16th Apr2018

‘Fighting American: The Ties That Bind #2′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Gordon Rennie | Art by Andie Tong | Published by Titan Comics

Fighting_American_2-2_Cover-A

Last issue’s first issue of the book’s second arc was every bit as good as every issue of the first arc, and that’s saying something. The second album is always the most difficult, but Gordon Rennie just kept on doing what he started with, and it’s working a treat. Even the loss of Duke Mighten on art isn’t as great as I thought it would be, as Andie Tong has done a decent job as his replacement. Still a top of the pile book for sure. So by now I’m sure you are all aware that Fighting American and sidekick Speedboy are trapped in the 21st Century, with all their Fifties era values and morals putting them a little at odds with the modern day, although Speedboy is enjoying the, shall we say, freedom that modern women have in the way they look and dress.

The dynamic duo though have hit a snag in their partnership when it turns out that American doesn’t even know the real name of his partner. Speedboy decides to leave, and takes off on his own, probably not his best move. Meanwhile, their old Fifties villain Double-Header, a man indeed possessed of two heads, has become both the head of the FBI and the head of a crime syndicate, and has prepared a two pronged assault on Fighting American. Friendly Agent Rutherford has been banished, and corrupt Agents Carver and Cruikshank assigned. Plus, potentially worse of all, American is seemingly about to find out he has descendants , the Krunckle’s, who are a little on the white supremacist side of the political spectrum.

Which is ironic, as the agent sent to hear them out is Agent Carver, an African-American. Seems they are the real deal. Meanwhile Agent Cruikshank is doing her job by throwing Fighting American into various pitched battles on his own, hoping he’ll get hurt. Badly. He has his hands full with a huge killer robot for a time but manages to dispatch it eventually, discovering it was being controlled by a six year old girl using that stolen tech. Naughty, but nothing selling the newspaper Grit can’t sort out (a little in joke for fans of 60′s and 70′s American comics). Seems putting American in physical danger isn’t working, so time to go to work on the psychological. Remember the fact that Fighting American is actually the mind of Nelson Flagg in the body of brother Johnny Flag. Yep, that.

Clearly Fighting American needs his friends, so where are Speedboy and Agent Rutherford? Agent Rutherford is languishing in the FBI basement, both figuratively and literally. As she tells her moderately interested co-workers, once a high flier her career was derailed when she shot the Papal Nuncio Ambassador in the behind. Don’t ask. Still, Rutherford’s not one to take this things laying down, and decides to do some checking of her own into the Bureau. She had better watch her back though, as her co-workers aren’t quite as harmless as they seem. As for Speedboy, he’s discovered that most 21st century of things, Virtual Reality, happy to escape from reality. Until star reporter Poison Penny finds him.

Not a word I tend to use much with this book, but a more subtle entry this time round from Gordon Rennie. Although the humour was still there, it took second place to some strong plot thread weaving, which is of course necessary as the book evolves and grows. The heroes took more of the spotlight this time, and I loved the little touches. The ‘I Want to Believe’ poster at Rutherford’s desk, the reference to Grit newspaper, using the body swap origin as a new plot device. Dialogue always makes me chuckle too. Andie Tong’s art is great, at times more realistic, at times over-exaggerated, whatever the plot demands, Always great layouts, and always a real feel of action and movement.

This is as good a book as you’ll find being put out anywhere, better than many of the DC and Marvels out there right now. When a writer at the top of his game ‘gets’ the character and concept, great things can happen. This book is certainly proof of that.

****½  4.5/5

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