Review: Black #1
*Warning Spoilers Below*
Black Mask Studios is at it again. This time, they are giving us pure fire in the form of their latest comic book, Black. The first issue of this comic book series throws some very real, modern situations into the mix. Writer Kwanza Osajyeffo serves up a story that is not only relatable but, hopeful and new. We are introduced to a new hero named Kareem, who possesses some very Luke Cage-esque super powers. He’s indestructible and he’s a recently shot black teen.
The story starts off with a late to the scene, but local, Bed Stuy cop named Ellen Waters being interrogated by what we can only assume are government operatives. This is a nice entrance point into the story because it shows the gravity of the situation. We are then thrown into the story and get to watch three black teens stopped by police for existing while black. Officer Waters is late to the scene and arrives in time for the aftermath, three black teens shot dead by overzealous officers. Except, Kareem doesn’t die. He escapes an ambulance with multiple bullet wounds.
Kareem takes odd running and is cornered by not only cops but, a mysterious man who tells him he can save him. He wakes up in a bedroom in Chicago. The mystery man from the building in Bed Stuy is nowhere to be found but, he stumbles upon a grandma shelling peas. This short scene is a brilliant touch. Almost every black person alive has a fond memory of shelling peas and talking with a grandma or aunt. It was a nice coded way of creating calm within the confused and distressed Kareem. It also signals to the reader that Kareem is in a safe space.
Kareem is then summoned to meet the mystery man who throws him off a building to test the limits of his powers before introducing him to the doctor and his new home and family. In Black‘s comic book world, a small portion of black people are born with a special kind of Quark that mutates them and gives them special powers. Because of this the government wants them dead, or used as an experiment or a weapon.
The story is solid, realistic and relatable. It’s an interesting take on a current social issue and adds an element of hope to a bleak comic book world with real world correlations. It is well written and tells the story from all available sides. Kwanza provides the reader with a nice starting point for what I am sure will be an interesting story as it unfolds. The issue serves as a nice jump-on point to introduce the characters and set up the world in which the story takes place.
Tim Smith 3 and Jamal Igle‘s black and white artwork adds to the story by providing a harsh backdrop to the harsh reality of the world in the comic book. It also makes the story read visually like a newspaper post and shows the weight of the story being told. The artistic choice in this issue was a very good one and the details in the panels, down to the hail of bullets that Kareem and his friends are gunned down in are just as much a part of the story as the words. The style reads somewhere between a police blotter and a news blog making it a perfect fit for the seriousness of the story being told and, the real world backdrop that provides the inspiration for the story.
Overall Black was a good read that can only expand on a smart, interesting premise and story. I look forward to seeing Black‘s world expand and finding out what Kareem does with his powers, what his new “family” wants him to fo with his powers and, what the government wants to do with the people who have the super powered multiquarks.
Story: Kwanza Osajyeffo Art: Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review