14th Mar2018

‘Fighting American: The Ties That Bind #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

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


The breakout hit of last year is back, still basking in the well deserved adulation of being first a cult hit, and then a bit more of a mainstream success. Gordon Rennie did what almost all other Fighting American writers have been unable to do, channel the absurdity that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby intended, but within an actual narrative that works as believable, at least in the comic book sense. Fighting American and Speedboy really did seem like two guys deposited smack dab in 2017 from the Fifties, with all the accompanying prejudices and hang-ups. But, as they say, that was then and this is now. Can Gordon Rennie make lightning strike twice with this second arc?

So, the last arc ended with gender bending villain Chaos Lad/Madame Chaos defeated and behind bars, which is good, but all the advanced tech and gadgets designed by Professor Twister now in criminal hands, which is bad. Very bad. Still, the FBI has Fighting American’s back, right? Well, sort of. Agent Rutherford is firmly in their camp, but the head of the FBI, not so much. Why? Turns out he’s Fifties villain Double Header, one of those villains sent forwards in time by Chaos Lad. This is going to get interesting. But first, zombies! First item of the day is to recapture the zombification ray weapon currently being wielded by Matt, aka Captain Zombiemaster. Yep, he’s as lame as he sounds, but American and Speedboy still have to fight their way through dozens of zombies to get him.

Rennie wastes no time in wading straight into high camp and nostalgia, with great retro dialogue, stern warnings from American to Speedboy about minding his language, and a little in joke about not needing a shield, like another certain star spangled Simon & Kirby creation. Matt obviously doesn’t take too long to take down, so shame he also bought a job lot of Transformo Pills from Madame Chaos, which transform him into a slavering monster. Still, he ends up being a lot easier to deal with than Speedboy, when he discovers American doesn’t even know his real name. Heh.

Threats aren’t always so obvious though, and Double Header has decided to play the long game. He assigns two extremely shady agents, Carver and Cruikshank to take over Project Fighting American, and kicks Agent Rutherford out. Their role? To mess with Fighting American, as much as possible. Meanwhile, back at the Liberty Lair (pat on the back for Rennie for letting me write that), Speedboy has gone awol. What can go wrong, a Fifties juvenile loose in the big city? As if all that wasn’t bad enough for Fighting American to deal with, something else has also started developing. Two very thinly veiled right wing Trump supporters, gun nuts and Liberty Tree (cough Fox News Cough) TV watchers, have noticed a big similarity between American and their Nan’s old boyfriend from the Fifties. Make America Feared Again, indeed.

Yep, that’ll do. Gordon Rennie has not only continued right where he left off, at the top of his game, but actually even made improvements. The great tongue in cheek dialogue is still there, the comedy, but things and characters have evolved slightly. This is not just a one joke book, which is what a lazy writer would do with it, but one packed with visual gags, sly humour in the dialogue, and using the past to poke fun at the present, even make a little comment or two. It’s brilliantly done. Andie Tong had a tough ask, coming in and replacing Duke Mighten on art duties, superb as he was. Well, Andie has done a brilliant job. The book has exactly the same ‘feel’, with mostly excellently laid out panels and pacing. My one quibble is that Tong always tries to pack in a little too much, sometimes with overly crowded pages. Let’s lose that, and it’d be perfect.

So, a great fighting return for the Fighting American we can support. This should be top of everyone’s pull list.

***** 5/5


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