The Fighting American was a Captain America-esque comic that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created in 1954. Well, I say that it’s Captain America-esque, but, in reality, there were plenty of patriotic costumed heroes in that era. However, this one was unique in that Simon and Kirby created this in direct response to Timely, now Marvel, using Captain America without them.
Anyway, the original adventures were sort of a self-parody while taking jabs at McCarthyism, which some people seem to forget was wrong. McCarthyism borders on fascism in the same way that the Red Skull is just a bit like Hitler (Godwin’s Law doesn’t apply when Nazism is making a comeback).
Anyway, it was short-lived in its original run, but it had short revivals over the years since then, one of which was ironically brought about by Marvel.
This comic picks up with the Fighting American and his sidekick, Speedboy, arriving in the present, courtesy of a Professor Twister, while pursuing a communist villain called Poison Ivan. They all arrive in 2017.
This comic is tapping into its parody roots — I think. I’m not entirely sure where this thing is taking itself. It’s a bizarre mixture of forced sincerity and cynicism.
Fighting American is an ultra-conservative and moralizing ass. Speedboy is a horny teenager. The communist villains say things like “Sacred Lenin’s tomb.” Professor Twister is a bit of an ass too, so much so that his apprentice probably becomes a supervillain by the end.
It replicates a lot of the fish-out-of-water elements of Captain America’s first arrival in the ever-forward-moving present/”few years ago” of the Marvel mythos.
So, where does that leave Fighting American? It’s self-parody vaguely aimed at Captain America. But Captain America, with the exception of the ’50s run and the wrongheaded Secret Empire, is way more flexible and liberal than this. It could be a parody of old-fashioned comics, but those jokes have grown so old thanks to the likes of Deadpool and Harley Quinn.
Unfortunately, it leaves Fighting American feeling unremarkable. It’s trying to keep the spirit of the original alive, but the original run’s parody motif has mostly been lost to time and leaves this one feeling like a bitter jab at the creators if you don’t know the context. Hell, I had to look up the history of this character, and I generally go for flag-wearing superheroes.
Anyone who is looking for a light ribbing at ultra-patriotic comics aren’t probably looking to find it in Simon and Kirby revivals. Those who are looking for Simon and Kirby revivals aren’t likely looking for light ribbings at older ultra-patriotic comic books. This is kind of a book with no intended audience.
The art doesn’t help either, with a sorta-Kirby-esque look that ends up being ugly by adding too much texture. Some of these characters just look a bit grotesque.
Unfortunately, Fighting American is dead on arrival by not gauging an audience. It’s for no one, and it feels like a waste of a Simon and Kirby property. Some of the jokes sort of click, but not nearly enough do so for the run time of the comic. I can’t recommend this one. Give it a pass.
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