Sacramento’s D. Bethel and Eben Burgoon can create some great mock adventure comic books. They’ve done with their “Eben07” (pronounced “ebb-en oh seven”) series what Mike Myers did with his “Austin Powers” movies in the ‘90s: spoof espionage films. The twist? The spies aren’t really spies.
“Ebon07” covers the misadventures of a couple of secret agents . . . or, rather, secret agents’ janitors Eben07 and Ninja Dan. They are government janitors whose mission is to clean up after the mission and therefore to clean up the aftermath mess (e.g. dead bodies, explosion debris) from the spies’ assignment. The agency they work for is I.C.A.—Intelligence Cleaner Agency. Thus the series’ logo: “After the cloak and dagger comes his [Eben07’s] mop and bucket.”
“Eben07” is filled with the elements of the typical spy story but with the janitors replacing the spies in the hero roles. Yet they find themselves stuck with the spies’ work but, again, in the aftermath. They go incognito on secret missions. They also get involved with romance along the way, as in romantic comedy of course. The series involves futuristic gadgets and even some straight out sci fi/horror elements such as zombie-like cyborg janitors.
The series is organized into several episodes, or “Operations”. The episode your Examiner sampled (through an issue number one complimentary copy given to him for this review) was entitled “Ebon07: Operation: 3-Ring Bound”. Eben07 and Ninja Dan are chosen for a somewhat different mission in this episode: to investigate a series of disappearances of campus custodians at Popkin High School.
The humor fits the espionage spoof really well in this episode especially when Eben07 and Dan, who are in their early 30s, get into their disguise roles of high school students. The irony is that, in acting these roles out, they are also simultaneously confronting their own identity crisis as adults. This includes awkwardness in trying to fit into today’s teen culture nearly blowing their cover while doing so. The humor in this is demonstrated well when Dan, at a bus stop, shakes hands with another “student” (agent) in the manner of the average grownup, and Eben07 says to him, “Don’t shake hands wearing that get-up . . . ! You’ll blow our cover in an instant!” Eben07 immediately realizes he’s done just that and so says, hand clamped to mouth, “Erp! I just screwed up a whole bunch, didn’t I?”
Eben07 even has a romantic experience with a “classmate”—another agent incognito. One scene shows his awkwardness as both adult and teen when the two talk about what their dads do for a living. He babbles to her, whose dad is a banker, attempting to hide his dad’s meager reputation of “government janitor”. Finally she responds, clarifying, “He’s a janitor at a government building, then?”
The caricature art, such as jutting chins and slash mouths on the guys and wide eyes and huge eye lids on the gals, fits the comedy well. There is a degree of suspense as you would see in an espionage film such as from the James Bond series (who Eben07 is most likely named after with the alliterative play on “007”) while not outweighing the humor. Some of the violence gets a little too graphic (mostly in the manner of blood splattering) for a humorous comic even though the series is made more for an adult audience. However, the storyline as mock espionage is very well-written.
“Eben07” is a comic book series that not only humors the traditional espionage films but also takes a twist in spoofing them by making a spy agency’s janitors the heroes. For more information on “Eben07”, please visit the series’ official website.
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