Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Recently Read: Fighting American, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

This Titan edition of the complete Simon and Kirby (minus one lost page) is entertaining, but bogs down in the end with its repetitive plots - especially the entries not written or drawn by Jack Kirby. It doesn't help that the two protagonists, Fighting American and Speedboy, and their alter egos, are stock, uninteresting characters. It's in the crazy villains that Kirby puts his energy and interests, and the series almost immediately becomes farcical.

It's a mid-'50s product steeped in cold war ideology. Commies are the main threat FA fights and, according to Kirby, they're best described by their uncouth behavior: they pick at their teeth and ears, smell, and dress shabbily. The best short in the book may be "Stranger From Paradise", about a boy behind the Iron Curtain who writes to Speedboy for help. Room is also made for an intergalactic sci-fi story and parodies of The Jungle Book and Hollywood. The origin story's tone is far more serious than the rest of the series and uses the same "weakling turned strong through government technology" idea used earlier in Captain America and later in OMAC.

The art restoration and coloring is by Harry Mendryk; many of the dark colors printed too dark, drowning out art detail. Otherwise, the book is printed on non-glossy stock and is perfectly readable. The collection also contains three stories planned for Harvey Comics' mid-'60s FA relaunch, but were never printed until now.
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