Author Topic: The American Way sequel  (Read 76 times)

Online Emperorjones

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The American Way sequel
« on: July 15, 2017, 03:06:44 pm »
I picked up the first issue of John Ridley's The American Way sequel. I really enjoyed the old series which I thought did a very good job of telling a superhero story set in the 1960s with the black hero, The New American. I don't remember much about it now. The original American Way is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

That being said, I was interested in the sequel, which is set in the 1970s. I have mixed feelings about Ridley. He wrote a coonish, IMO, respectability politics screed in the Esquire several years ago which really changed my opinion of him. Before that I had liked his superhero novels Those Who Walk in Darkness and What Fire Cannot Burn. But recently the row that he got in over his BBC show Guerilla, where he excised black women largely from the history of the Black Power movement in Britain to promote Indian actress Freida Pinto, largely because Ridley wanted to acknowledge his own interracial relationship, didn't set well with me.

Despite my misgivings, I did check out the first issue in the American Way sequel and I thought it was good. The artwork is good, the story while set in the 70s, is very topical. Perhaps too much so because I don't know if terms like 'mass incarceration' and excuses like 'it's not hate, it's heritage' were used back then.

By the 70s, the New American remains a complex and complicated character, torn between the establishment and the streets. And Ridley to his credit doesn't fully indict black activists like I was suspecting he might. He sort of does, going with the old depiction of black power activists as being fakers or having some other agenda, but he also doesn't shy away from the New American not being well-received by some in the black community for his efforts against one of the black radicals. Ridley puts the situation out there and presents more than one way to look at things and I appreciated that.

He also followed some of the other characters from The American Way, a young white radical and an older Southern woman who is being encouraged to get into politics by reactionaries. So Ridley has the ingredients here for another strong story.

The American Way is not quite the 'black' Watchmen, but it does have a Watchmen vibe to me, without copying the Watchmen really at all. It's it's own thing and it's well-written, well-drawn, and the start of hopefully something special that won't have Ridley cooning out by the end.