Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Andi Ewington
Artist: Simon Coleby
Colorist: Len O’Grady
Release Date: 9th August 2017
Just a week after we saw the relaunch of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston’s Fighting Fantasy gamebooks courtesy of the fine folks at Scholastic UK, the Titan comicbook series based on the classic Freeway Fighter book reaches its tense, action-packed conclusion.
De La Rosa and Ryan are closing in on New Hope, praying for some respite from the unforgiving post-apocalyptic wasteland and the band of depraved petrol-heads who are still hot on their heels. Unfortunately, a somewhat questionable decision by De La Rosa (who really should have kept her finger in the page before moving on) ensures that the final leg of the journey becomes a frantic, time-sensitive affair.
Once again, Simon Coleby and Len O’Grady do the heavy lifting with their artwork, packing the pages with post-apocalyptic vehicle-based insanity and a some unapologetically in-your-face panels. Explosions, muscle cars and plenty of dynamic close-ups make this a truly energetic read, to the point where you can almost hear the booming thrash metal soundtrack playing in the background as you turn the pages.
Once again, it’s worth pointing out that the story itself is painfully slight, and without wanting to be unkind, only really seems to be in place to provide the loose framework for Coleby and O’Grady to hang their outstanding artwork on. The characters are straightforward and the plot is simple, although Andi Ewington does deserve some credit for managing to build an impressive level of investment in what happens to our two leads as the clock ticks down here.
The whole thing reaches a reasonably satisfying conclusion, patching into the wider world of Freeway Fighter and providing an affectionate nod to the much-loved source material. It was always going to be difficult to capture the magic of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks in a comic format, where the reader is bumped down from active participant to hapless bystander, but as an experiment in expanding the self-contained story of a FF book into a larger comic book arc, this should be considered a solid success.
Ultimately, Freeway Fighter provides a fun, if slight, post-apocalyptic yarn with some top quality artwork, and the fact that it’s based on some of the most iconic children’s books ever (screw you, Harry Potter) only makes it even more enjoyable. Let’s just hope this opens the floodgates for more comic book adaptations of the Fighting Fantasy back catalogue, as there’s a huge untapped vein of stories just waiting to be poured out onto the page.
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