American Flagg! by Howard Chaykin

American Flagg!
by Howard Chaykin
Dynamic Forces, 2008

This 1983 series is recommended in an essay in Maps and Legends by comics fan Michael Chabon, which originally appeared as the foreword to this collected reprint of the first six issues. Its mixture of sex, satire and sci-fi may seem old hat now, but American Flagg! details a future dominated by psychotic corporations, tawdry media ultraviolence and really bad ’80s fashion with gleeful perversity. It’s the missing link between Blade Runner and Watchmen, like a predecessor of the excellent Transmetropolitan.

The main character Reuben Flagg swaggers and screws his way through Chicago’s Plexmall while battling political corruption and feral motorcycle gangs. Chaykin’s excellent chunky figures and inventive panel layout stand up well after nearly thirty years. Many of the pages are packed with information like tuning into several TV stations at once, and Ken Bruzenak’s famous lettering includes enormous kinetic sound effects and numerous corporate logos. Some of the plot details (the U.S. government and its parasitic business interests have abandoned Earth for Mars) are now uncomfortably prescient.

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