightly different covers, one of which came with my review copy, the other that is on the actual books for sale. I had a real big issue with the cover I got, the one on the left, but I will get to that later. First I would like to review the one on the right.
For a species so closely resembling a Tick, this comic doesn’t
Tights and secret identity Super hero comics fall into roughly three categories.
1. The originals, made largely to inspire people about the power of the good of an individual over evil. See Superman (Truth, Justice and the American Way), Spiderman (With great power comes great responsibility), Professor X (Humanity and mutant kind can live together peacefully.)
2. The grays. Grays teach us that super heroes are flawed, like the rest of us. These are many times anti-heroes. A sinner not need be a saint to do good. Some originals have turned into grays over the years. See Batman (I’m not the hero Gotham deserves), Wolverine (I’m the best at what I do, and what I do isn’t very nice), Deadpool (Look! Pancakes!).
3. Satire. These heroes are jokes about the other two heroes, fun house mirrors that can actually show us more about the characters of the original. See The Tick (Spoon!) and Home Made Heroes (Captain Yankee… really?).
Over the years the originals have slowly lost ground over either edgier, darker stories or stories making fun of them. This is a sign of comics striving to mature, but it would be a sad day to forget where they started.
And that’s where Bedbug comes in. Bedbug is made to remind people that comics can be naive and innocent yet still relevant in a not so clean world. Bedbug is an homage to the Golden age of comics with its heroic hero, goofily evil villains, and strong moral message.
Review of cover 2
The book is made up of two short stories and two one page gags. The first story is Bedbug’s origin story. Its a very simple tale that should connect with kids. What’s the first thing you do when you find out you can walk? You try and run… or…. jump in this case. There isn’t much of a causation correlation to his becoming a super hero, but perhaps there doesn’t have to be? Bedbug becomes a super hero, not out of honor, not out of duty, nor regret, but because he can. The origin story, while adults may not gravitate towards, is a good one for kids. The second major story follows the first one page gag. Both one page gags are alright. The first one establishes that his daughter draws him, which is great for the following story which appears to be drawn by a child.
Story two is the main one in the book. While his daughter is at a sleep over Bedbug must fight a crime wave in the city with a super hero friend of his. Art is the best part in this story, and the story does its best to introduce you to all of Bedbug’s villains. Blue Tiger makes a great antiparent, and fulfills the role of second role model brilliantly.
Bedbug is well worth the time to look at, especially if you are thinking of a new hero for your kids, but I strongly recommend checking out the two stories he has for free on his website here Bedbug paints parents as heroes, who strive to be heroes because of their kids.
Review of cover 1/ Rant
I almost gave this comic a negative review for this cover, and it all has to do with expectation. For a whole day I battled with myself. I knew I should like this comic. I knew it was good. But something was biting at me that kept me from liking it.
Towards the end of the day I realized it.
Do you see it?
On the bottom left of the cover on the left?
“Single Father Super Hero”
It wasn’t just that though, everything I had heard about Bedbug, everything I looked up, stressed he was a single father and that this, above any other reason, was why you should read the book. This is an interesting twist, as there are a lot of single parents who raised super heroes, but few who are actually heroes themselves.
And my issue:
I am a parent. My girlfriend was a single parent for just over a year. I know single parents. I know parents. And Bedbug #1 has no real parenting challenges. Normal parents deal with three big aspects of parenting: Structure, Money, and Time. Parents set the structure for which their kids grow. The decide on how to discipline the child, how to raise the child, etc. A two parent house hold has an element of give and take, and the structure is easier to uphold because of the extra authority figure. Parents also need jobs, and often have to get higher paying jobs instead of dream jobs in order to give their kids the life they want for them. Many two parent households have two incomes, which means that there is time for them to be with their kids because, usually, one or the other will have time after or before work to spend with their child. Finally, parents have to deal with the struggle of time. Kids grow up fast, too fast, and every minute we are at work paying for their homes, sports, and toys we are not with them overseeing their growth in moral, intellectual, and physical pursuits. Single Parents have all of these struggles double. Structure is hard to maintain when you do not outnumber the child. Many single parents need to work multiple jobs or longer hours just to give the child the same life they’d have with two parents. This takes away from the time they want to spend with their child. Single Parents are superheroes because the normal troubles of parenting are harder for them, and many do it anyway because they love their child so much.
Bedbug is a multimillionaire who’s only job is being a super hero. He doesn’t worry where the next paycheck is coming from. He doesn’t have to worry about time because he fights crime while his daughter is asleep or at school, and seems to spend a lot of time with her when she is out of school. He doesn’t deal with even two parent household problems. Every problem that is brought up as a “Single Parent Problem” is actually a “Parent Problem”. For a book whose cover includes him spending his crime fighting time with his daughter and a big bolded sentence at the bottom left reading “SINGLE FATHER SUPER HERO” it doesn’t give anything for single parents to connect with except that he is one. His struggles are not the same. I began to dislike him as a character for being able to spend so much time with his daughter who appears to love him so much that she draws pictures of him being a super hero. He doesn’t even have to keep his identity secret from her, and thus the moral dilemma of “Daddy, why can’t you play with me?” “Because… I have… work?” never happens. But this is as an adult reading a kids book, and I realize that my arguments aren’t the point of his book. I simply could not relate to the character.
That is until I read the comics on his site. The one about how he has the change the way he fights crime because he wants to show his daughter that nonviolence is the way real heroes act? That struck me. Go read that one. Here
Some may claim that I am over analyzing, and should enjoy the book for what it is, a children’s book, but I argue differently. Putting it on the cover, making it one of the main reasons to buy the book, seemed to be a money grab. Kids don’t care if the super hero is a single parent. Kids would rather see themselves as heroes. It is included just to entice parents and single parents to buy the book. Spiderman doesn’t say “Skinny nerd super hero”, Superman doesn’t say “Farmboy Super Hero”, Batman doesn’t say “Orphan Super Hero”. They survive on their own merits. I analyzed the book the way that it seemed I was intended to by the attention drawn to that main fact. I don’t think it is a good example of being a parent and a super hero. His daughter seems to purely exist for the purpose of making him a single father.
I am sorry Mr. Rogers for the way I initially thought of your comic. I was wrong, and let personal issues interfere with my review. I would like to let you know that you have a good work, and one I can see growing strong. As a golden age super hero comic it works splendidly, and kids 6-12 should eat this up and feel great for doing so. Adults? Give it a try. I didn’t find much to stick to, but, besides the obvious, what did strike me struck me in a good way.