by Robert Greenberger
When America needed a hero, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were happy to oblige, creating Captain America for Timely Comics in 1941, just before the country entered World War II. He was the role model drafted boys could look up to.
When America was seemingly going off the rails during the Red Scare a decade later, the team responded with yet another patriotic hero. But this time, the Fighting American seemed to be the straight man in a world gone slightly mad. For seven daffy issues, the 1954 feature originally ran under the Crestwood Publication/Prize Comics imprint but lived on in the 1960s thanks to a reprint from Harvey Comics. The legendary tales resurfaced in a handsome collection from Marvel Comics in 1989. Along with his sidekick Speedboy, the hero took on physically deformed Communists such as Round Robin and Poison Ivan, spies, and crooked politicians. Everything seemed just a tad over the top as Simon & Kirby were clearly having some fun with the superhero formula as well as the straight-laced mood of the era.
Mark Evanier wrote, “Of all the fifties’ Simon-Kirby creations, Jack enjoyed none more than Fighting American. At arms’ length, it looked like Joe and Jack imitating themselves with an unabashed Captain America knockoff. Up close and personal, it was the two of them having enormous fun, hoping readers would find it infectious.”
Ignore the well-intentioned but flawed revivals by DC Comics and Awesome Entertainment and check out the original material in a brand new volume of Fighting American from Titan Books.
According to project editor Steve Saffel, “It will contain some things that weren’t in the Marvel edition, including unused covers and the story The Mad Inker.” In fact, that story is being reprinted for the first time ever and is being reproduced from the original artwork, still in Simon’s possession.
“All of the stories will be restored from the original comic book appearances, to more closely represent the experience of the original issues back in the 1950s,” Saffel confirmed. “Thus, this will be the most complete edition of Fighting American ever published, with every story ever done, and will be done with the full cooperation of Joe Simon and the Kirby Estate. In general, the goal is to have the material represent the experience you would have had when the stories originally appeared. We use matte paper which is more like newsprint, but unlike other publishers, we choose a solid stock that entirely supports the ink coverage and the bright colors.
“The restorations are more than simple scans. Harry Mendryk identifies the colors as they originally were meant to appear, and restores the pages to the most perfect representation possible of that original material. So while the colors and reproduction remain true, flaws such as color bleed are removed.”