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Review: The American Way: Those Above and Those Below

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got the return of The American Way!

The American Way: Those Above and Those Below collects issues #1-6 by John Ridley, Georges Jeanty, John Livesay, Danny Miki, Paul Neary, Le Beau Underwood, Nick Filardi, and Travis Lanham.

Get your copy in comic shops today and in book stores April 24. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Preview: American Way: Those Above and Below #4

American Way: Those Above and Below #4

(W) John Ridley (A/CA) Georges Jeanty
In Shops: Nov 15, 2017
SRP: $3.99

Civil unrest intensifies following the radical anti-establishment violence and the attempted assassination of Missy Devereaux. Jason is pushed to balance his allegiances and assess his priorities as he tracks Missy’s superhuman assailant and federal authorities hone in on Amber’s cell. Radically unafraid of the looming threat, Amber’s commitment to the cause inches closer to a death wish-and a devastating betrayal may grant it.

Preview: The American Way: Those Above and Below #3 (of 6)

The American Way: Those Above and Below #3

(W) John Ridley (A/CA) Georges Jeanty
In Shops: Sep 27, 2017
SRP: $3.99

Things are heating up for the surviving heroes of the Civil Defense Corps. Jason’s actions against Black Power groups have gotten him noticed by the dark side of the government agencies that once controlled the superhero program. Meanwhile, Amber Waves’ acts of domestic terrorism are bringing the police close to her door! Continuing the new miniseries by acclaimed author John Ridley, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave and creator of American Crime, and artist Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors are choosing up to five books and why they’re choosing the books. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Alex

Top Pick: X-O Manowar #7 (Valiant) – I’ve literally just finished reading this for Graphic Policy’s review, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the physical copy from my LCS. That art is stoningly good!

Faith And The Future Force #3 (Valiant) – Time travel, humour and stubborn determination. Can Faith and the Future Force save the timestream? I hope not, because I don’t want this series to end!

War Mother #2 (Valiant) – It’s a Valiant book. Of course I’m looking forward to it.

 

Brett

Top Pick: Secret Coders Vol. 4 Robots & Repeats (First Second) – Always fantastic, this graphic novel series entertains and educates in how to code. The first three volumes have explained things well and taught me a ton. Add in a cute story and fun art and you’ve got the perfect combination of education and entertainment.

The American Way: Those Above and Below #3 (Vertigo/DC Comics) – Don’t think politics and entertainment go together? Read this series. Entertaining and thought provoking each series explores race relations, politics, and more. Most importantly, it entertains with each issue.

First Strike #4 (IDW Publishing) – Did you ever take your G.I. Joe and Transformers and have them battle it out when you were a kid? This even, is that and then some.

Marvel Legacy #1 (Marvel) – Kicking off the next phase of Marvel comics. We’re all intrigued as to what it will all mean.

Southern Bastards #18 (Image Comics) – One of the, if not the, best comic series on the shelves today. It feels like a bit since the previous issue but the series is no less the emotional gut punch and no time has passed at all.

Preview: The American Way: Those Above and Below #2

America Way: Those Above and Below #2

(W) John Ridley (A/CA) Georges Jeanty
In Shops: Aug 16, 2017
SRP: $3.99

The conflict with political radicals that took one man’s life sits heavy with Jason. Accusations that, by continuing to be the superhero the American, he’s become a pawn for the government have taken on a new sharpness as the Civil Rights movement of the 1970s gains an added urgency. This call to do what’s right is one that his former ally Amber Waves has already answered by taking matters into her own hands and using her powers to protest injustice-and she’s already paying the deadly cost as the police and Federal agents attack her where she lives. The sequel to the hit comics series continues, crafted by writer John Ridley (TV’s American Crime and Guerrilla).

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors are choosing up to five books and why they’re choosing the books. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Joe

Top Pick: Dark Nights: Metal #1 (DC Comics) – Snyder and Cappulo back on a Batman book that will have huge repercussions and changed for the DC universe. Hell yes!

Southern Bastards #17 (Image) – This book doesn’t come out often enough, and I’m only complaining because it’s so damn good.

Aquaman #27 (DC Comics) – This has been such a good arc with incredible art and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #8 (Marvel) – This has been such a pleasant surprise to me and a lot of fun. Duggan knows how to tie the ridiculousness with action so well on Deadpool, and he brings that to this series.

Astonishing X-Men #2 (Marvel) – A really solid first issue that hit the nostalgia home run much more than Gold did for me. The ending teased something huge but I’m sure that was just a trick by a certain character.

 

Brett

Top Pick: American Way: Those Above and Below #2 (Vertigo) – Jon Ridley alone is enough to get me looking forward to this series but the first issue knocked it out of the park having me excited to read the second.

Catalyst Prime Superb #2 (Lion Forge Comics) – The first issue was solid and delivers on Catalyst Prime’s promises. I want to see where this second one goes to see if it can continue the positive direction of the entire line.

Future Quest Presents #1 (DC Comics) – A new anthology-ish series that continues the adventures of some of my favorite childhood characters.

Motor Girl #8 (Abstract Studios) – Easily the best comic on the market. It mixes humor and feels in a way no other comic is doing. Just utter perfection and the one I look forward to each and every month.

Sh*t My Presidents Says: Illustrated Tweets of Donald Trump (IDW Publishing) – Shannon Wheeler’s cartoons that bring President Trump’s tweets to life are collected in this book. It’s both funny and… sad.

Review: The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1

Ten short (from where I’m sitting, anyway) years ago John Ridley was far from a household name in the entertainment industry, yet alone an Oscar winner. That was well before 12 Years A Slave and American Crime, though, and now it’s a different story. A different world. Or is it?

Certainly Ridley returning to the only-slightly-fictionalized world of The American Way a decade after he and artist Georges Jeanty first created it is both a pleasant surprise as well as something of a coup for DC Comics‘ perpetually-struggling Vertigo label, but 10 years (or thereabouts) have passed in the four-color world, as well, and the opening salvo in the new six-part The American Way: Those Above And Those Below shows that they haven’t necessarily been kind to protagonist Jason Fisher, a.k.a. The New American, or his surviving former Civil Defense Corps teammates. As 1972 dawns, Fisher is cleaning up the Baltimore ghettos by means both direct and decidedly brutal, while Amber (Waves) Eaton has become a Weather Underground/SLA-style revolutionary, and Missy (Ole Miss) Devereaux, now married to the governor of Mississippi, is being maneuvered into political office in the same way George Wallace’s wife was when that miserable old racist bastard was term-limited out of office. We know the paths of these one-time “allies” in an officially-sanctioned US government PR sham operation are bound to converge, but how and why remains to be seen yet. This issue guarantees one thing, though — it will invariably be fascinating to see the chess pieces moved (or fall?) into place.

Tight, intricate plotting is a hallmark of all Ridley’s work, and if you haven’t read the first American Way series, rest easy: the basics of what happened in it are introduced into this one in a naturalistic, almost non-expository way that doesn’t hamper the forward momentum of the plot here in the least (and Vertigo has recently re-issued it in trade, as well, if you find yourself sufficiently motivated to see how it all began). The racial, economic, and social divisions explored with such candor last time out have clearly not improved and are certain to form this series’ thematic background, which should surprise no one, and while it can certainly be argued that Ridley is less than subtle in his proselytizing, it’s nevertheless effective and he at least uses his characters’ life circumstances to illustrate his points rather than taking the lazy and uninspired way out and simply utilizing them as authorial mouthpieces. The one potential “strike” against the relatively large ensemble cast on offer here is that Jason’s paralyzed Panther brother comes off as being more interesting and fully-rounded than does our titular hero himself, but hey — it’s part one, so we’ll see how all that goes.

Jeanty, for his part, absolutely nails it on the art in this book. Action scenes have a crisp and dynamic flow to them, lower-key “talky” segments remain visually interesting and employ inventive-without-being-ostentatious “camera” angles, subtleties of expression and body language are right on the money, and the period setting is evoked smoothly and authentically. Danny Miki‘s inks are faithful to the pencils in the best way, accentuating and enhancing detail without burying them under an extra layer of faux “style,” and Nick Filardi finishes everything off with expertly-chosen and highly atmospheric colors. “Cinematic” is not too shabby a shorthand description for this comic’s overall look, but it probably sells the effort by these firing-on-all-cylinders creators a bit short, truth be told. Maybe we should call it “Oscar-level cinematic” or something?

Still, it’s not a completely flawless effort : the decision (whether called for in the script or “ad-libbed” by the art team I have no idea) to slip a John Constantine doppleganger into the works for a panel threatens to take readers out of the book for a moment, it’s true, but what the hell — it’s high time he migrated back over to Vertigo by any means necessary, and if that’s the only gripe I’ve got, it’s a pretty small one. Almost seems petty to even bring it up. Still, in a comic that’s all about big (and, sadly, eternal) questions about race and class, a cheap (if admittedly fun) little aside like that stands out like a sore thumb and really does disrupt the rhythm of the storytelling, if only briefly.

Apart from that and the drug-pusher villain that Jason is out to take down being a bit too broad of a caricature (he’s also a cold-blooded killer who flat-out enjoys the taking of human life rather than viewing it as unfortunate reality of his chosen “profession”), though, there is very nearly flawless comic-booking going on in the pages of The American Way: Those Above And Those Below #1. Topical and provocative without being preachy, accessible to new readers without resorting to “info-dump” condescension, and smart without feeling the need to call attention to its own intelligence, this is supremely effective, thought-provoking, resonant stuff. I’m down for the whole ride — and I respectfully suggest that you should be, as well.

Story: John Ridley  Art: Georges Jeanty and Danny Miki
Story: 8.0  Art: 9.0  Overall: 8.5  Recommendation: Buy

Preview: The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1

The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1

(W) John Ridley (A/CA) Georges Jeanty
In Shops: Jul 12, 2017
SRP: $3.99

It’s been a decade since the Civil Defense Corps was exposed as a fraud created by the U.S. Government for propaganda purposes. While most of the heroes who survived the catastrophe have retired or disappeared, the New American still carries on, trying to keep communities safe amid the social turmoil of the 1970s. But with the nation split in two over civil rights and the changing political landscape, this isn’t easy. Some of the American’s former colleagues are on opposite sides of the law: Amber Waves joined a group of domestic terrorists, while Missy, a.k.a. Ole Miss, has thrown her hat into the political ring. As the ground shifts beneath his feet and new threats arise, which side will the American choose? This sequel to the hit miniseries by the original team of writer John Ridley (Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave and creator of TV’s American Crime) and artist Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse) moves the story forward in history, factoring in how real-life events might be affected by the presence of superheroes, and how those events change the heroes in turn.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Paul

Top Pick: Jean Grey #4 (Marvel) – Jean Grey is doing everything she can to see that she doesn’t suffer under the power of the Phoenix, like her “other” self did…and I am here for all of it! This has been a really great series with a strong lead character who isn’t taking crap from anyone, especially a cosmic fire bird. Her search for answers has been fun, and I am really looking to the inevitable showdown with the big bird itself.

Hulk #8 (Marvel) – This series has been a great read, following Jen as she struggled to keep her anger in check, but now that her Hulk has been released, it’s going to be more interesting to see how she learns to balance life as Jennifer and her new Hulk persona, or if one will take complete control. If you’re not already reading this book, I recommend jumping on board.

Weapon X #5 (Marvel) – This has been an exciting crossover with Old Man Logan, his team and Amadeus Cho. The team is tracking down the Weapon X program to shut it down for good, and along the way we’re getting some decent character interaction and action. I am excited to see if Weapon X’s ‘batch H’ prototype is released, because that will be a showdown not to be missed.

 

Brett

Top Pick: American Way: Those Above and Below #1 (Vertigo) – John Ridley is back and returns to the series he completed 10 years ago. It’s 1972 and tensions are rising in this heroes in the real world take that blew me away with its first issue.

Catalyst Prime: Accell #2 (Lion Forge Comics) – I loved the first issue and can’t wait to read the second. Just a lot of fun.

Centipede #1 (Dynamite Entertainment) – I know this being on here might seem crazy, but the first issue is a lot of fun and hits the right buttons for us that grew up playing Atari.

Dark Days: The Casting #1 (DC Comics) – A bit heavier in DC lore than I like, but it’s setting up what feels like one hell of a mystery and one hell of a battle to come.

S##t and P##s (Retrofit Comics) – This indie publisher has never disappointed and this is no exception. A dark journey into a sewage processing plant built on top of the ruins of a failing civilization. The custodian of this horrid place encounters all types of things that should not be in this science fiction adventure.

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