The core mantra of boxers is fists up, chin down, and knives out. Well, at least it is for Scott Nathans, boxer by day, and vigilante by night. Scott is the man known as Switchblade, a defender of the defenseless in New Orleans and the eponymous character of the Switchblade comic.
Switchblade is a classic vigilante origin story but with a splash of sports drama that ties into the core plot. Just because Scott Nathans has picked up the hobby of giving villains a gruesome end doesn’t mean he’s given up his life as a boxer, or the rivalries that come with it.
We’re first introduced to Scott Nathans in an action-packed opening as he hunts down two child predators that the jury let off. That’s also when we first see Scott use his infamous switchblade. The weapon that earned him his name.
Of course, vigilante justice is a crime itself. Enter detectives Rob and Sid. The two were tasked with finding Switchblade and bringing him to heel. The citizens of New Orleans, however, are grateful for the speedy removal of the scum terrorizing their city. The detectives are without any leads and there never seem to be any witnesses. Their job gets more confounded once dismembered bodies start popping up. These aren’t clean kills with a blade, and they don’t have criminal records. The m.o. doesn’t match Switchblade and that last thing the police want is two killers out in the city.
Scott’s life as a boxer also gets more interesting when a mysterious and skilled boxer starts training at the same gym as him. The gym’s owner, Simon, is essentially Scott’s adoptive father so he’s unlikely to pass the limelight onto this new fighter. After a few sparring matches, this new fighter, Don, gives the impression that he may be the strongest fighter there. After he brutalizes a few of the other boxers and shares some smack talk with Scott, a rivalry begins to form. One that transcends just the ring.
It’s not long after Scott’s first kills that detectives Rob and Sid receive a report of a missing fourteen-year-old boy. At the same, the butchered bodies send ripples through the ranks at Simon’s gym causing a stir among the longtime members and Don, the new arrival. As these events unfold, Scott, Don, and the detectives all set on a collision course with each other, that is sure to end with someone dead.
What stands out in Switchblade is that drama unfolds both in the world of masked crusaders at the same as in the ring and the way it ties together. As Switchblade, Scott tries to uncover the recent killings and child abductions. As himself, Scott develops enters into a rivalry with Don to prove he can’t come in and pick on the other boxers. When the predator’s identity is revealed both stories intertwine in a way that leads to a unique fusion of sports-drama and comic hero action.
Another element that gets explored rather well throughout is the moral dilemma faced by the detectives. They know that a person cannot take the law into their own hands and kill criminals who get off easy, but also that the system allows for those criminals to get off even after their wrongdoing is universally acknowledged. Rob and Sid are forced to confront their own beliefs on if the system of Switchblade is doing more good for the city.
If you like vigilantes heroes, boxing, and seeing the two be put together in a way that makes both integral to the story this is the book for you. Switchblade is a classic brawling hero but exploring the heart and skill required to be a good fighter.
Switchblade was written by Roland Mann who needs no qualifiers. Known for Cat & Mouse, Demon’s Tails, Trumps, Krey, a laundry list of more titles, running Silverline, and inspiring students.
Leonard Kirk penciled Switchblade (1-2). Leonard is known for such titles as Planet of the Apes, Galaxina, Dinosaurs for Hire, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Chuck Bordell also provided art for Switchblade (1-3). Chuck’s work can also be seen in Sirens, Marauder, and Silverstorm.
David Rowe provided inks.
Brad Thomte lettered the series. He is also known for lettering Scarybook, Marauder, and Silverstorm.