THE AMERICAN WAY: THOSE ABOVE AND THOSE BELOW #1
The follow up to 2006’s hit series about government created super heroes starts this week with the release of THE AMERICAN WAY: THOSE ABOVE AND THOSE BELOW #1 under DC Comics Vertigo label. Originally published under Wildstorm this series from John Ridley and Georges Jeanty is set in a world where the United States manufactured super heroes and then simultaneously created the villains they would oppose. This would all be televised and the public loved it. Now in 1972 it has all fallen apart. The people grew tired of their fake heroes and the new racial and economic tensions of the country are far removed from the idealistic post war America. The New American is dealing with black militancy in poor communities, Ole Miss shuns the camera feeling her war is over, and Amber Waves has become a domestic terrorist strung out on heroine. Events are transpiring that will bring the heroes together again but this time it will not be a costumed fake that they are facing, instead it will be the redefined landscape of a troubled country.
Right away the first thing that will hit you about this title is that it is raw. There are no pulled punches when it comes to violence, bigotry, or drug abuse. John Ridley jumps right into the issues that plagued America in the early 70’s with reckless abandon and this comic is all the better for it. The entire issue felt like it respected real world issues and does not try to wrap them up in super hero spandex. Instead it shows the reality of how people would reacted towards those with powers knowing that their former exploits were all a government propaganda mission. THE AMERICAN WAY: THOSE ABOVE AND THOSE BELOW #1 is a book with a darker tone that uses its time period to great effect and really forces the reader to see the problems that cannot be solved by just punching them.
The pencils from Georges Jeanty are superb with clever use of narration boxes and panel placement to convey movement in the action scenes. The colors from Nick Filardi are very good as well with each scenario having a different pallet. From the dark gray for the New American’s violent encounter to the sky blue of Ole Miss and her southern press interview. The dichotomy is stark and I can only assume it was intended to be that way. This is a good comic with a lot to say but it definitely earns its place in the Vertigo line so be aware of that before jumping in. The original series was extremely good and earned a lot of praise so I think it is safe to assume this one will as well.