Wednesday, September 28, 2011

InsaNINETIES - Fighting American

I'm straight up confused at how Rob Liefeld was able to publish Fighting American without getting his ass sued. Seriously, just look at this cover and explain to me how this was okay with the Marvel legal department:

And that's just the start! Just wait to see what happens when we crack the cover!

First though, a bit of backstory. You see, back in 96, Marvel was in dire economic straits and, in an effort to make some money, they farmed out a few characters to comic legends Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld (yes, he's a legend even if he's the butt of every comic joke on the interwebs). It was a very controversial move at the time, to say the least.

The deal was the two would get four books - Iron Man and The Fantastic Four for Lee; The Avengers and Captain America for Liefeld - and a year to do all the continuity-free stories they always wanted to do. It was like a proto-Ultimate universe, but without the option of the original recipe to fall back on. The results were a mixed bag.

While Lee's books were fine, Liefeld ran into scheduling and sales issues. That is to say his sucky ass books were late, and Marvel wasn't having any of it; they fired him.

Down, but not out, Liefeld did what any self respecting creative type would do and quickly respun his plots and pages into this:

At which point he was promptly threatened with legal action by the powers that were at Marvel. After what I can only assume must have been some ridiculous negotiations, Marvel agreed to let Liefeld release his book as long as he altered the costume a bit and never had the American in question throw his shield. The result was Fighting American:

"But," I hear you saying, "you said you were surprised that Marvel didn't sue him. Sounds like they threatened and he relented. End of story." (sidenote: you should really stop talking to your computer, people are going to think you're crazy)

That's the thing, I thought that was the end of the story too until I picked up an issue from a quarter bin and saw this hulking brute:

Followed quickly by these familiar commandos:

And not to mention, Fighting American's spunky girl sidekick:

The book is littered with blatant Marvel rip-offs and no one said a word about it!

Crazy, right? It's like Marvel focused on the character on the cover, that they totally ignored the ones underneath it. I'm honestly shocked, and kind of impressed, that Liefeld got away with it. Not that it mattered really.

Fighting American is like most knock-off books: incomprehensible and generic. In the issue I had, the second of his entire run, he fought The Hulk Smash before indulging in a ten page flashback and ultimately deciding to retire as Fighting American.

Ultimately, Fighting American met the same fate as Doom's IV, Bloodstrike, Prophet, and (probably) The Infinite: Obscurity. It's too bad too, Fighting American could have been a real classic....

I'm lying. But it could have been alright...

Okay! It would've been mediocre at best...

Fine! It would have been terrible. I just wanted to see him to more crazy Marvel knockoffs. A blue and orange Iron Man, an all-black Spider-Man, or a Red Goblin? The possibilities are ENDLESS and would have been have been ripe for late aught's blogosphere snark.

Sigh... A man can dream, right?


  1. I always wanted to find that Agent: America preview just for the novelty. I have some of those 'Awesome' comics (just for the novelty) and they have a quality to them. They didn't have the 'funding'.

  2. In fairness the Roarin roughnecks were invented by Alan Moore

  3. Also- Rob got the rights to Fighting American from Joe Simon, if memory serves.
    There was one caveat- FA could NOT throw his shield. He could use it in fights, defense, what have you- no throwing