Due in part to the wealth of superhero movies that have hit the big screen during the past decade-and-a-half, (as well as the numerous comicbooks on which they are based), we all have this image in our collective heads as to what a superhero is. As anyone can tell you, Superheroes are (mostly), gleaming spires of truth, honor, and justice. They (usually) don’t kill, and they (tend to be/often are) paragons of virtue. Only, really, not so much: As we’ve seen over and over again, there seem to be as many deconstructions of superheroes as there are superheroes themselves. Needless to say, it is with “dysfunctionality” this in mind that we discuss this particular comic.
Back in 2002 writer Garth Ennis, along with Amanda Conner (pencils and lettering), and Jimmy Palmiotti (inks) produced a one-shot prestige pseudo-“Adult” comic entitled The Pro, which was published by Image Comics. Actually written as a parody of mainstream superhero comics, The Pro is about the (all-too-brief) career of a prostitute who was essentially given superhuman powers by the Viewer, a mysterious extra-terrestrial being, who accepts a bet that the woman that they are viewing can become a super heroine, that woman being the Pro.
What Ennis did, was that he took a real-life situation and dropped it into a superhero trope. The Pro is the story of an ordinary 17-year-old high school student (who was never given a name) who had an affair with (was seduced by) her guidance counselor, and subsequently got pregnant. Needless to say, her parents did the thing that proper parents do, and promptly kicked her out of their home. Now, out on her own, she was forced to take a waitressing job at a local Denny’s (where she worked nine-plus-hour shifts for crappy pay, and (to make ends meet) started turning tricks in order to support herself and her child. This is where we enter the story and during one night (after a hard day’s work, and ane even longer night of giving hummers and hand-jobs), she comes home to her crying child and disgruntled babysitter. the following morning, upon awakening, she discovers that she has been given super-human abilities.
Next she is visited by the cartoonish League of Honor (essentially ridiculous caricatures of the Justice League. This group of hyper-moral heroic icons is comprised of the Saint (Superman), the Knight & the Squire (Batman & Robin), the Lady (Wonder Woman), the Lime (Green Lantern), and Speedo (Aquaman), who induct her into their number, give her a costume and a name. While she initially objects to getting involved in their nonsense, she accepts their offer is that there is a stipend attached to being a member of their little superhero party. Almost immediately, they are called to a mission, to fight off the Grammatical Gang of Grimness (comprised of The Noun, The Verb, The Adjective, and The Adverb — (all the proper names are taken, the Saint explains).
During this fight, The Pro takes a hit from The Noun (the female member of the villain team), and goes Postal on her. First The Pro punched the Noun through the wall of the UN then delivers her the beat-down of her life and winds up urinating on the Noun’s face. Yeah, if you haven’t guessed by now, this isn’t yer daddy’s comicbook. Well, after this incident the League reviews her membership and behavior (she tends to curse quite a bit). Well, anyways, things go downhill from there (The Pro and some of the other working girls from the neighborhood inflict a bit of radical payback on a particularly nasty John that they have all encountered. Not at all happy with all of the (very specific, and quite nasty), damage they inflict on him, he shows up at The Pro’s place and threatens to kill her kid. This disaster is averted by The Saint’s timely appearance.
The Pro then repays The Saint for saving her son’s life by, well, doing so in a fashion that prostitutes tend to do, resulting in a situation that riffs on an essay written back in 1971 by Si-Fi writer, Larry Niven, with humorously disastrous results. Well, there’s more, but if you are a fan of superheroes (and really, who isn’t?) you really need to attempt to acquire a copy of this yourself. There is also a hard-bound version that contains a back-up story of The Pro’s further adventures. As stated at the onset of this article, The Pro is not a comicbook for kids, as The Pro curses like a longshoreman, smokes like a chimney, breast-feeds her baby, and is quite often less than completely dressed (yes there is some partial nudity), and inflicts epic amounts of ultra-violence on those that totally deserve it. Personally we have been looking this comic for some 10 years, and was quite excited to have found it when we recently ran into Jimmy Palmiotti at a recent comic convention.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.