Review: Black [AF]: America’s Sweetheart

Can a black woman be America’s first superhero?

Eli Franklin is a 15-year-old girl living in rural Montana–and she just happens to be the most powerful person on the planet.

In the aftermath of the world learning that only black people have superpowers, Eli makes her debut as the superhero Good Girl, on a mission to help people and quell the fear of empowered blacks.

When a super-terrorist threatens to take away everything Eli has worked toward, will donning a patriotic costume be enough for her to find acceptance?

If you’re unfamiliar with the world of Black, only Black individuals have superpowers and there’s been a conspiracy keeping that information hidden from the public. Launched as a limited series the concept shined as an exploration of racism, power structures, socio-political ramifications of a concept, all wrapped up in a nice what if?

Black [AF]: America’s Sweetheart spins off from that original series in a new graphic novel in a world where the truth is now known.

Writer Kwanza Osajyefo is back for this spin-off and explores what the truth means to the world as well as the impact to a government that has been covering up the truth. Osajyefo packs in a lot here focusing on Eli Franklin, an adopted girl who’s a little bit different and whose father works for the government. There’s a mix of conspiracy, Superman, and the original mini-series, and it works for a solid entertaining read.

There’s definitely faults here with some concepts not explored enough and some of the story being a bit choppy in the flow but overall, it’s a new spin on the Superman mythology.

What’s really fascinating is how far Osajyefo is willing to go in this spin-off to expand the world. No longer is this focused on Black individuals with superpowers but there’s also… well, I don’t want to ruin it but it has to do with Eli Franklin’s origin. There’s a lot to unpack there.

There’s also a lot to chew on in this volume. The politics are interesting, especially Eli Franklin, and adopted girl whose father works for the government who is behind this conspiracy. There’s other aspects to that adoption that are interesting and will get you thinking for some time. The politics here aren’t straightforward and like the first volume, a little muddled.

Jennifer Johnson‘s art is fantastic. It’s a departure from the original volume and fits the youthful nature of its protagonist Eli Franklin. That’s part of what I’ve really enjoyed about the series, the art has an energy about it that fits it really well. The character designs and action too are wonderful to look at with a great flow. There’s some slight issues where it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on but some of that is due to the choppiness of the storytelling.

While you might expect a black and white comic, there’s a whole lot of gray in this new volume which expands this world in some shocking ways. This is the first of numerous releases and has me excited to see what’s next and where it all goes. Fantastic concepts in a world I want to see more of.

Story: Kwanza Osajyefo Art: Jennifer Johnson Cover: Sho Murase
Story: 7.75 Art: 8.15 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review