Written by Chad Bowers and Chris Sims

Drawn by Scott Kowalchuk

Published by Oni Press

One punch can change your life forever. Chuck “Fearless” Fairlane was a rising football star, set on his life path by his inveterate gambler father from an early age. That is, until he punched out an opposing team’s mascot, then the opposing team. Then HIS OWN Team. Then the coaches. His brawl went in League history, but he retired rather than blame the mascot for his outburst.

Ten years after leaving pro football, Chuck is working as a football coach for Darius Rucker High School (Home of the FIghting Blowfish.) One day, a man in an elephant costume appears and picks a fight with him . Soon he finds himself in search of his father, pursued by a bear, and a shark, and a tiger, and just about every other mascot in the U.S. Plus, one determined FBI agent.

While this comic is on the surface a story about a dude beating up hordes of mascots, there was surprising depth in the relationships Chuck has with his father, as well as agent Harrison. Ostensibly a fight comic with a good dose of humor, “Down, Set, Fight!” turns out to be an unexpectedly effective character study.

The art has quite a 70’s grind house feel to it, and is very detailed. Kowalchuk brings the steadily escalating fight scenes, which ramp up exponentially as the series progresses, to the page with economy and skill. The colors have a muted, washed out feel as well. This reinforces the exploitation style, but it doesn’t show off the colorful mascot costumes as well as it could have.

“Down, Set, Fight!” was not my usual sort of comic, but I enjoy the creators’ other works and was glad that I took a shot on it. Much like Oni’s smash-hit “Scott Pilgrim,” this is a fight comic with hidden depths. For full disclosure, I recently interviewed all three of them on the Way of the Buffalo, so I might be a bit biased on this one, but I’m giving it a recommendation.

“Down, Set, Fight!” is available in print as a Graphic Novel, or as digital issues from Comixology.