Writer – Corey Kalman, Brockton McKinney. Illustrated by Devin Roth
In a world where there are too many comics to read and not enough time to read them one man must face the ultimate challenge! Unbeknownst to this one man, while he sits and reads comics while going number two, terrorists have seized control of the building he is reading in! They’ve dug in, have a nefarious plan and hold the lives of… sure… thousands of people in their evil hands! The police don’t know what they’re up against, the bureaucratic government is bureaucratic and ineffective, and this one man’s secret past is about to catch up to him! He’s alone, tired, fortunately feeling a few pounds lighter… And the only chance anyone has!
From the studio that brought you ADULT CONTINUITY and CULTURAL JUNKDRAWER Comes the ULTIMATE ride of the late winter, early-spring!
COMICS ON THE CAN!
Once in a lifetime a comic comes out that challenges how we perceive the medium and stretches the boundaries of what can be done with it thus raising the bar for all creators and readers alike. A work of art so profound that it virtually changes the paradigm overnight creating a standard that all comics after the fact will be compared to and forced to take into account when moving forward.
Amerikarate isn’t that comic.
It is hella funny though!
It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but loving homage/parody gives that statement a run for its money.
Merrily and unapologetically wearing it’s love of over the top 80s action movie cliches on its sleeve; Amerikarate wholeheartedly commits to the goofball internal logic and tropes of that era. Most of the 80’s movies were littered with the Schwarzeneggers and Stalones (and to a much lesser degree the Dudikoffs and Whals) of muscle bound killing machines, spouting glib one liners with the same regularity (and usually in tandem) of spouting arteries. It was great cornball fun especially being an early teen boy with hormone driven aggression and a morbid sense of humor. Another staple of the times were the low budget ninja and Kung fu movies brought to home video, Movie channel, and HBO by the likes of Fullmoon and Cannon Video; Chuck Norris chop fests where a strong silent bad-ass has to massacre endless hordes of henchmen to get to the power mad boss usually played by a veteran character actor. The characters were essentially archetypes with little internal conflict mainly because there is so much EXternal conflict to get to. It was a magic time of endless machine gun rounds, Gary Busey or Dennis Hopper meeting grisly but ironically justified ends, and gas based fireball explosions.
Amerikarate understands and embraces this trope but throws in some other classic 80s story beats for good measure. About the only thing missing for the 80s homage is the overwhelming homoerotic subtext usually present in those movies. This is only the first issue, though.
Our hero, Sam Kickwell, named in an obvious move to hurl subtlety through a plate glass window, opens the story at the border of Baconville. A sign reading “leave all weapons here” and a blood stained bucket with a pair of nunchucks hangs below. Sam carries his crippled brother, Rick, in his backpack. Rick lost both his arms and legs in a karate attack and as dictated by the narrative structure is the focus of the caring sensitive side of our hero and the eventual sacrificial lamb that will turn Sam into the untethered killing machine in the last act.
It doesn’t take long for Sam and Rick to run afoul of the powers that be in Baconville because of his karate past. The mayor and sheriff; warped parodies of the typical roadblock character in flicks such as Roadhouse, Rolling Thunder, and First Blood inform Sam that Karate is forbidden and that (naturally) they don’t like strangers in their town. As a result Sam decides to stay a spell in Baconville and rents a barn from, naturally, the mayor’s hot daughter. One Footloose homage, cow violence, and contrived love scene that should be set to a Richard Marx power ballad later and Sam who has, naturally, renounced karate has to fight a “from out of nowhere level boss”. Talking like the French knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail this bad guy dresses like an enemy of Spawn and carries a spiked club. He taunts Sam and hates on America! Bad move outrageously accented French guy!
I won’t give away the details but Rick, the quadriplegic brother, saves Sam at the last minute. Unleashing justified karate based Sam fury upon the mysterious club wielding French baddie. Sure the appearance of the level boss is neither provided for nor properly justified but the hole in narrative structure is easily papered over by the nutso charm and total commitment to the book’s natural weirdness. Simply put; at this stage you’re willing to accept a French accented super villain with a giant club popping up as just the kind of shit that happens in the world of Amerikarate.
Not the least of the book’s charm is Devin Roth’s illustrations. A designer and illustrator for the Bob’s Burgers cartoon, this is Roth’s first outing in comic book territory. His animation chops are evident throughout; cartoonish character designs straight outta an “Adult Swim” bong powered pitch session keep the tone on target. He doesn’t miss a joke and keeps the essential comic timing chugging along. No small feat for any comic artist little less a first timer.
Somehow finding the dead center of a venn diagram made up of “Footloose”, “Roadhouse” and every Chuck Norris joke ever told; Amerikarate stands out in a crowded field of indie comics not only for its whack-a-doodle mentality but for having the good sense to not take this whole comic book thing the least bit seriously. The book may have one foot placed firmly in a weird nostalgia turf but will be instantly familiar and unabashedly fun to anybody that’s found themselves, despite their better judgement, watching Roadhouse on a Sunday afternoon.
THINGS TANGENTIALLY RELATED TO THE BOOK THAT I COULDN’T GET TO ORGANICALLY IN THE MAIN BODY OF THE REVIEW
I’ve talked with Corey and he warns me that future issues will embrace Bloodsport, Robocop, Commando and Escape from New York. Which pretty much gives me a clear image of his Blu ray collection.
Each issue will have multiple covers including Adult star April O’Neil doing cosplay.
Corey also tells me that future issues will have bonus pages found exclusively on the Woodrocket website.
Woodrocket does mostly hysterical porn parodies like “Ten-Inch Mutant Ninja Turtles” “Doctor Whore” and “Strokemon”.
I have a Woodrocket review on deck for the next edition of ADULT CONTINUITY.
One forgotten gem from this era is “I Come in Peace” which stars Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben facing off against an alien drug dealer and it’s way more awesome than that synopsis could ever hope to describe!
Action Lab Danger Zone is the imprint that Amerikarate is under. A Mature material imprint utilizing a winning formula of boobs, karate, vampires, swear words, boobs and boobs.
A future story arc HAS to pay homage to the popular 80s low budget sub-genre of post apocalyptic road warrior rip-off.
Such brilliant titles in this subgenre include Hell Comes to Frogtown, Cherry 2000, Metalstorm: the Destruction of Jared Syn, Radioactive Dreams, Solarbabies, Def-con 4 and a host of other titles filled with punks wearing assless chaps, cars in the desert and shot in available light.
Yes, I realize that all chaps are assless.
If you want a soundtrack to go with Amerikarate raid your dad’s cassette singles for any power ballad, Cinderella, Richard Marx, any white guy fronted blues bar band raised to soundtrack level for one single, Honeymoon Suite, Bonham, and (of course) Whitesnake.
Throw in a Kenny Loggins Soundtrack song for good measure too.
None of the Loggins and Messina shit; “Danger Zone” all the way!
In the interest of full disclosure I was a big Honeymoon Suite fan.
NEXT: Whatever the hell I feel like.
LATER: More of whatever the hell I feel like.