Saturday, January 13, 2018

The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #5 Review and ***SPOILERS***

Bring On The Fire

Written by: John Ridley
Art by: Georges Jeanty, John Livesay, Le Beau Underwood, Nick Filardi, and Travis Lanham
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 3, 2018


I'll admit that I haven't been the biggest fan of this series up to this point. Every issue had at least been written fairly well, even if not in an entertaining way. That is, up until the last issue. After the fourth issue, I am pretty much checked out for the rest of this series. I think the series has been boring and the dialogue has been heavy-handed, so unless something surprises me in this, I'm not looking forward to finishing out the final issue.

Explain It!

For the first seven pages of this comic, there is exactly one word balloon. I think that is the first time in the entire series thus far that there have been more than two or three consecutive PANELS without dialogue, let alone multiple pages. But this issue picks up in the wake of the final page from the last one, with Jason about to throw down with Samuel. The two go back and forth on which one has the upper hand for a bit before Jason finally gets a few good hits in.

Samuel flames down and Jason sees that he's just a kid, so he hesitates. Samuel takes that opportunity to power back up and knock Jason's socks off and bolt. Jason walks back to where he and his brother are staying, his hair half burned off from the fight. His brother has been going through Samuel's journals and tells Jason a story from one of them.

Before we get to hear that story, we need to check in on the other characters. First off is Nikki Lau, who is back from her secret meeting with Ersine Wells. She goes in to talk to Amber about what exactly they're doing. Amber tells her that change is definitely coming before shooting up some drugs. Nikki is hesitant to take some as well, but gives in and passes out in Amber's lap. When she wakes up, Amber tells her what her "one more action" that she's going to take after the series of bombings is. Amber is going to turn herself in because it's the last thing they would expect.

Meanwhile, Missy is giving a speech on her campaign tour. She reveals to the public what Tannis Darling threatened her with in the last issue: that she let Southern Cross die in favor of saving Jason. The people in attendance yell some pretty vile things at her that I won't quote here, and Hollis wants to know what Missy was thinking. She finally tells Hollis that she is dying of cancer. She tells him that she felt guilty because she used to be in love with Southern Cross. Hollis tells her that she never should have told that secret before he goes off to hunt down Samuel.

Now we can get back to the story from Samuel's journals. Samuel's brother, Avery, was accused of whistling at a white girl and, even though he didn't actually do it, two guys decided to take him out for it. Avery wouldn't back down to them, so they took him to a mill outside of town and beat the hell out of him. Then they tied him up and caught the kid on fire. Yeah, these guys are messed up. The issue ends with Jason returning to the mill where he fought Samuel as the lines of Samuel's journal read, "All will know my fury. Come what may."

I think that is a pretty kick-ass way to end this issue. This is the first issue of this series so far that has kept be engaged the entire time. While there is still a whole lot of talking, there is a lot less than in recent issues, and I think that helped the book a ton. Instead of constantly reading dialogue meant to make the reader uncomfortable, you can see some of the emotions of the characters play out in the art, which I also thought was the best it has been so far. After this surprise, I'm cautiously optimistic about the end of this series coming later this month.

Bits and Pieces:

After a subpar fourth issue, this one picks up the pace and cuts out some of the unnecessary dialogue. The art looks better than it has all series, and the story is all coming together. For the first time since the series began, I can say that I'm excited to see what comes next in the final issue.


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