(UPDATED March 2, 2014: Ridley actually won the Oscar, so what are you waiting for, DC?)
This morning, acclaimed screenwriter John Ridley scored his first Academy Award nomination for his adapted screenplay of 12 Years a Slave. If Ridley wins, will he be the first comic book writer with an Oscar?
That’s right. If you didn’t know, while John Ridley is known primarily for his work on the big screen (in addition to 12 Years, Ridley’s filmography includes writing credits on Undercover Brother, Three Kings, and Red Tails), he also has an extensive resume in nerdy television (Justice League, Static Shock) and comics (The Authority, The American Way). Unfortunately, collected editions of his work on either book is out of print.
That said, individual issues of The American Way are still available digitally on ComiXology. But I’m old school and still prefer holding a book in my hand instead of an iPad.
In the allegorical history of The American Way, it’s the 1960s and a government-sanctioned team of superheroes and villains perform scripted super-powered “fights” for the public. Think World War II-era propaganda films crossed with the WWE and mixed with super powers. Unfortunately, the main hero, Old Glory, dies from a heart attack and is replaced by The New American, a hero who must wear a full mask to hide the fact that he’s black. When he’s unmasked, the country collectively loses its shit.
A review in The Washington Post sums up the book this way:
Ridley’s densely packed action-thriller plot zooms along in tandem with his jabs at the racism and xenophobia that underscored the myth of Camelot. He literalizes the era’s ideological conflicts as costumed brawls; the story culminates in a series of enormous fight scenes and a touch of nuclear terror, all set into motion when the New American goes after a serial killer who has attacked a bus full of Freedom Riders.
The trade paperback came out in 2007, but the book has been out of print for a while now. Perhaps Ridley’s cache as an Academy Award nominee (and potential winner) will compel DC to take the book out of moth balls?