The American #6 (1988)

The American was a really interesting comic book written by future Superman writer and TV producer (Smallville, Battlestar Galactica) Mark Verheiden. This series was based on a failed pitch for Captain America, and it’s no surprise that Marvel didn’t buy the premise. If I remember right, the American was a made-up hero, the product of government merchandising and experimentation, a pawn in the government’s wars. This seems a bit old-hat now, but in 1988 it was a cool and interesting idea. Heck, it’s not about the ideas, right, it’s about the execution. And this is a terrific comic. (And Dark Horse has either just reprinted or is just about to reprint this series. Obsessed with Comics recommends it)

By issue 6, the focus of the series had shifted away from government conspiracies and into a focus on our protagonists’ lives. Kelly, the former Kid American jnow grown middle-aged, paunchy and balding, has returned to the small town, Perkinsville, Iowa, where he grew up in order to try to connect with his past:

I’m almost fifty years old. I’ve seen and done some amazing things. And for all of that, there hasn’t been a day I havent thought about that night on Barbara Caldwell’s porch. Maybe it was the last truly-honest moment of my life.

While there, though, Kelly finds some dark secrets about the town. Secrets about a string of murders, secrets that present deadly dangers for Kelly.

This is a dark and interesting comic book story. It’s said that Alan Moore saw The American was a true successor to his acclaimed series Watchmen, due to the series’s dark tone. Like Watchmen, The American was a book of government conspiracies, where nobody can be trusted and people are always out for their own interests. Verheiden does a nice job with the script, and artist Grant Meihm does an equally nice job presenting the art in an understated and interesting way.

Apparently the new Dark Horse paperback was published in November at the absurdly low price of $14.95 for 360 pages. Or $9.66 at overstock.com. I ordered my copy. (and no, I don’t get a damn dime for recommending the collection)

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