Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Gordon Rennie
Artists: Duke Mighten, Tracy Bailey, Simon Bowland
Release Date: 8th November 2017
I saw a meme while I was scrolling through Facebook a few years back about what it would actually be like if Captain American was resurrected in the modern day. He’d be walking down the street and see something like a woman in a shirt skirt or two blokes holding hands and more than likely flip out
One of the problems with looking back to that Golden Age of comics and Nazi punching is that we forget about just how backwards thinking the world was in the ‘good ol’ days’. And it’s this contradiction which serves as the core in-joke of Fighting American – what happens when you take a superhero filled with post-WW2 ideologies of the Cold War and bring him to the modern world of the culturally and ideologically fluid?
Well let’s start with the elephant in the room – this is a pretty obvious poke at Marvel’s Captain America. Yet at the same time, it’s done in a thoroughly polite and jokey fashion. The ridiculously patriotic Nelson Flagg takes control of his reporter brother’s body, is pumped up with something similar to super serum, and adopts the identity of “Fighting American”. He then finds himself tasked by the America government to fight Hydra Nazis – errr, sorry, I mean Communist Soviets – in 1950s America.
It was during one of these adventures that he and his Bucky-esque sidekick Speed Boy chased the dreaded Poison Ivan forward in time with the help of genius professor Dylan Twister. When we last left our heroes, the so-called instructions left to help them turned out to be evidence of the professor’s demise at the hands of a new villain, Kid Chaos.
The last issue was exactly what you’d expect from this kind of parody. Feeling a bit like Back to the Future in reverse with the two overly patriotic heroes in modern-day America, completely dumbfounded by the state of the world – a world which is just as amazed at the costumed freak” chasing Russians through their city centre.
Gordon Rennie writes some downright hilarious quips from Fighting American himself, like tackling the perils of Jive talk or mentioning how the lady FBC agent (a beautiful nod to Agent Scully) will do just fine until a man shows up. What I like is that we get to see the side of these type of classic heroes which we’ve never seen before (or have seen, but have chosen to ignore).
Case in point: the teenage sidekick. When running through Times Square, of course he’s going to stop and stare at the billboard of the naked woman. Or how the outdated notion of the American Way that the heroes hold so dear has been outdated for decades, (especially nowadays, given who runs the show.) There’s too many great jokes and nods to take note of here but look out for the cosplay comments to know exactly what it’s like travelling to a con via public transport.
Rennie has taken the character created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and created a tale of superhero contrast, elevated even higher by the brilliant art work of Duke Mighten. It’s hard to explain exactly how Duke does it, but he emphasises that contrast in a very blended fashion, and while the differences in design between the characters of the past and present are significant, they still manage to sit naturally together.
This feat is even more impressive given the use of ‘propaganda proportions’. In an age where political correctness simply didn’t exist, it was common for comics to portray characters with exaggerated features to help suit political needs. The Japanese had the overly slanted eyes and big teeth, the Germans the hunched over back and gargoyle-like features, whereas, obviously, the Americans had the eight-pack physique and angular jaws of true humans. This is exactly what Duke has done here, and done to great effect.
I got distinct vibes of Kick-Ass whilst reading, but Fighting American definitely cements its own place in the world of comic book satire. A great read, and well worth picking up for fans of the classic era of comics.
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The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
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