While I never played any of the legendary Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks created by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson in 1982, I remember Freeway Fighter being somewhere on the shelves of one of the comic/game shops I worked at during my teens and early 20s. My introduction to Livingstone and Jackson’s worldbuilding with Games Workshop and its numerous games, but Freeway Fighter stood out during its release by deviating from the usual mix of orcs, goblins and cave-trolls. The series went on to sell over 18 million copies worldwide and is translated in over 30 languages.
35 years later, we’re getting another chance to drive in that classic setting with a new comic series being released May 17, 2017, written by Andi Ewington and Livingstone, with art by Simon Coleby and Len O’Grady and publishing by Titan Comics.
Former I-400 Driver Bella De La Rosa is one of the 15% – living every day as if it were her last. Now, eighteen months after the collapse of civilization, faced with a new world order where violence and chaos rule the Freeway, she must hone her racing skills and survive any way she can!
The first issue is all set up introducing us to De La Rosa and then jumping ahead post collapse as she drives to survive. It’s a solid start in world building allowing readers to slowly learn about the world they’re thrust in to slowly teasing out just enough to get us to come back more. Ewington and Livingstone together have put together a first issue that feels familiar, but still very entertaining. Normally this world setting is fueled by macho male leads with women acting in a subserviant role. Their choice of Bella De La Rosa as the hero around which this series rotates is brilliant in that it adds in the excellent story choice made in Mad Max: Fury Road one that flipped the formula in some ways. The two writers give us a nod and wink of what we can expect by doing so and fills in a gap that so far no one has really picked up on, the gear head apocalypse story with some girl power acting as nitrous boost. That simple decision is one of many that makes the series stand out.
Coleby and O’Grady on art deliver a visually solid story with enough detail for us to sus out what might have happened in the months since collapse. Materials laying about, the design of vehicles, clothes being worn, those visuals all help tell the story and fill in gaps that haven’t been spelled out yet.
Freeway Fighter #1 feels like the start of a badass story that takes the original roleplaying game and infuses it with other elements that have been added to the genre since. Strap in for an entertaining ride.
Story: Andi Ewington and Ian Livingstone Art: Simon Coleby and Len O’Grady
Story: 8.45 Art: 8.45 Overall: 8.45 Recommendation: Buy
Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review