Review: Black #2

black-2In a world that already hates and fears 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.

I read Black #2 before the election results this past Tuesday and the issue’s social commentary is as relevant then as it is now. Black #2 is an example of the entertainment we need, not just because it shifts the narrative away from the white superhero, but also because it touches upon issues that we need to think about as readers. Entertainment is supposed to entertain, but it also has a role in reflecting society and challenging those who consume it. Black does exactly that and then some.

The concept is simple, that African-Americans have super powers and it’s a secret that’s been kept for some time. There’s numerous levels the comic works on and the commentary and issues it brings up are both at the surface of this issue and also a bit more subtle.

The comic as a whole has a theme about presentation and what we allow the public to see and what we don’t. It’s an interesting take on “acting white” or “code-switching” based on who you’re around. We see that in the difference of opinions within the comic of allowing the “white” world see that Black individuals have these abilities while others want to keep it quiet thinking it’ll protect them. It’s interesting and nuanced in some ways with different opinions presented and no clear answer given. It reflects very real debates going forward about conforming to a “white standard” in things. This issue takes it a step further introducing a Transgender character which further complicates the politics of it all, especially since even within the Black community there’s issues when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community. Thankfully Osajyefo, Smith 3, and Igle don’t hold back displaying the ignorance of our main character. That complicated discussion, a minority within a minority within a minority, challenges the reader to reflect on their status in many ways and think about the outsiders within their own community. That’s the more subtle aspects of the comic, the discussion of identity and how we present to others.

Then there’s the in your face aspects of it.

The comic straight up deals with a lynching as the cover of the comic shows. The situation presented isn’t anything particularly new, we’ve seen it with the X-Men, but it involves a super power going off and causing damage, but also some straight up racists killing African-Americans. It’s raw, unflinching, in your face, and needed. Especially as we ponder the future of our nation (and a world) where racism is emboldened and out in the open in a way we haven’t seen in some time.

And in that way the comic itself creates an interesting duality. There’s the in your face nature of the events within (and presented in an amazing cover by Khary Randolph) and the more subtle politics behind the scene. It reflects the real world in a way that’s often missed in writing. Kudos to Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, and Jamal Igle for understanding that and making it a part of the reading experience.

While some may have been disappointed in the debut issue, I think this second issue shows this is a series that’s much smarter and deeper than it may seem. It definitely is meant to shock in some ways, but it also speaks a truth that’s rare and not sugar coated.

I enjoyed the first issue, but this second issue has me excited to see what comes next and ponder the layered nature of it all.

Story: Kwanza Osajyefo Designed: Tim Smith 3 Art: Jamal Igle
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy