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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Check Out the American Way.....

Cool Comic Alert! Cool Comic Alert! I wanted to let you guys in on a trade paperback that I just picked up that was originally released as an eight-part series written by John Ridley, entitled The American Way. If Ridley seems familiar, it might be due in part to his December 06' Esquire article, The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger which caused quite a stir in the Black (and general) blogosphere. American Way takes place during the tumultuous 60s with the question of race and racial politics looming in the background. Here's Wikipedia's synopsis of Ridley's Way:

The first issue introduces the Civil Defense Corps, a team of superheroes, and their handlers the FDAA (Federal Disaster Assistance Administration). The FDAA stages showdowns between "superheroes" and "supervillains", who are in reality little more than superpowered actors that front for the public. The FDAA is put on the spot when Old Glory, a hero representing the epitome of American ideals, dies of a heart attack during a staged superhero battle.[1]

The New American is introduced in the next issue. Offered as Old Glory's replacement, the New American is secretly an African American man named Jason Fisher. Jason was selected by the FDAA to undergo gene therapy treatments that gave him superstrength and invulnerability, but with a built in weakness: Jason had the pain receptors of a normal human, so that if he was subjected to enough pain he would die even if his skin remained unbroken. The New American is outfitted in a helmet and a pseudo Astronaut's uniform, because 1962 America was depicted in the series as not ready for a minority superhero.[2]

The New American is accidentally "unmasked" at the end of the third issue, while battling a crazed Wanderer.[3]

In the fourth issue the FDAA unleash Hellbent, a homicidal and sociopathic supervillain, to draw attention away from the racial strife caused by The New American's unmasking. The team is split in half along racial views with the southern heroes leaving in disgust. Most of the rest go to confront Hellbent, who has slaughtered a busload of people on their way to a civil rights rally. They fail miserably, with CDC members Freya being decapitated, Pharos wounded, and The Secret Agent losing a hand. The New American's brother was among the wounded survivors.

For those who are interested in a truly engaging read that encompasses Cold War politics, race and (super)heroism-The American Way is the graphic novel for the job.

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