The Comic Queen

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Temporary #1 Review

Temporary 1 from #1: Cubes and Ladders
Origin Comics $3.95
By Damon Hurd and Rick Smith

I can’t believe I overlooked this comic for my single-panel reviews on Tuesday. Maybe it was subconscious – something in my brain telling me this comic deserved a review of its own. Because it most definitely does.

First off, the cover is ingenious, employing a three-dimensional use of the “Cubes and Ladders” play on the children’s game Chutes and Ladders. This cleverness spills over onto the inside front cover, where the “instructions” are given for the game that is “Cubes and Ladders” setting up the premise for the plot and introducing the characters.

The main character of the comic, and the series, is Envy Saint-Claire, a temp who each day works a new job, as the description says “sitting at someone else’s desk, drinking someone else’s coffee, talking to someone else’s friends, doing someone else’s job, living someone else’s life … Everything in Envy’s life is temporary, and that’s just how she likes it.”

This last statement is important, because the book isn’t about a surly day worker cynically taking on any job she can get. Envy comes into the job with a fresh perspective, no decided outlook or judgment. The comic is really about how, from this fresh perspective, a workplace can truly appear. And in this issue it points out just how insane office life can be.

Envy takes a job at the Calvin C. Nelson HMO, “a company where the inmates are literally running the asylum.” In this very funny look at office life, Envy mistakenly ends up on the wrong floor at the HMO, a place where email is hand delivered, data entry equals shredding, and humans are the fax and copier.

As the happenings at the office become more bizarre, the twist becomes apparent, but it says quite a bit that for awhile both the reader and Envy believe the HMO could be a believable workplace.

The real twist comes at the end of the book when Envy goes home for the day. I won’t ruin it for you, but Hurd sets up nicely that there is more to Envy that meets the eye, that this is a character that will develop as the issues go on. This says a lot for the direction of the comic. While the plot revolves around Envy’s changing jobs, she isn’t just the point the plots revolve around, she will develop as a character and be revealed to the reader as the series progresses as well. This is a lot to accomplish in a first issue, and Hurd does it well.

Bottom line: A


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