Black Mask Studios 2016
Written by Kwanza Osajyefo
Designs by Tim Smith 3
Illustrated by Jamal Igle
Art Assists by Steven Walker
Inked by Robin Riggs
Tones by Sarah Stern
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
In a case of mistaken identity, Kareem Jenkins, a young black man, is shot by police but somehow survives. Pursued by government agents, Kareem is saved by Juncture, leader of a secret group that helps people like himself. It is from Juncture that Kareem learns…only black people have superpowers.
This issue takes place a few months after the end of the first issue. We see the Detective from the first issue who was trying to stop the shooting as she keeps looking into the missing Kareem. From there we see Kareem as he’s been with Juncture and that secret group training in the use of his powers. Yes it’s an intense three month period where he’s learning about himself and what he can do.
Like in most instances Kareem is special and his power set unlike most others they’ve seen. So after his intensive training he’s allowed out to go on a mission with a team. It’s here that Kareem gets his first look outside the insular world he’s been living in. While I applaud the inclusion of a transgender individual, male to female, it’s what comes next during their mission that kind of goes into not for the squeamish territory.
The kind of language and situation that the subject they are after finds themself in is well extremely racially violent. A modern day lynching scenario where he’s going to be burned alive by a bunch of white rednecks. It’s hard to read about it, not only because of the sheer ignorance captured by the men involved but because of it’s nature. We’d like to think we live in a better world than this but lately that myth has been more than dispelled. Then there’s the government involvement in all this. That mysterious group on the hunt for Kareem as well. They all find themselves at a crossroads here and one that demonstrates the kid of world they are all in and it’s one that Kareem couldn’t have imagined.
The characterisation is strong and powerful. Equally as so is the work that Jamal brings to this visually. The attention to detail here is fantastic! I’ve known Jamal is a talented artist and this work just goes above and beyond what i’ve come to expect from him The use of page layouts through angles, perspective and the use of backgrounds are amazingly well done. He really brings emotion to life here through facial expressions and body language. Also the way he’s able to demonstrate the use of powers is impressive.
This is a good solid and hard to read story. There are aspects that people may not want to deal with or like but are important nonetheless. Kareem’s ability to think outside the norm of those he’s with is also an important factor here, his views of the whole thing are nice to see and set him apart from what we expect rather nicely.
I look forward to seeing how the Detective and Kareem’s paths cross again, and they will. This is a strongly written and powerfully crafted story that challenge how you think and feel.