Rexco Comic’s aim at creating “comics and graphic novels targeted towards specific underrepresented demographics” was truly met with their crowd-funded creation: Fight of the Century. Created by Rexco co-founders Nick and Troy Allen, this book has characteristics from a variety of other mediums like video games, professional full contact sports, and popular SciFi media that helps set the story’s setting in a unique way.
FIGHT OF THE CENTURY! An all-new biopunk, martial arts mini-series! Fully-funded by Kickstarter and published by @GoRexCo.
Help us #CreateComicsCulture by visiting https://t.co/VUqCXbJ7AL. pic.twitter.com/FJAqysB1MU
— Troy-Jeffrey Allen (@TJAComics) September 24, 2018
Set in a futuristic Brazil, this biopunk book gives us an insight in what the world would look like if Big Pharma companies controlled the world. As a modern retelling of the David vs Goliath trope, we join Rex Punga, a farm boy turned professional mixed martial artist for the Fighters Ultimate Exhibition League (FUEL) as he gets ready for his next fight. In this future, fighters are pumped full of performance-enhancement drugs and unleashed on one another for the pleasure of the crowd.
The art is perfectly balanced, the men are drawn as the pinnacle of athletic perfection, while the women are shown as beautiful and engaging (for the most part). The vibrant color sets and fighter layout used in this first issue are very reminiscent of classic video games like Street Fighter II and Smash TV. The choice of colors make this dystopian future look less like a captivating and growing city and more like a fluorescent lighted slum. This color style and layout is done as an attempt to court the video game player and the sports entertainment consumer demographics, while at the same time trying not to drive away traditional comic consumers. Honestly, it works very well.
This book has a lot of story being thrown at the reader with machine gun precision. We learn very little about Rex during this first issue save for his farming background, his professional fight record 4-4, and that he is clearly not a favorite of the octagon. FOTC creators present readers with a frame by frame action sequence that unfortunately does not always translate well in this medium, take for example this panel:
The hype generated for professional fights comes from the audience itself, not from the fighters. At this point of the story, the reader has no true reason to be excited for this fight, the climactic point of this fight goes over largely unnoticed or emphasized despite its importance to the ongoing story. Even the original Fight of the Century that saw boxing legend Muhammad Ali suffer his first professional defeat at the hands of boxing legend Joe Frazier would have been largely ignored had it not been for the hype surrounding it.
Overall, I feel like this first issue does an excellent job at creating tension despite its sometimes cluttered and fragmented story. There is little in the way of motivation explored for the main character, his disgrace in the public eye has no bearing on the reader because there is no chance to be invested into it. Rex comes off less like a wronged innocent and more like a dumb muscle head that doesn’t understand that contracts can have small print.
Still, everything in this book works well, from the art and colors to the overall story objective. Within the first pages, readers are given the setting, the main and secondary plots, and the origin of the tension that continues to be built throughout the book. Despite my nitpicking, I can honestly say that I am eagerly waiting for the next issue. If you’re looking for a good introductory book to share with your fellow nerds, then this is the one to recommend.
Mike’s Rating: 4 out of 5.
Grab your copy at rexco-comics.com