Fu Jitsu #3 Review: Golden Age Admiration, But With A Hyper-Dense Plot

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The Golden Arm and Shaolin Lad, aka Johnny Unitas and Fu Jitsu, are locked in battle with French Revolution as he threatens to drop his flying fortress on the city of Baltimore.

Later, they must also confront Robert Wadlow and his Atomic Katana.

Fu Jitsu #3 cover by Wesley St. Claire
Fu Jitsu #3 cover by Wesley St. Claire

Fu Jitsu has some fun ideas. The numerous historical figures that brush up against Fu Jitsu is cool. It plays with some of the Golden and Silver Age tropes of the eras it seeks to emulate well (certainly better than the recent Fighting American reboot).

However, the plot is impenetrably dense, and this comes from someone who frequently enjoys comics with 70+ years of real-world history behind them. The time hopping, the narration which is itself unstuck in time, and keeping up with which historical figures will pop up next all combine to put forth an endlessly confusing cavalcade of plot and re-contextualization.

The narration is actually one of the biggest killers here. Fu Jitsu's detachment from whatever moment we are seeing deflates the tension while also confusing the audience by going on about numerous things from his life other than what we are being shown in the panels. A bit of restraint and focus would do worlds of good for the narrative of this comic.

However, the detached narrative, it's drifting progression, and its intense complexity still leave it alienating for any reader not willing to work overtime to understand what the hell is going on. This would still be so even without the narration going all over the place.

On top of that, we aren't given much personality from Johnny U or even Fu Jitsu himself to really feel attached to these characters. They don't have much of an identity beyond simply being the protagonists of the comic.

Wesley St. Claire's art does help the Golden Age aesthetic by going far to resemble the comics of old while giving its own unique styling spin. The design for the Golden Arm's uniform is great too. Maria Santaolalla's color work is bright and just washed-out enough to contribute to the retro aesthetic of the overall story.

However, the art doesn't quite salvage the story. Despite actually being a decent send-up of classic comics, the unfocused narrative, cold and detached narrator and lead, and generally hyper-dense plot leaves Fu Jitsu lacking. It's not a particularly enjoyable read, and I cannot recommend it. Give this one a pass.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.