American Flagg! Volume 1 | Review


Published on Dec 22, 2017


In the eighties, the so-called American Renaissance of comics was an important moment in the history of comics american, because of the innovations in expressive, narrative and graphic introduced by various authors. It was in that extraordinary period of creativity, in fact, that emerged talents of the likes of Frank Miller, Chris Claremont, Bill Sienkiewicz, Alan Moore and others that svecchiarono the books from publishers such as Marvel and DC.

But a crucial role was also played by the independent labels that had the merit of making known and emerging authors and to give space to other already established, which had, however, the possibility to propose works that differed from those of the major. Among them, one can not overlook Howard Chaykin, known for Black Kiss, the Shadow, and other jewelry. In fact, he had started his career drawing for Marvel and other publishers but was with the American Flagg! reached its success.

The series was originally published from the First and now reprinted from the Dynamite. And keep an eye on both the quality of the texts both for the high level of the designs. We could call it science fiction since it is set in the Chicago of 2031, in a context that seems to be borrowed from films such as Rollerball and Blade Runner, and some of the novels of John Brunner, and Philip K. Dick; but there are also elements of the then-nascent cyberpunk. The stories, moreover, are not without charm noir and spy story, with a pinch of irony, if not of the acrid sarcasm (typical of Chaykin).

The world he described is dominated by technology, advertising, obsessive, control invasive on the part of the authorities and by the multinational companies that impose themselves on everything, transforming even human beings in the products of the market. And’ here that acts the protagonist, Reuben Flagg. He obtained fame and success, playing a scripted but the producers decided to replace it with a hologram. Reuben, then, finds itself having to the sheriff, interacting with a higher-than-nice and other bizarre character (among them, there is Raul, a talking cat).

As he will discover to his cost Reuben, the corruption is rampant and the situations that we face are nothing short of dangerous. There are street gangs that combine trouble, the criminals of every type, people ruthless, ready to do anything to achieve their goals; as well as threats, for example that represented by lethal subliminal messages that manipulate the masses, with results that are devastating. As the narration proceeds, the Reuben will remain involved in an incredible series of intrigues and plots, and it is not said that will be able to get by.

Another essential element of American Flagg! it is symbolized by the feminine universe. The women of Chaykin are all sexy, aggressive (not to say, of easy virtue) and treacherous. The author tip-consciously on the sexism and male chauvinism, with the aim of provocative and irreverent tone. Although the stories lack dramatic situations, the use of sarcasm (which seems to almost anticipate by several years the attitude of Quentin Tarantino) is the master. Chaykin pokes fun at everything and everyone: jews, transsexuals, blacks, writing texts and dialogues over the top.

American Flagg! it is valuable also for the designs. In this sense, the series is one of the best works of the author. The characters reveal the influences of Gil Kane, processed in key personnel. What is most striking is the setting of the tables. Many cartoons are set between them. There are some large, that include within them other smaller ones. The edges of the pages are crammed full of phrases from the typefaces huge, by the shrieks and slogans of advertising, from textbooks that explain or comment on what the player is looking at; not to mention the onomatopoeia that often take precedence over the figures (a technique similar to the one used with intentions that are different from the Walt Simonson).

Despite the diversity of style, Chaykin at times makes you think of the Jim Steranko Nick Fury Agent of The SHIELD, and many of the tables are stunning examples of pop art. In Short, American Flagg! it is a read not to be missed that can not miss in the library of a lover of american comic books. Those who know him already know what I'm talking about. Those who do not yet know will have an incredible surprise. He has done so well Editorial Cosmo to publish this milestone of comics.

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