PopCultHQ Comic Book Review: ‘AMERIKARATE’ #1 from Action Lab: Danger Zone

PopCultHQ received a preview copy of AMERIKARATE #1 from Action Lab: Danger Zone. Hitting retailers on New Comic Book Day, Wednesday, March 1st, the creative team for this series features writing from Brockton McKinney and Corey Kalman, with art from Devin Roth.

<BE SURE TO CHECK OUT POPCULTHQ’S INTERVIEW WITH THE CREATORS OF AMERIKARATE!>

Here’s PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of the premiere issue of…

AMERIKARATE #1:

Writers: Brockton McKinney, Corey Kalman
Artist: Devin Roth

On Sale: Mar 01, 2017
SRP: $4.99
Sam Kickwell was the best of the best–until a terrible karate accident involving his brother and ninjas convinced him to hang up his black belt. Now he and his appendage-less sibling have moved to a town that has outlawed martial arts; a place they can finally be at peace—until the fateful day his enemies arrive, forcing him back into the only life he’s ever known: Karate fighting for America!
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In the vein of the greatest ’80s action flicks of all time – such as Bloodsport, Gymkata, Rambo, Commando, and Kickboxer – comes AMERIKARATE! The story of one American’s fight to karate-fight with karate for America – and karate!

PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
AMERIKARATE #1

Are you freakin’ kidding me? This new series from Action Lab: Danger Zone is going to high-kick its way into the comic book community and karate-chop down anything in its path. I damn near pissed myself reading AMERIKARATE! Not afraid to admit it in the least.

Sam Kickwell (love the name!) and his quadriplegic (because of a karate accident) brother Rick wander into Baconville, a town that hates karate. Say what?! One of the things I’ll point out is that I suspect within only a mere three pages or so, I guarantee you’ll put voices in your head to these characters. They give off that adult cartoon vibe. Having been born in 1973, my youth was filled with 80s action films and plenty of ninja flicks. What AMERIKARATE has done is captured what made those films great (and at times cheesy) and injected it with the kind of adult humor you’ve come to expect from a Danger Zone title. You almost get a feel for one of the Sunday night FOX animated shows (Family Guy, American Dad) or something found on Adult Swim. But whereas those shows have censors and only go so far with their humor, AMERIKARATE is a no-holds-barred battle royal where nothing is off-limits.

Only someone that fights for his right to fight is someone that deserves the right to fight. Fight karate. AMERIKARATE.

Writing:

Writers Brockton McKinney and Corey Kalman work terrifically in tandem. I can only imagine the jokes and one-liners that have been tossed around and likely saved for future issues. What the creative duo does exceedingly well is present us a comic with layers. It may not appear like much on the surface, but it should be mentioned the amount of work that had to go into AMERIKARATE.

Kalman and McKinney did an excellent job at laying the groundwork for AMERIKARATE. You get the premise, a fair amount of backstory on Sam and Rick, and the tone and direction of the title. All of that in itself is imperative for a strong premiere issue. But Corey and Brockton add another important, albeit difficult one to pull off, layer and that’s a strong comedic delivery. It’s the sharp wit and intelligent timing that really needs to be valued. If the writers continue to deliver fun and exciting stories on Sam’s mission, and the humor can maintain its pace and performance, there’ll be no stopping AMERIKARATE!

And what you could call yet another layer is the subtle nods to 80s references cleverly dispersed throughout which make me reminisce of my younger days. These are feel-good feelings the writers triggered through a comic book. How can you not appreciate that? This is a comic that is simply enjoyable from front to back. You easily get double the value for the price and is a must on sheer entertainment factor alone. McKinney and Kalman make for a perfect pairing and showcase what can be produced when two creative minds come together to simply bring a fun comic book series back into the fold.

Art:

Devin Roth brings with him his animation experience as a character designer for Bob’s Burgers and Disney’s Future-Worm! and is really having some fun with this comic. I mean, bro, Sam’s junk hanging over the panel?! What Devin has done in this first issue is give us a defining, recognizable look for the series and its characters. The bold pastels are a brilliant choice and very much the look of the Miami Vice, big hair, neon-filled nights many of us recall. But even aside from that, the illustrations floor me for something some may not consider. The value of Roth’s artistic input to the product as a whole. AMERIKARATE is a perfect example of a comic book where every creator involved adds a great deal of value to the title, and Devin’s contributions are certainly a prime example. I expect he’s going to have some fun exploring the characters and this world McKinney and Kalman are creating. I, for one, eagerly await to see what Roth has in store for us next.

PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:

AMERIKARATE screams fun and boy, does it deliver! Action Lab: Danger Zone has another solid winner on its hands! Non-stop action, cover-to-cover laughs, a hint of nostalgia, and an overall package (hehe) that is exceptionally entertaining. The humor is delivered throughout with precision and often comes unexpectedly, which adds to its comedic punch. And the humor doesn’t simply come from the writing. Roth does a remarkable job with some of the exaggerations and angles that bring another valuable component to the title. Not simply providing the artwork, but having the art play just as much of a role to the story as the story does to the art.

I think what the strongest attribute is with AMERIKARATE, and one you may not even be able to promote, is the feeling you have while reading it. It hearkens back to a time in our youth when we were more innocent. When reading a comic book felt like a getaway in which you could immerse yourself into this world and just revel in that happiness. That’s what AMERIKARATE brought out for me. A feeling of comics being fun again. Of being able to open the cover and just be entertained the entire book. I know that the next issue will surely keep my laughing and I look forward to following along with Sam on his journey and his fight for his right to fight karate!

PopCultHQ’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

5 out of 5 Stars

 

AMERIKARATE #1 can be pre-ordered NOW on ComiXology,
or at your local comic shop and various online retailers on March 1st!

COVERS AVAILABLE

PREVIEW PAGES


Be sure to follow the creative team!

 

Writer – Brockton McKinney

 

 

 

 

 

Writer – Corey Kalman

 

 

 

 

 

Artist – Devin Roth 

 

 

 

 

 

Publisher – Action Lab: Danger Zone

 

 

About Jason Bennett 3648 Articles
Jason Bennett is PopCultHQ's chief editor, a contributing writer, and comic book reviewer/reporter. One with the Force. Browncoats Unite! So say we all! Follow Jason on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @TahoeJBennett