Down. Set. Fight!

Down. Set. Fight!
Alternative editions:
Down.Set.Fight. review
Alternative editions:
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Oni Press - 978-1-63715-442-7
  • Release date: 2014
  • UPC: 9781637154427
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Crime, Humour, Sport

Down. Set. Fight! is going to seriously mess with your expectations. It starts as if twisting around elements of Daredevil’s origin, substituting American football for boxing, and drawn by Scott Kowalchuk as if mid-1950s Jack Kirby, yet this is no revisionist superhero story. It also starts as if it’s going to develop into a crime story, what with football star Chuck Fairlaine under pressure to throw an important game with hints of Michael Avon Oeming’s art instead. That’s not exactly how things develop either. The key is the cover of Chuck punching out a mascot and setting off a brawl that changes his life.

After the unpredictable thrill ride of the opening chapter, writing collaborators Chad Bowers and Chris Sims then check back on Chuck ten years later. While his life’s not taken the expected path, he’s relatively content, until the day an elephant mascot calls him out.

There’s a very dry sense of humour behind Down. Set. Fight, but neither authors nor artist overplay their hand. It’s a subtle wink from the background rather than the pie to the face as we see the training routine Chuck endured as conceived by his father, or attacks from folk in ever more ridiculous mascot costumes. Yet at the same time all the humour could be removed and this would stand up well as a crime plot spanning the decades.

Kowalchuk’s art is phenomenal, and an even bigger mystery than Down. Set. Fight. not being an immediate hit is how an artist this good barely has any credits. The people, the storytelling and the locations are all supplied in a form of imaginative noir cartooning, and Kowalchuk sets the atmosphere perfectly for every scene.

So do Bowers and Sims, actually. It seems as if this is going to be Chuck’s story, and while everything connects with him, individual chapters focus on other characters. Behind it all is a plot that’s daft, but give it some consideration, and someone might, just might pull it together in real life. It’s genius, and right at the end everyone finally lets the comedy flow. And bonus points for incorporating some great Vince Lombardi quotes.

Down. Set. Fight! resembles one of those films that sunk at the box office, yet the charms were revealed with a DVD release and a word of mouth campaign as everyone told their mates how good it is. Ten years after the original release Oni Press have reissued Down. Set. Fight. in hardcover, and it’s well worth the investment.