Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fighting Yank #1

(This review was originally published at Comic Book Galaxy and was later printed in the back pages of Fighting Yank #2. It is posted here for safekeeping)

Written and drawn by Eric Coile/Jerry Robinson & Mort Meskin
Published by AC Comics

Captain America Fighting Yank and Bucky Kid Quick team up with a host of other gaudily-garbed, commie-crushing super-studs (along with one voluptuous boxing beauty) in the first issue of AC Comics' new retro romp; Fighting Yank.

After months of searching for the kidnapped Professor Nodel and his lovely daughter Carrie, Fighting Yank and Kid Quick believe they've finally uncovered the lair of The Panda: Communist China's meanest super-villain and chief suspect in the disappearance of the Nodels. But, after a quick slugfest, Yank and the Kid find out the Panda and his goons are nothing but robots. Battered into unconsciousness by Sputnik the Super-Ape and subsequently forced to nose-dive out of an airplane, Yank and the Kid are rescued by the scantily-clad Yankee Girl (whose cleavage is reportedly an issue of national security). The three Marxist-manglers find themselves on an old Nazi battleship which turns out to be the base of operations for the true commie culprit; The Gremlin! The Red Square! The pint-sized bolshevik has plans to detonate an H-bomb in order to rouse world anger against the red-white-and-blue. The trio of heroes won't stand for that, of course, and they aren't alone. It isn't long before the likes of Captain Flash, the RedDevil, The Avenger, and even Squeeks the Monkey join the fray in the name of Truth, Justice, and all of that other non-commie stuff.

The issue also features a reprint of "The Return of Fingers;" a golden-age Fighting Yank reprint in which a reformed bank robber is forced back into the seedy underworld of crime.

With Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Comic Magazine just finishing its run and Ultiman Giant-Size Annual #1 being released this month by Image and Big Bang Comics, it's understandable that some readers may have had their fill of all things retro. But to lump Fighting Yank in with all the rest is a mistake.

Unlike the inconsistent art many critics pointed out in Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Comic Magazine, Fighting Yank has one great Kirby impersonator; Eric Coile (or "Hard-Boiled Hack Koilby" if you go by the credits in the beginning of the mag). Coile's art is wonderfully simplistic and action-oriented and won't have readers wondering why the characters look different every few pages.

The humor of Fighting Yank is also much less tongue-in-check than other recent mainstream and indy retro books. You'll actually laugh at classic lines like, "Who would've thought Ivan and Boris were actually commie spies," or when Fighting Yank explains why communist scum must be lanced like a boil, "So that their putrid puss of evil is ejected into the blackest reaches of outer space!" That's right, you actually get to laugh, rather than just cerebrally appreciating the irony. Hey, there's nothing wrong with exercising that brain cavity, but it's nice to belt out a few stomach-wrenching guffaws every now and then, isn't it?

Perhaps the most unique thing about Fighting Yank is that it isn't just a tribute/pardoy to Kirby or a comment about the state of comics. Fighting Yank is a genuine slice of Americana. When we laugh at this story, we laugh at ourselves, because it wasn't too long ago that the "commie-crushing" quest of these heroes wouldn't have seemed very funny at all. At a time when Americans are understandably angry at and frightened of a foreign menace, and has found it once again necessary to unleash its armies overseas—whether or not we're doing the right thing—it isn't a horrible idea to have a comic like this that reminds us how ridiculous we can be when the rhetoric gets a little too fiery and our anger clouds our common sense.

This reviewer will be adding Fighting Yank to his monthly buy list and you should too. Unless of course, you're a commie bastard.

--Mick Martin

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