Tuesday, August 7, 2012
In the modern era comics are such a diverse and all encompassing medium that it’s easy to forget where, particularly in the world of western comics, their roots lay. That’s right, in depression, war, and the All-American punch in the face. The effect that the punch in the face has in superhero comics, the main genre of comics in
, is not to be under estimated. Just take a look at some of the most important comic book covers in the last seventy years. Action Comics issue one has an image of Superman readying himself to punch a criminal in the face with a car, Captain America Comics issue one has Cap punching Hitler in his stupid moustache, most Jack Kirby covers have one of his characters jumping off the page trying to punch you, the reader, in the face. It can be argued that as a species it’s in our very being to enjoy watching a fight. That’s why Jason Statham films regularly top the box office charts and Paul Giamatti films do not, regardless of the formers height and the latter’s considerable skill. The thing is all the examples above are fiction. How does it actually feel to be a part of a real, scheduled fight? And why would you do it? Most importantly, how would someone utilise this real world fighting to tell a compelling piece of fiction. In recent years, two comics have been released that seek to answer that question by focussing on the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, a sport that is gaining in popularity on a daily basis, yet approach it in completely different ways. What are they and how did they fare? Find out after the jump, or as UFC commentator Mike Goldberg says, here we go! America
Oren Redmond is a man whose life is in a downward spiral. Like so many in their twenties,
fell into his job rather than actively sought it out. Now stuck in a middle office purgatory, he decides that he needs to make a change before the claws of clerical life finally sink in for good. Deciding to join the mixed martial arts gym that his brother, a semi famous local fighter, frequents, Oren begins the long road to becoming a professional fighter taking on the nickname ‘Rooster’ in the progress. Redmond
The world that these characters inhabit isn’t the dream world that superheroes or even
Hollywood feel good tales like Rocky reside in. This is the real world and Heart’s greatest strength is allowing stark reality to creep in around the edges of the story. We see the hard work that these guys go through on a daily basis to train for fights, but we also see what the blood, sweat, and tears provide, with Oren looking and feeling better and soaking in the adoration being a local celebrity provides. It’s not all good times though as the feeling of euphoria doesn’t always last and Heart shows that losing a fight can be an incredibly devastating feeling to experience.
Unlike me, a proud East Londoner with no knowledge of American television hosts past Letterman and Jon Stewart, the name Blair Butler probably means a lot to you. Famous for doing telly stuff on G4,
is also a proficient writer and does amazingly well in getting the finer points of the sport across to the potentially uninitiated. It helps that she is writing about a subject that she is interested in for sure, but a writer with a lesser vision of what they wanted to get across would have resorted to Rocky style ‘against all odds’ clichés. What Butler does instead is show how win or lose, if you work hard at trying to achieve your goals you will feel more content as a human being, even if you do take a few punches to the face along the way. Butler also excels in giving each character distinctive voices and personalities, in particular when it comes to Oren and the other members of the gym, using each member to characterise the potential glories and pitfalls that being in any competitive sport provides. Butler
Verdict – Buy It
For three rounds the two fighters go at each other and as this is a work of fiction, Brown makes sure that this is the best fight you could possibly experience with both fighters giving it their all and taking turns to gain the advantage. To keep the fight on display from becoming stagnant to the reader, Brown employs every move and technique that can be used within the confines of mixed martial arts to full effect. We get to see flurries of punches and dirty boxing, flying knees and elbows, throws and Greco-Roman style grappling, and some fine use of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, often seen as the keystone for all modern mixed martial arts.