Our Gift Guide pick, and Cool Comic for today is the perfect way to cheer up a friend or loved one who might feel victimized by the current economic situation. Some might call them “The 99ers” or simply the chronically unemployed, but if you have a comic book reader on your list who’s been out of work for a while, I have the perfect gift for them.

“The Adventures Of Unemployed Man” is the creation of Erich Origen and Gan Golan. Set in a world where everyone seems to be a superhero, “The Adventures Of Unemployed Man” uses wicked satire to shine a light on our current economic state. As the story begins, we meet our hero, Bruce Paine, AKA The Ultimatum, who prowls the city spreading his message of self-help and positivity. He’s very self-righteous until he discovers that his business is part of the problem.

A Rogues Gallery if ever there was one

When he proposes a wage-cap on the board members of Painecorp, he is promptly fired from his own company, and left to face a series of villains (Including Cobra, Plastik, FICO and Kollectus, who leave him homeless. Paine bottoms out and finds himself aligned with Plan B, a former sidekick who’s too old to get hired anywhere, but too poor to retire, and other heroes like Wonder Mother, Fellowman and Master of Degrees.

This is some clever stuff. There are all-too-brief gags like the appearance of Alien Greenspan, the Economalien, and The Broker, a take-off on the Batman villain, The Joker. A serious message is delivered among all the tongue-in-cheek superhero action: The American economy has serious flaws that can’t be fixed overnight by pouring money into corporate bailouts or shifting more burdens onto the working class.

Unemployed Man faces the deadly Human Resouces crew

Luckily, the book is way more funny than preachy. Origen and Golan have done a great job of capturing the feel of a Silver Age 80-page giant comic book, while still delivering on their key message. They tell a fun story with likeable characters, and that makes it more powerful as a parable for our times.

The art is lovely in this book. The book is laid out by Gan Golan, but for the finished art, Origen and Golan brought in some great comic book artists, many of whom made their mark a long time ago.

The bulk of the book is drawn by Ramona Fradon, a female artist who broke into the industry at a time when women were not often seen. I’ve been a fan of Fradon’s since my childhood, when she was the key artist on Aquaman. Later she had memorable stints drawing Plastic Man and The Super Friends. Her clean style is as ageless as the lady herself.

Terry Beatty handles much of the inking in the book. Terry’s a veteran inker who’s best known as the artist on the long-running comic book, “Ms. Tree,” which was written by Max Allan Collins and as the inker on many of the Batman “animated” books. Beatty is currently working with Collins on the sequel to “The Road To Perdition.” Terry does a great job of enhancing the pencils without overwhelming the penciller’s style.

Other artists who contribute to Unemployed Man are Mike Netzer, Rick Veitch, Joe Rubenstein and Tom Yeates, all of whom have created impressive work in comics in the past.

“The Adventures Of Unemployed Man” is a fun read, but it’s not fluff. It’s presented in a manner that makes it perfect for fans of classic superhero comics, but it’s also got an appeal that reaches beyond that, due to the subject matter. It’s great fun, and food for thought. You can’t beat that combination.

“The Adventures Of Unemployed Man” can be found at Amazon and most major book chains, and you can order it from Taylor Books (you could have just purchased it there, but I grabbed the last copy). ISBN: 978-0316-09882-3