July 5, 2009

,   |  

The American

Written by Mark Verheiden
Illustrated by Chris Warner, Grant Miehm, and Doug Braithwaite
Dark Horse

A Dark Horse series born out of the nadir of liberal politics in the late 1980s, the story bears its politics on its sleeve: Anything Republican or army is evil, and there are no heroes anymore. Done well, this is called Hellblazer. Done with a ham fist, this is called the American.

A reporter discovers that maybe the Captain America clone "The American" has a dark secret and starts to investigate, but it costs him the life of his girlfriend and leads him spiraling back into the bottle whole he tries to make sense of it all. Joined by a rogue agent of the US Government and the forgotten "Kid America" sidekick, he tries to get at the truth but finds that not only is it elusive, but will Americans even give a shit once they're told?

This book has its moments--I like the concept, though I'd have eased off on the borrowing from the history of the Star Spangled Avenger (The American's arch-enemy is "Bones" for God's sake)--and the writing is well done, all the way through some one shots and a very cynical take on finding yourself in modern America.

There are even some neat jokes thrown in here and there, especially about the movies (Verheiden is a screen writer). But I just can't buy the world view, and since there isn't enough else going on (none of the characters make me want to care or desire to follow them, except perhaps the great cameo appearance I won't spoil here), I kept returning to the idea of America as an empty, evil Empire and finding it lacking as something to pin a whole graphic novel on. Maybe that will work better for someone else. *shrug*