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Graphic novel ‘Down. Set. Fight!’ sets up a strange new sports world

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J. Caleb Mozzocco

Three and a half stars

Down. Set. Fight! By Chris Sims, Chad Bowers and Scott Kowalchuk, Oni Press, $20.

What secrets hide beneath the oversized, fake fur and foam heads of professional sports mascots? Would you believe a cross-sports conspiracy, an underground gambling ring involving high-stakes athlete-versus-mascot fights? No? Then allow writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers and artist Scott Kowalchuk to convince you with their new graphic novel, Down. Set. Fight!

When Chuck Fairlane’s pro football career is cut short after he punches out the opposing team’s mascot, sparking the biggest brawl in pro sports history, he begins a new life as a high school football coach. All’s well until he’s suddenly targeted by vengeful mascots and an FBI investigation, and he’s forced to solve the mystery of this new and weird form of sports gambling. Before it’s over, Fairlane has to fight every single mascot in professional sports in the most spectacular—and violent—halftime show ever.

Kowalchuk’s straight but stylized, rather realistic art heightens the tension of Sims and Bowers’ silly premise, selling it with an all-in sincerity. You may never look at a mascot the same way again.

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