Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Retro-Review: The Fighting American

The Fighting American, issues 5-7+, 1954, 1955, & 1966. by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby.

In the aftermath of the 1954 anti-comic hearings before the US Senate, EC Comics collapsed, which contributed to the collapse of Leaders, the distributor for Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's The Fighting American. Without distribution and with comics sales collapsing all across the industry, their publisher was forced out of business after publishing 7 issues of the comic. Harvey Comics brought out another issue in 1966 in an attempt to revive the title, but that effort failed. All of these issues, and a single story that would have been in Harvey's issue 2, are included in the Simon & Kirby Superheroeshardcover collection.
The strengths of these stories is the humor that Simon brings to them. It seems that by this point, he and Kirby had decided to make these tales as over-the-top as possible. Every issue contains at least one laugh-out-loud moment, and usually every story does. There are crazy situations and characters for Kirby to draw, including Invisible Irving, the alien shape-shifter Space-Face, and the Martian Gulnik.
The Fighting American and Speedboy become world travelers in these issues, chasing Jiseppi the Jungle Boy in India, fighting over oil in the Middle East, and stopping an evil movie production in Italy.
The last story (unfortunately unpublished) tells a surreal post-modern story in which the artist of the Fighting American comics has been driven crazy, announcing that he is "through getting my kicks on a drawing board! I'll live my own life of adventure ... and I'll beat Fighting American at his own game!" The extent to which this is Kirby's own thoughts about the comic industry (or Simon's) is unknown, but it is a fascinatingly weird tale.
These stories show that by this part of their careers, Simon and Kirby had come into their own as elite comic book professionals.
Source: public library.

Note: Issues 1-4 were discussed here.

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