Fighting American Vol 1: Brave New World – Review
I held off on reviewing Titan Comics’ Fighting American when it first came out. However, now with the collection coming out and a follow-up mini-series on the way, it seemed like an opportunity to give the entire story another chance. What I didn’t realize was that in my reading of this latest interpretation of a Jack Kirby creation, I would see a validation of something that had been brewing in my head for some time.
Writer: Gordon Rennie
Artists: Duke Mighten and PC De La Fuente
Colorist: Tracey Bailey
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Terry and Rachael Dodson
Trade Paperback, 112pp, $16.99
On sale: April 17, 2018
The fantastic return of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s legendary two-fisted superhero, originally created back in 1954!
Fighting American, the ultimate icon of truth, justice and the American Way, and his young teenage sidekick, Speedboy, have found themselves marooned in the 21st Century whilst on the trail of a gang of villains plucked from their past by a mysterious villainess known only as Lady Chaos… Now, there’s nothing left for them to do but to bring some much-needed two-fisted justice and home-spun 1950s grit to a modern, media-obsessed, cynical world.
This critically-acclaimed, all-new adventure, written by Gordon Rennie (Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper and Missionary Man) and drawn by Duke Mighten (Batman: The Book of Shadows, Accident Man and Doom Force) and PC De La Fuente (Robin, Batgirl), sees the rebirth of a true AMERICAN HERO!
Initially I had a feeling that this would be a tongue in cheek interpretation of the character, but at the same time, I really had no reverence for the character. I’ve known about him, but not read any version of the character, including the original. Also, there seemed to be an inherent farcical nature to Fighting American being published by a British comic book company. However, never let it be said that I judged a story before giving it a chance.
The book is a bit tongue in cheek, but in dealing with overly patriotic characters from the 1950s, when blind patriotism was akin to joining a witchhunt, one can’t help but embrace the overall silly nature of the story. I think treating these characters too seriously runs with a risk of being pretentious. The villain is responding to a world that is flawed and has both sides not seeing the weakness of their ideals. Thinking forward, they guide Fighting American’s villains into succeeding in destroying everything their enemy holds dear by abandoning everything that they hold dear. It’s also interesting to see a villain use time travel in a way that makes sense. There’s no effort being made to change the past or the future, just to be in place when it comes to be on top.
There are also LGBTQ elements in the story that I cannot go into too much detail about without spoiling the story. However, they are not too much of a focus of the story or its characters, which is refreshing. I look forward to Fighting American and Speedboy dealing with these issues in the second series, which I will read, but I don’t have it on my front burner.
The artwork retains the dynamism that Kirby was known for, but retains its own flavor. It’s not generally the style that I prefer, but has elements that I can like. It does resort to eye-level, medium perspective shots a bit too often for my taste, but it serves the purpose and focuses attention when it is needed. There are also panels that are awesome, such as the shot of Fighting American and Speedboy lit by the streetlamp in the fourth page of the preview above. There are shots like that peppered throughout the book and they instantly draw me back into the story.
Overall, Fighting American is a good comic, but I’ve said it before, a good comic is just average nowadays. I don’t find that to be a bad thing, especially since there have been comics from decades past that I have passed aside for Reviews of Old Comics because they’re just average in their quality. Fighting American is better than average comics of the past, but in today’s current market, it’s on par with the majority of stuff being put out.
So why review it? Marvel and DC are putting out dozens of comics that are just average, and publishers like Titan are producing similar quality, but have much more to lose. I say, if you’re going to spend your money on an average comic, why not strengthen the market with those dollars? Smaller publishers are producing good stuff. I’m also certain that Fighting American is up the alley for some of you out there, and your opinion of it might be much higher than my own. Go into every comic with a fresh eye, and you’ll invariably find something to latch onto. Remember that panel I mentioned above? That’s the gem for me in this book, panels like that. Agent Rutherford on the phone with her spouse is also wonderful. Of course, I’m assuming it’s her spouse, but it could be a boyfriend or girlfriend, because their gender is never revealed.
All that being said, you can do much worse than give Fighting American a shot. Perhaps when this collection comes out in April, you could forego a few issues of Batman, and pick this up. After all, DC won’t miss the seventeen dollars as much as Titan Comics will appreciate it.