In Kill a man, published by AfterShock Comics, the microcosm of mixed martial arts becomes the test bed for comic writers Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson on which to explore the complexity of human relationships. Present narrative: the expert reigning champion reveals to everyone the homosexuality of his young challenger. Twenty years earlier: the boy’s father, a homophobic fighter, dies under the blows of his homosexual rival.
The short circuit is clear: the EFC (Extreme Fighting Championship) cannot accept a possible gay champion nor James’s mother can forgive her son for having “betrayed” his parent. In the alternation between fighting, reflections and corruption, discrimination and the desire for revenge come to life thanks to the immediacy of Al Morgan‘s sometimes stylized drawing. The black space between the panels frames non-shaded and heavy colors, such as red, purple and gray, metaphors of a high tension, of a constantly limited freedom.
The artist transmits the intensity of the matches through the density, that is, with the presence of small square panels or with the repetition of the figures, captured while they perform the moves and strike. During the decisive challenge, the compositional schemes jump in a whirlwind of movements: the characters face each other in the ring, with disfigured faces around them watching the action. Despite the murky result of the meeting, the comic is clear and effective both in the narrative and in the transmission of an inclusive message.
Translated from italian by David Padovani