Rating: 4.5/5 – James Dean, an Atomic Katana, and the Enlightenment of Whataburger.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall
I read a 5-page preview of Fu Jitsu #1 in AfterShock’s Dark Ark #1. I liked that preview more than the main story, which wasn’t bad, but it was dark and downbeat while Fu Jitsu was light and fun. Co-creators Jai Nitz (writer) and Wesley St. Claire (artist) are telling the story of a Kung Fu master born in 1897, who is just coming out of a 3-year period in sensory deprivation under the ice of Antarctica (to “forget about a girl”). There is talk of rebirth and he has the appearance of a teenage boy, so it’s unclear if he never ages or if he periodically regenerates… or perhaps he uses his “cellular kung fu” to keep himself from aging.
The villainous Doctor Wadlow has just reacquired the Atomic Katana, a “Spear of Destiny” level mystical weapon he had his zombie blacksmiths forge for him in the atomic fire of Nagasaki at the end of World War II. He’s going to try to use it to take over the world, but he needs to deal with the one thing that could stop him… our hero Fu Jitsu.
There is a lot going on in this issue. A lot of backstory is only hinted at. Our hero is 120 years old, he’s been doing this for a while. That all this information coming at me made me want to learn more instead of being off-putting is a credit to Nitz and St. Claire. The dialogue was informative while not feeling stilted and St. Claire made even the most mundane scenes hold my visual interest. The story kicks into high gear when James Dean (!!) shows up at the Antarctic base with every intention of taking out Fu. The art follows suit and St. Clair brings the reader through an action sequence that takes up most of the second half of the issue with some great visuals and Nitz/St. Claire showcase some very fantastical kung fu powers that border on the mystical/super-heroic, which just added to the fun for me.
I thoroughly enjoyed Fu Jitsu from beginning to end. It was a welcome relief to both the from reality I see on the nightly news every day, as well as to a lot of other comics that have a darker take on storytelling. I liked the title character immediately and I want to know more about him and his world. That’s 100% all the creative team needed to do to get me to come back for #2, but they added onto that with engaging dialogue and kinetic art that drew me into the world. Fu Jitsu is one of my favorite new series of the past few months and I’ll definitely be back for more.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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