Down. Set. Fight!

Down-Set-FightSummary: One man versus every mascot in professional sports – THEY WILL ALL BE PUNCHED! It’s kick-off time for this year’s most action-packed and hilarious comic! “Fearless” Chuck Fairlane was football’s fastest rising star, but his career came to a screeching halt when he was expelled from the league after goin’ HAM and causing the biggest brawl in the history of sports. Years later, Chuck has found peace as a high school football coach, until costumed mascots begin attacking him for seemingly no reason. Before long, Chuck’s going to discover that you can’t run away from the past – but you CAN punch it square in the face!

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Down. Set. Fight!, by Chad Bowers, Chris Sims and Scott Kowalchuk 7.75

I found ‘Down. Set. Fight!’ at my local library while I was contesting late fees for an item they had forgotten to scan in. While they were checking to see if the item was in fact on the shelf (it was), this little gem caught my eye.

I knew nothing about it, but the cover intrigued me. Despite its football theme, the picture of a big guy trouncing a dude with an over-sized cartoon head made me wonder what it was about. So I browsed it quickly.

There were other weird characters in it, like a guy in a big red bear suit. It looked very actiony, but I figured that I had it my hands and the worst that would happen is that I would quickly dislike it and return it on my next visit.

Instead, I gobbled it right up. It took me a while to get to it, but once I picked it up I couldn’t set it down. I can’t explain it: I’m not an action comics aficionado and I rather dislike American football, but I had a good time.

I think part of the appeal was is its quirky premise: “Fearless” Fairlane is a retired football star who left the league after taking down the whole opposing team, as well as his own, following an upset at the semi-finals.

Now ten years older, and merely a high school gym coach, he finds himself hunted down by football mascots, who challenge him to duels. The police discover that this is tied to a gambling ring and they think he’s involved.

Chased by silly, suited thugs, and under extreme scrutiny from the police, Fairlane has to find a way to clear his name. But little does he know that a figure from his past is at the root of all his troubles: Dear ol’ dad.

One of the things that I really liked about the book was Fairlane’s moral ambiguity. On the one hand, he wants to do the right thing but, on the other, he wants to please his dad, a high-stakes betting criminal mastermind.

This puts Fairlane in unusual positions that would look bad for him from an outsider’s perspective. But, from our insider’s point of view, it’s obvious that he’s been plied into being responsive to his dad’s demands, no matter how insane.

The perfect example of this are the dangerous trainings that he was subjected to, to hone his skills and to strip him of his reticence – hence the moniker “Fearless”. Years of booby traps and other threats to his life have hardened him.

What’s interesting is that, for all its over-the-top scenarios, the writers managed to make the characters relatable, human. And I think that’s the strength of ‘Down. Set. Fight!’ – without which it would just be gimmicky.

The art doesn’t do it any favours, unfortunately: the drawings look more like elaborate doodles than a detailed work. I think that this is a book that would benefit from a slick treatment, complete with airbrushing and glossy paper.

Still, I rather loved the sight of the thugs dressed in dumb-looking mascots costumes, looking like stuffed teddy bear versions of classic Marvel villains like Rhino, coming out of nowhere to challenge Fairlane. It was a silly ol’ time.

A fun time.

‘Down. Set. Fight!’ was an entertaining book. I wouldn’t want to read a sequel to it, because it’s pointless to stretch the core conceit further, but as an amusingly quirky action number, I think that it’s rather well-conceived.

Intercept it if you can.

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