Comic Review: Bighead’s Bighead full of big heady laughs

By Garth Paulson

Let’s face it, superheroes are easy targets for ridicule. Not taking a genius to poke fun at these selfless, Halloween-costumed crusaders, most of the comedy surrounding the whole superhero universe fails miserably. It is not comedic genius to poke fun at U.S. President George W. Bush by insinuating he isn’t particularly bright or pointing out his similar appearance to some of our primate cousins. In the same vein, a brilliant wit is not evidenced by an affinity for pointing out superheroes’ bizarre state of dress or their tendency to have the perfect tool on them to solve any problem. It’s obvious and tired.

This is not to say all superhero- related humour is bad, it just takes more subtlety to pull it off than saying superheroes are funny, because they look weird. The whole premise of costumed vigilantes engaging in epic, powered battles over the fate of the world, while regular folk are left twiddling their thumbs, is ripe with comedic possibilities. What makes good superhero comedy is not so much trying to place humour into the world of super powered individuals, but rather to just let the natural, and absurd aspects of the genre spin out of control. Like many things the best superhero comedy is often difficult to pick out from among its targets.

Jeffrey Brown’s creation, Bighead, is one such delight. The comic is a bare bones satire of all things superhero-related, this combined with the books deliberate amateurish feel result in a truly hilarious and more than anything fun, look into super powered individuals and the lives they lead. Brown immediately disposes of anything unnecessary in the confrontation between Bighead and one of his various adversaries to advance the thin, cliche-riddled story laced with panel upon panel of devilish wit attacking every institution of comic book lore.

This attack begins with the central character himself. Bighead is a prototypical philanthropic superhero willingly sticking his rather large head into danger and using his powers, which are never truly explained, to help the innocent citizens of the world. After “billions of cosmic neutrinos” passed through his body, blessing him with superpowers, Bighead swore to use his powers for good without seeking personal gain. This leaves Bighead as the classical chump hero, a selfless character so unquestionably good he cannot even muster up the courage to tell the love of his life–Rebessica–the man she is marrying is the villain, The Brit.

This overwhelming desire to do good leads Bighead through a series of exploits against several deviously powered individuals. Heartbroke seeks to use his doomsday device to destroy the world after his girlfriend breaks up with him. The “pressure’s of the world” get to Crabby, leading him to pursue a life as a clawed criminal. While The Puncher just really likes to punch things, he sadly cannot stand up to Bighead’s superior kicking and ducking skills. In all of these encounters Bighead overcomes adversity with enough energy to spout the classical superhero logic that crime doesn’t pay.

With Bighead, Brown gleefully takes every advantage to poke fun at the most conventional and overused mainstream superhero story arcs, such as politicians’ kidnapped daughters and the death of a fellow hero. In doing so Brown masterfully points out the inherent inane aspects of the superhero genre. He is not making fun of these comics per se, more accurately he is showing them as what they fundamentally are escapist fantasies mired in over-the-top characters and nonsensical storytelling. Brown may have aimed at an easy target, but with Bighead he shot it right between the eyes.

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