10th Oct2017

‘Fighting American #1′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Gordon Rennie | Art by Duke Mighten | Published by Titan Comics

fighting-american-1-titan-cover

Well this certainly caught my eye, and probably sits in the category of characters I never thought in a million years Titan Comics would get a crack at. Not that there’s anything wrong with Fighting American, far from it, it has a fine pedigree. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, legends both, this character was both inspired by their previous creation Captain America, and also a little pop at it, or rather at Marvel Comics. In 1954 Marvel had relaunched Captain America as a commie basher, without Simon and Kirby’s involvement, and Fighting American was their reply. While the book started as a serious one, the humour became a little more pronounced, the villains almost a Dick Tracy level of bizarreness, and fun was had by all.

Various companies have had a crack at the character, including DC Comics and Awesome, but never quite captured the magic that came with the original run. This relaunch then, needs to be good. So who is Fighting American? He is, bizarrely two brothers in one body. When crusading journalist Johnny Flagg was murdered, the government transplanted Nelson Flagg’s brain into his newly enhanced and strengthened body. A bit weird but hey, it was the 1950′s. Along the way he was joined by obligatory kid sidekick Speedboy

We open in the future, well, their future our present, as Fighting American, Speedboy and time traveller/ inventor Professor Dyle Twister arrive in New York on the trail of Soviet super genius Poison Ivan. Poison Ivan has somehow made an alliance with someone from the future and our intrepid heroes have come to stop him. This of course, is where the humour and drama come from, the whole man out of time’ thing, the difference in values and morals and values between the 1950′s and now. The first, and certainly not the last, of many imitations of Captain America himself of course. The duo have three days to complete their mission, so stop staring at those women’s legs Speedboy and get a move on.

After Poison Ivan escapes, helped by a mysterious old costumed lady, who seems to know them though they don’t know her, the duo quickly discover the modern world is a little….different. Old hideouts have gone, connections with authority lost. In fact, they are simply mistaken for cosplayers and have to sleep rough for the night. In the rain. Still, the Professor promised to leave them helpful gadgets in a strong box at the bank, that’ll help sort all this out and get them home, right? Actually, no. The box actually contains a series of photos taken by someone called Chaos Lad, said photos showing the murder of Professor Twister. That would be the only man who can get them back to the past. Boo.

This was an excellent first issue, and great fun. Gordon Rennie does a fantastic job with the characters, the humour, and especially the dialogue. He essentially takes Captain America and Bucky, gives Fighting American Cap’s old time preachy dialogue, gives Speedboy the dialogue style of Robin from the Batman 60′s TV show, and the whole thing is a riot. Poison Ivan could not be a more cliché 50′s Russian Communist if he tried, but then that’s the whole point. Rennie exaggerates the past and present to make the point, but it works brilliantly well. There’s even a little bit of The Tick in there with the deadpan nature of it all.

The art, by Duke Mighten, is the perfect accompaniment to the story. Very retro in style, very clean and simple lines, but very dynamic and great layouts. The style reminded me a little of Frank Quitely, and I liked it a lot. Perfect fit for this book. The colouring, by Tracy Bailey, was also excellent, nice bright colours helping emphasize the costumes especially.

Well above expectations, and definitely the best take on Fighting American since Simon and Kirby themselves. If you love fun in your comics, you’ll love this.

****½  4.5/5

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