Black Mask Studios 2016
Written by Kwanza Osajyefo
Designed by Tim Smith 3
Illustrated by Jamal Igle
Ink Assists by Robin Riggs
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
In a world that already fears and hates them--what if only black people had superpowers? After miraculously surviving being gunned down by police, a young man learns that he is part of the biggest lie in history. Now he must decide whether it’s safer to keep it a secret or if the truth will set him free.
Actually I am extremely impressed with this debut issue. I fully expect race to be a main focus of this series and I came into this knowing that but that Kwanza writes this so intelligently and with conviction and passion without cramming certain things, like the “N” word, down our throats proves you can write a meaningful powerful story without resorting to common tripe.
The opening is great with an officer being asked to go over the day’s events for this woman in a suit. It’s not nice as this section of town she patrols is known for its troubles and the other officers have a tendency to profile and mistake one for another not caring if they’ve got the right suspect. It’s harsh, frank and brutally honest but there’s also hope in officer Waters who isn’t like the rest showing that not all cops behave the same way. There’s strong characterisation here and it really across well thought out and executed.
One of the young men mistakenly stopped freaks out and runs resulting in a shootout by those cops assembled. Officer Waters tries to stop it but it’s too late. Kareem wakes up in the ambulance where both he and the EMT working on him freak out. I mean yeah I would too in that situation and what happens next well you to read the issue. From here on out we get something an explanation to what Kareem is going through and why. It’s an interesting premise to be honest and I find it fascinating. Gaining superpowers is due to a genetic anomaly found only in the genetic makeup of black folks.
The scientific explanation to the well let’s say not yet highly educated Kareem isn’t understood but it’s clear to the reader what they are saying. The promise of what’s to come is great kind of like the old days when the X-Men would find their own and bring them home to train and protect them from the outside world who feared and hated them. We see at least one version of those who’d either utilise them for their own purposes or dissect em to figure out how it really works, I haven’t seen enough of them to know for sure so the threat to them is real.
Jamal’s interiors are fantastic. I love the attention to detail he brings to this. He’s always had a strong eye for storytelling and his use of angles, perspective and backgrounds really help flesh out these characters and this world they live in. The use of page layouts to control the flow of the story is excellent. The black and white with gray tones is the perfect way to present this series in my humble opinion.
Intelligent, strong and well told with interesting characters, great characterisation and well done interiors make this a poignant and thought provoking debut.