The Fist: Philadelphia's Classic Vigilante

By: Matthew Berner
Senior Staff Writer for CosPhilly Communications

This is a first for me. I was sent a copy of this comic to review. How cool is that!?! I've hit the big-time baby and now I'm just going to coast on my fame…. No? Four reviews doesn't make a career? Ugh, fine! Let's do this.

“The Fist” #1, created and written by 2017 Philly Geek Award Nominee for Best Comic Creator, Brandon Bitros and illustrated by Fernando Jimenez, is an indie comic published by Blackstone Comics. The very first thing I want to bring attention to is the great use of color in this book. It is almost entirely black and white with splashes of color throughout that enhances what is great about the art.

Personally, I love black and white comics. They require the artist to fully flesh out their world without the support of coloring and shading to hide any defects and it can produce some career defining art. The subtle color details act as accents to draw the eye to where the artist desires and is used to great effect.

So, I do want to make this clear. This is NOT going to be all sunshine and daisies. As much as I LOVE getting free comics (HINT HINT anyone looking to get guaranteed a review) it doesn’t mean I’m just going to give an A+ to anything sent my way. I have principles you know! This was a very engaging first issue. I had immediate impressions of the recipe for this series: part crime noir, part period piece, with a strong sense of Frank Miller’s Sin City and Daredevil runs, and a hint of the modern Daredevil Netflix series. It manages to feel like a throwback to a classic 80’s hard boiled drama with modern comic trappings that allow for a very easy reading experience.

The 1918 Philadelphia setting really stood out as something that is never really showcased in media. 1918 tends to be overlooked in general, as it’s the end of WW1 and just before the Prohibition era. Couple that with the Philly location over more cities like NYC or LA and it’s definitely a less sexy backdrop but damn does it feel perfect for the story. We meet our protagonist, Riley Reece, and we know he is a man built from his surroundings. He has vices and flaws, has a troubled past, and can barely make enough to keep a roof over his family’s head. He isn’t a handsome playboy or suave rouge type, he’s just a guy. Not dashing, not ugly, he’s average, ordinary, a dude who you couldn’t pick out of a crowd if you were paid to. Which is perfect, since he might also be a masked vigilante. I don’t want to go into much more since this is an indie comic and deserves your dollar, but this is worth the read for the costume alone. Instant classic. It has that Daredevil, from the streets feel, crossed with Iron Fists form and function. It is also shows clear details from his unique history and background. I actually said “cool” out loud, in my office, all alone, when I got to the reveal page.

There are some weaker points including several instances of overwriting, which is something I am sensitive to having survived 90’s comics. There were several beats where I felt the script should have allowed for the art to do the storytelling. The art is generally great, looking full and rich, but there are several points, specifically faces, that don’t quite seem right, and a few of the fight scenes are rigid. Not the end of the world, Marvel and DC still have that problem between creative teams. I also have one final nitpick, the issue built a very compelling world for their characters to live in and clearly set up several arcs for the future, but the final page felt more like a series finale than anything else.

Before I give my final verdict, I want to point out that I hate any review that tries to sum up everything in the final paragraph with an “overall…” or an “in general…”. I find it a hacky, 8th grade level meeting of summation that is well below the standards of someone who is writing professionally… Overall (bite me, I wrote myself into a corner), this is a very good creative team that has produced a VERY good first issue to a series I am genuinely excited to continue. I believe they will improve as they gain their footing in the issues to come and will carve out their own little section of the indie market. I read on average 40 to 50 comics a week and regularly drop what I don't feel is worth following anymore. It doesn't even have to be bad, I must drop titles that are simply okay and I WANT to know more about “The Fist”.  
“The Fist” is available for purchase:


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