Publisher: Action Lab – Danger Zone
Writer(s): Corey Kalman, Brockton McKinney
Artist: Devin Roth
Release Date: 1st March 2017
Okay, so imagine Footloose, right? But instead of dancing, it’s karate that has been banned by the inhabitants of a small town. And instead of youthful rebel Kevin Bacon, we have Sam, who is pretty much an amalgam of every 80s action hero you could think of. Oh, and Sam is carrying around his quadriplegic brother Rick with him in a backpack after the poor wee soul lost his arms and legs in a tragic karate accident. Yeah, a karate accident. Well, that’s basically the set up for AmeriKarate, a brand new series from Action Lab Comics on sale this week, and it’s all a hell of a lot of fun, as you might imagine.
Featuring gags aplenty, 80s movie references, cheesy sex scenes and lots and lots of karate, writers Corey Kalman and Brockton McKinney throw a hell of a lot of ideas at the wall during the course of this first issue. Some of these hit the mark spectacularly, while others miss the target completely. It’s a scattershot approach that ultimately pays dividends, and while a lot of the references may sail over the heads of younger readers heads (i.e. those of us not brought up in the 80s), the full-on karate action and visual comedy is still likely to appeal to a fairly broad crowd.
Artist Devin Roth’s lively, energetic work really lifts the title, with an unapologetically in-your-face approach and a colour palette which is about as subtle as the story itself. Roth’s character designs are also fantastic throughout, from Sam and Rick themselves to the slew of supporting characters, including the gruff, no-nonsense Mayor and the giant, tattooed foreigner called Johnny Kobraski who shows up near the end of the issue for a scrap.
Ultimately, AmeriKarate is a book which is under absolutely no delusions about what it really is, and is all the better for it. It’s a broad, crass and gloriously unsubtle love letter to 80s movie excess, and while the jokes don’t necessarily all land, there’s still a lot of fun to be had here in a ‘switch off your brain for a few minutes and enjoy the madness’ kind of way.
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