‘The American Way’ on Fresh Air

I was listening to Fresh Air, one of my favorite shows, when I was surprised to hear an interview with writer John Ridley, who created the Wildstorm book, The American Way, and it was solely about the comic book, which is out in trade paperback.

This interview really made me want to read the book.

It’s a tough thing to pull off a period piece about superheroes, and if Ridley’s gotten away with it, I’d be mighty impressed. As soon as I heard that he’d included Bobby Kennedy as a character, I became intrigued.

Did anyone read this when the issues came out? What did you think?

Was Undercover Brother grossly underrated?


  1. I read the last four issue and I really enjoyed it. I just got the trade at the Pittsburgh Con and was going to read it tonight. Weird. I’ll have to check out the interview.

  2. Heard the interview, seen Three Kings and Undercover Brother, haven’t read “The American Way,” and I’ll add to the shock quotient and say I’m pretty amazed that it’s the same guy behind all three things. Wow, talk about some range. Just Three Kings and Undercover Brother compared seems like they came out of two completely different people, so this guy has got quite a bit going on in his head — smart guy.

    “Was Undercover Brother grossly underrated?”

    I think this is exactly the kind of movie that can in no way be accurately measured with a ten star rating system “average number,” because if you actually look at the individual reviews, it’s more “loved it” against “hated it” rather than much in the middle. The movie was meant to challenge and poke fun at the stereotypes and assumptions of both sides of the race issue, so by its very nature its bound to be controversial. I think it can be said that the humor doesn’t go much farther than Autin Powers or any Tarantino film, but because its not made by white people, it caught some flack maybe?

    Anyway, after hearing that interview, the writer sounds very much the intellectual, but hearing him talk about the JLA and the Avengers on Fresh Air as if they’re something anybody would know about, and having seen Undercover Brother, I suspect he’s got some heavy personal fanboy history. Undercover Brother has “fanboy” written all over it. The chair in the barber shop was totally fabulous.

    I liked it. If they make a movie out of “American Way,” the “East Coast Intellectual” sounds like the part I may have to audition for…

  3. “Undercover Brother”. Wow. Uhm, whew. Didn’t enjoy it much.

    Is there a great debate going on whether or not “Undercover Brother” was grossly underrated?

  4. No great debate, but again — Undercover Brother, being a very “really liked it” vs. “really didn’t” kind of movie, means that any system that averages the number of stars people gave it on IMDB (see Josh’s link above) means that the results will be skewed. Wally gives it an 8, Horatio a 3, result= 5.5, which is hardly indicative of how people really react.

    Also, since American Way is by the same guy, is obviously based on the “War on Terror” thing, but placed back in history with the Great Liberal Ideal Heroes JFK and Bobby Kennedy in charge, this is a guy who doen’t have problems taking pot shots at either side of the political fence, which usually means he’s popular on neither (or an ideal candidate to write articles for the Huffington Post).

  5. I generally dislike politics in my books and I think it would be a great feat for a writer not to show his bias in politcally charged book. The only writer right now who seems to be coming close at all is Brian K Vaughn on Ex Machina. Him, and the guys on Liberality for All. 😉

  6. I can see not wanting politics to interfere with, say, Batman, but if a book is written for that purpose, go for it. If a writer has something to say about politics, any medium is fair game, especially if you can get someone to publish it.

    Now, if you don’t want to read those, that’s obviously your wont.

    I do agree that Vaughan has been very good to provide several sides to a given issue.

  7. How long before we get a superhero story like this in a movie?

  8. All true, but one thing you cannot say so far about John Ridley is that he takes the party line on anything. He has basically managed to piss off both sides of the political spectrum, and if comics is as bonified a medium as any other to defy conventional thinking, then Ridley is welcome to do his thing. I have to say I find BKV to be a rather garden variety liberal, despite his “independent” posturing in Ex Machina, but Ridley is definitely not going to give any reader an easy out.

    JFK and Bobby Kennedy are Liberal Icons, two men Liberals love to worship, so making them the ones behind the super team, anti-commie propaganda effort in The American Way is pretty daring stuff. That said, Ridley, based on his past work, is no conservative either. Judging by his past work, he’s a freelance rabble rouser willing to shake up the assumptions on both sides of the political spectrum. That is something we really need more of, even if we disagree. Too much herd instinct in society, if you ask me.

    Whatever you think, I will say this — I recently just had to take a breath and realize how far comics are willing to go, far beyond the safe confines of other media in the types of stories they tell. It even seems like many super hero movies based on comics end up being Hollywood saying to itself, “Gee, now how can we take the edge off this so its acceptable to what WE think the general public can handle.”

    I may not buy The American Way, and I’m not as big a Ex Machina worshipper as others, but I am constantly amazed at the creative freedom artists have to push the envelope in comics, especially in comparison to what I see in other media.

    I say Ridley is welcome to give it a go and see how far he gets.

  9. “How long before we get a superhero story like this in a movie?”

    Exactly, don’t hold your breath. This is what separates Hollywood from comics.

  10. “I may not buy The American Way, and I’m not as big a Ex Machina worshipper as others”

    I just want to point out that The American Way is only alike Ex Machina in that it deals with some political issues. I don’t really think they share much in terms of tone, pacing, story…Basically I am saying judging American Way by Ex Machina is like judging current Robin by current Nightwing.

    The American Way is really a period piece for the sixties involving race relations with some allegory to the current red state/blue state divide.

    One thing it does very well is convey how the government would handle superhumans in a relatively realistic light. I give the book a thumbs up all the way.