With holistic practices like yoga being increasingly marketed to millennials across the Western world, Jai Nitz & Wes St. Claire’s Fujitsu #1, published by Aftershock Comics, is likely to strike a chord with the droves of young readers who frequent the indie comics market. The book follows a smart talking martial artist who utilizes modern scientific practices when needed. From the very first page, we see the relationship between ancient traditions and modern practices at play as the protagonist utilizes an isolation chamber: a man-made quiet space in the otherwise chaotic Western world, for the sole purpose of getting over a girl.
You could argue that this relationship is something we’ve seen before. The pairing of science & magic is an often used but not often recognized trope in the genre. What separates Fujitsu from other modern fantasy of its kind is that it stays in the realm of possibility, even if some of its science isn’t easily proven. Reincarnation is a respected belief in places like Tibet, India, and certain parts of China. Although the science gets much more fantastic by the middle of this issue, the book doesn’t introduce many ideas that we know can’t happen. Keeping that ethic may prove harder to do as the story goes on, but for now, it makes Fujitsu something with a very original feel to it.
The book could be seen as more a pairing of science & spirit than magic. Nitz showcases traditional beliefs and methods of martial arts and lays out what they might look like with a Western understanding of biology. When Fujitsu heals himself, his spirit energy is personified as a bunch of little Fujitsus working at his cells. Molecular kung-fu is as fun to say as it is to think about, and how St. Claire decides to show it in action is one of the cooler quirks of this first issue.
With humor making a big return to books at all levels of the industry in recent years, Nitz throws in some absurd action almost out of necessity. In short: Fujitsu fights James Dean. The choice almost comes off as forced, like it could have been any older celebrity in the position of villain. Historically, Dean has been framed as the quintessential American male, and Dean being a fellow immortal in the book seems to play on the idea that Dean as an idea will never die. The metaphor is solid, but one could argue it comes a decade too late. With the slew of new idols and beauty Gods the Internet has generated, you’d be hard pressed to find a young person who knows anything about Dean beyond recognizing the name.
One outdated joke isn’t enough to mark Fujitsu off by a long shot. The first issue is a great introduction to the world and sets up a story of international criminal intrigue & Eastern thought. Matt Fraction’s Casanova has played with this concept since 2006, but Nitz keeps the concept more centered. As fun and mind-bending as a high concept spy story can be, something more straight-forward, though still well-written can be just as thought-provoking. That’s Fujitsu’s strength, and if Nitz can keep momentum, this may be one to add to your pull list.
(W) Jai Nitz (A/CA) Wesley St. Claire