Fun and Frantic: An Early Look At AfterShock Comics’ Fu Jitsu #1 By Jai Nitz and Wes St.Claire

by Oliver MacNamee

This is a story of a little boy. A little boy, mind you, born 120 years ago in Guam and who, through many different forms of martial arts (sub-atomic kung-fu, for one) has seemed to master not only an elongated lifespan, but even the ability to heal himself. Oh, and he’s a genius, too, having met some of the greatest minds in the world along the way. All the while being supported by a crack team of scientists in Antarctica. Why Antarctica? Well, apparently, to forget a girl. As you do.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, a bearded behemoth and would-be conqueror of the world (aren’t they all?) finds what he has been looking for in the shadowy depths of the waters of St. Paul; the atomic katanna. A sword with magical properties forged by blacksmith zombies. A sword who’s previous owners are now dead, including one president who, “had his head blown off in Dallas”.

Supernatural martial arts and super-powered totemic weapons loom large in this new series from Jai Nitz (writer: El Diablo) and Wes St.Claire (artist: Teen Titans Annual), mixed to create a fun combination that isn’t the usual dour presentation of both. We’re used to our martial arts heroes being soulful, silent and deadly –Daredevil and his constant struggles with The Hand, anyone?–and those wielding magical weapons to be heroic, mythical; legendary. But here, there is a great sense of humour injected into the script to bring you a light-hearted, but action-packed adventure story that even suggests time-travel.

As for the book’s main meanie, would-be global despot, Robert Wadlow, is clearly not a name simply plucked out of thin air by Nitz. His gigantic stature (especially on the cover) may suggest he is not all he seems to be. And, a quick internet search revealed that my Spidey senses were correct. Wadlow was the tallest man ever to have lived, dying at the young age of 22.

And yet, here he is, years later alive–along with another supposedly dead characters from our history–with his two henchmen, who hope they offer them the title of Kings of Australia or “some $#!+”. It’s this kind of injection of humour and kooky historical detail that keeps this series in tongue-in-cheek territory and an intriguing read. Clearly Wadlow et. al. have their own secrets to be revealed in future issues and he makes for a fascinating villain and not your run of the mill dictator-in-waiting.

St. Claire’s artwork is appropriately cartoon-like and zippy, and up to the job of illustrating anything that’s given him by Nitz. From the serenity of our eponymous hero’s Kung-fu moves, to the darker scenes involving Wadlow, as well as those zombie blacksmiths I previously mentioned. There’s even time to introduce a further character to this book by the end, too. In places this reminded me of Joe Staton’s work on Plastic Man or even E-Man, many years ago. Fun, frantic but also a fantastic fit for the story unfolding.

This is a debut issue that sets up the story, introduces the cast of eccentric characters and one Hell of an alternative history suggesting magic weapons have helped shape the world. A child genius, a giant and a great premise. Will you be checking it out, I wonder, when it hits comic book stores this September?

Fu Jitsu #1 By Jai Nitz and Wes St. Claire will be on sale September 27th.  Final order cut-off is September 4th.