This is one of those memorable reprint volumes that I bring out to read every decade or so.
Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had no real probably adapting to changing times, and more importantly, to changing marketplaces. When super-heroes took a nose dive in the comic book game, they single-handedly created the romance comic genre, and revitalized and popularized war and western comics to boot.
When the threat of Communism raised it’s head during the McCarthy Era, Joe and Jack responded with the short-lived but well-remembered Fighting American. He was basically a shieldless Captain America, right down to the Bucky-like sidekick, Speedboy.
What took this comic from jingoism to surreal masterpiece was the bizarre villainy that the guys had F.A. face off against, such as Double-Header (a gangster with two heads), Super Khakalovich (a super-hero whose powers came from being unwashed and stinky), the rotund Round Robin and, of course, the secret of Yafata’s Mustache.
Joe and Jack loved their country, but this book makes me wonder if they, like many of the artistic and intellectuals targeted by McCarthy’s career-ending tirades, knew a lot of it was just a smokescreen to get a senator from Wisconsin popularity points.
This hardcover, long out-of-print, reprints the original six issues of Fighting American, as well as the one issue that Harvey Comics published amidst their failed attempt to create a super-hero/adventure line in the mid-sixties. That final issue isn’t all Joe & Jack; I haven’t checked, but at least one story seems to feature art by George Tuska. So it’s all good.
This is a fun read for any comic fan, and especially for the Joe Simon and Jack Kirby aficionados.