Collects issues 0-7 of the comic.

Writer: Alex Ross, Jim Krueger
Artists: Steven Sadowski, Carlos Paul, Adrian Moreno
Publisher: Dynamite
Publication year: 2008

Bruce Carter used to be a superhero called the Fighting Yank but now he’s an old man who can feel his death approaching. Suddenly, an American flag by his fireside springs to life and accuses Bruce of doing terrible things but also that he could make amends. The flag calls itself the American spirit and it contains the spirits of everyone who has sacrificed themselves for US.

Bruce reminisces about the past, when he was a superhero during WWII. It turned out that Hitler had Pandora’s Box and Bruce was sent to retrieve it. One of Bruce’s powers is to talk to his ancestor who has a soldier working for George Washington. This ghost tells Bruce that he can end all of evil in the world but at at terrible price: he would have to imprison all of his superpowered friends into the box along with evil because the supers represent hope which has to be locked up along with evil. Not surprisingly, the other heroes not only refuse this suggestion but also refuse to believe it. So, working slowly Bruce has imprisoned his friends into the box.

The American spirit says that the ghost was wrong and has led Bruce astray. Bruce agrees to try to make things right and the trio (Bruce, America’s spirit, and the ghost) travels to Shangri-La to see the Green Lama, one of the few old heroes Bruce hasn’t imprisoned. Bruce is afraid that the Green Lama, Jethron, will kill him for what he has done. Instead Jethron agrees to help Bruce. Together they set out to shatter the box and free the heroes.

I quite liked the storyline, despite some similarities to other stuff I’ve read. We see most of the story through Bruce’s eyes and get to know that he feels terribly guilty for tricking his friends. Unfortunately, we don’t really get to know any of the other characters much. I think the large hero gallery (which is all white and has only two women in it…) works against the story. We see a lot of fight scenes and males in colorful costumes but I for one didn’t know who they were. Most of the time, I didn’t even know their powers. For example, Black Terror (who is actually a white man) looks cool but the only thing I know about him is that he’s really angry and wants to find his sidekick Tim. Samson is the only one who stands out of the crowd a little and he is only in a couple of scenes. So it’s very hard to care about any of them.

However, I read from the net that the series is apparently based on some old heroes, which cleared up some things. Maybe I was supposed to know them but I didn’t. The collected edition even has some pages from the Yank’s journal but unfortunately they don’t actually introduce the characters at all.

I really liked the world building so it’s a shame the characters were left so vague and clearly old-fashioned. The USA is practically run by Dynamic Industries which is owned by a former hero Dynamic Man and his Dynamic Family. They have given power armors to the police and control media. They have also made soldiers into Frankenstein’s monsters: dead soldiers are put back together and put back to the fight. They even look like Frankenstein’s monsters.

The library has the second volume so I’ll be reading that, too.