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Top Cow Announces Genius: Cartel

From writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman and rising-star artist Rosi Kampe, comes a sequel series that promises to set Destiny’s world—and ours—ablaze in Genius: Cartel. The five-issue story arc is set to launch from Top Cow this August.

In Genius: Cartel, 17-year-old Destiny Ajaye took on the LAPD in her South Central Siege and paid for it—not with her life, but with her freedom. Now, Destiny is sequestered in the Madrasa Institute, a government school for prodigies. But will she use her gifts to wage war at the military’s behest—or is she already planning another revolution?

Genius: Cartel #1 (Diamond Code JUN170655) hits stores on Wednesday, August 16th. The final order cutoff date for retailers is Monday, July 24th.

The Ballad of Destiny Ajaye: The Full Tilt of “Genius”

destiny 1When art imitates life, it often draws comparisons, that no one saw coming, it usually lives in metaphor and allegory, but in most scenarios, never in direct comparison. So with what has come to the surface in the last two years on the national news, and the reemergence of Marc Bernardin’s, Adam Freeman’s and Afua Richardson’s Genius, a comic from Image Comic and Top Cow’s highly touted Pilot Season, from 2008, I saw it as just a matter of time, as the overt and institutional racism that people of a deeper melanin have faced and continued to face in the world , especially in America, the world and the media could no longer turn a blind eye to.

As the names of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and many others have flooded the public consciousness, police killings and brutality and institutional racism against black people and other minorities as well as barriers of economic disadvantage can no longer be ignored, and is taken to another level in Genius.

destiny 4I must admit when I first read about the book’s premise, I immediately made instant comparisons to Sam Greenlee’s seminal classic The Spook who Sat by the Door, but by the time finished reading the first issue, I found myself comparing it to not only that but also to Ender’s Game, as I found an anti hero, that was not only the best hope for her neighborhood but for her people.

There are several touchstones throughout the book that not only raised my eyes but had me cheering for Destiny by the end of the book although her plan did yield the much desired results. The first thing that Destiny does to change the narrative of how things have been in her neighborhood, is to realize that the system , in which she has been marginalized, has never been in her favor, nor will ever work for her as the great Bell Hooks, once said,” being oppressed means the absence of choices,” as the reader soon finds out just how the system that surrounds Destiny and most people of color, is an unjust one, as the reader is introduced to the events in Destiny’s life, has lead her to this point, as she was just a powder keg, waiting to go off.

destiny 5This is why the Black Lives Matter movement in America, has touched so many people all over the world, regardless of race, age and economic standing, as it is difficult to ignore the disparities, as many politicians often run on it, but many mostly never affect it. This is why Bruce Lee’s film classic, Fists of Fury, still resonates today, as the way the Chinese were treated by the Japanese on their own soil, to say at the very least, despicable. Reading those panels , actually gave me flashbacks, to things I experienced growing up, to times and events, that has shaped how I view people, how I interact with people who are different from me and how I deal with racism.

Unfortunately for my daughters, they had to find out just how different it is for them as well versus other kids of their same age, with more advantages, as they ran into roadblocks at an early age, actually when they were 7, which forced them to mature faster, than I would have liked, instead of having a normal childhood, much like what Destiny experienced, minus the gang life. Destiny, decides that her neighborhood, was no longer America, that in order for the system to work for her people was to secede from America, it was the three blocks of her neighborhood, and the gangs that inhabit the neighborhood, which she unites, something that actually happened in Baltimore. Something I don’t know if it would actually work, which immediately brought me to the militia occupation of a wildlife reserve in Oregon, as the question has been posed, if the militia members were black, would it be as peaceful? In fact, I think it might have gone the way of the way of the Wounded Knee Incident. This also reminded me of the series finale of Dark Angel, which if it continued on for another season, I think would turn out just like Genius.

destiny 7The other touchstone that affected me while reading it, is that she openly started a war against the police, in fact, shooting LAPD in broad daylight, something that is very much incendiary in real life, but reminded me of King of New York , in which the character, Frank White, starts a war against the NYPD, something that becomes fatal for Frank but becomes revolutionary for Destiny, where she sees that violence is the only way to affect change.

This brings me back to the character of Destiny, a very influential one, with excellent supporting characters, and an antagonist, Detective Reginald Grey, equal in wits, within this power play, who very much reminds me of Fox Mulder in X-Files. Destiny Ajaiye is equal parts Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, but a good part Hannibal as well.

She is also very much a villain, as she very much believes that what she is doing is right, much like Dexter, who rationalizes his killings, as he kills only bad people, the same way Destiny, only kills those who she believes are harming her people. Another aspect of Destiny that I admired was that she is a natural born leader, one who inspires, as she brought a whole neighborhood and all the gangs in LA together, something I quite cannot say Batman has ever done, or could do, as she is something missing today, that past generations have had, a leader who attempts to speak for marginalized voices, something that Spike Lee sought to contextualize in the character of Lysistrata in Chiraq . I lastly undeniably must compare her to Malcolm X, not only the real life figure, but the one that Denzel Washington portrayed in celluloid, which brings me to that scene in the movie, where Malcolm visits that one man in the hospital, while the Fruit of Islam, stands outside in formation, in front of the police station:

destiny 10

The one where the the police chief , played by late great Peter Boyle, said:

That’s too much power for one man to have

But I remember watching an interview with Spike Lee, during the making of the movie, where he said he should rewritten that line to read:

That’s too much power for a black man to have.

That would had more of an impact, as Genius absolutely has had one me and other readers, as I believe it is definitely one the best books, not only comic book, but book, period, to speak of this turmoil that is part of the fabric of our country’s soul, as it is no mistake that from the initial issue in 2008, and the continuation of the story, in 2015, seven years later, the message and the issues contained within the story are still the same…. progress needs to actually happen.

Preview: Rampage Jackson: Street Soldier, Vol. 1

Rampage Jackson: Street Soldier, Vol. 1

Fabian Nicieza, Mike Baron, Barbara Kesel, Tom Peyer, Martin Pasko, Adam Beechen, Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, Lucas Werneck (w) • Leonardo Romero, Fabiano Neves (a) • Dan Panosian (c)

Rampage Jackson has touched the lives of millions, and when one of them reaches out for help against a terrible threat, he swings into action. With astonishing new super powers and his faithful dog, Andronicus, by his side, he must prepare for bone crunching throw downs in over-the-top adventures! An anthology of amazing self-contained stories, Rampage Jackson: Street Soldier marks the beginning of a bold new era of superhero fun!

TPB • FC • $17.99 • 144 pages • ISBN: 978-1-63140-379-8

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Preview: Rampage Jackson: Street Soldier Vol. 1

RAMPAGE JACKSON: STREET SOLDIER, VOL. 1

by Fabian Nicieza, Mike Baron, Barbara Kesel, Tom Peyer, Martin Pasko, Adam Beechen, Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman, illo. by Leonardo Romero, Fabiano Neves
Pages: 144
Format: Paperback
SRP: $17.99
Trim: 6.625 x 10.25
Publisher: Lion Forge Comics
Distributor: IDW Publishing
Pub Date: October 28, 2015
Diamond Item Code: AUG150459
ISBN: 978-1-63140-379-8

Larger-than-life MMA fighter Rampage Jackson faces his toughest opponents yet in this super-powered slug-fest; and this time the stakes are much higher than a championship belt!

Rampage Jackson has touched the lives of millions, and when one of them reaches out for help against a terrible threat, he swings into action. Rampage is different this time; with astonishing new super powers and his faithful dog, Andronicus, by his side, he must prepare for bone-crunching throwdowns in over-the-top adventures that take him around the world, to other worlds, and through time itself! An anthology of amazing self-contained stories, Rampage Jackson: Street Soldier marks the beginning of a bold new era of superhero fun!

LionForge-Rampage1_COV

Review: Airwolf: Airstrikes TPB

airwolf_airstrikesI can honestly say that growing up in the 1980s, was a real treat, for nerds everywhere as we were exposed to some of the best and the most innovative entertainment. The reverberations of my generation can still be felt in all mediums of entertainment , as shows like The Goldbergs, stands as a testament to just how influential , the popular culture of the era was and still is. The era was also filled with more action heroes than one can count on one hand, as I remembered many great TV shows like Fall Guy, A-Team and Knight Rider, had heroes that every kid in America wanted to be and urged our parents to buy their action figures. Then there were TV shows, that were truly unsung, until years later, when retro loving sites such as AV Club, gives it, it’s just due.

I can think of many TV shows, that fit this category, and yet to find it under any spotlight such as Stingray and the original Denzel Washington –less Equalizer. Another TV show, which I remembered that fits this category, and actually exceeded the expectations of its less than stellar movie counterparts, was Airwolf. The show surrounded a high tech military helicopter and the crew that supported it, as I remember people synopsizing it as “Knight Rider with propellers.” The show was more than that , it was spy craft with tons of action usually in high stake situations, and spoke very much of the times, as America was involved in the Cold War.

IDW has continued the missions of Airwolf, in its comic series, and to extremely interesting results, and none which were good. I came into reading this collection, hoping IDW would continue their string of successes in nostalgia comics, but this one falls flat on its face. This collection reintroduces you to the characters from the TV show as well as to new characters to bring it up to date. Sad to say, this collection comes off as no more than “a bad guy of the week” series as not one story I can talk truly of note.

Overall, I came into the trade paperback, hoping to relive the adventures of Stringfellow Hawke and rest of the Airwolf crew, and their struggles with the Firm, and felt seriously cheated, having met a poor copycat. The stories by Mike Baron, Jeff Mariotte, Marc Andreyko, Barbara Kesel, Rob Worley, Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman, were very much well intentioned but uninspired. The art by Jean Froes and Fabiano Neves, were probably the only highlight, but paired with the average stories contributed, diminishes their contributions. Altogether, IDW and the talented team, on this project, should have seriously construed their plans, as execution is always key, as this serves as a perfect example of when it is poorly done.

Story: Mike Baron, Jeff Mariotte, Marc Andreyko, Barbara Kesel, Rob Worley, Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman Art: Jean Froes and Fabiano Neves
Story: 3 Art: 7 Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Airwolf Airstrikes, Vol. 1

Airwolf Airstrikes, Vol. 1

Mike Baron, Jeff Mariotte, Marc Andreyko, Barbara Kesel, Rob Worley, Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman (w) • Jean Froes, Fabiano Neves (a) • Billy King (c)

Hawke, Santini, and the coolest attack chopper ever made are back in this epic reimagining of the hit TV classic! Airwolf, the nuclear-powered helicopter, is featured in this blistering anthology of stand-alone thrillers that redefines the classic for a new generation!

TPB • FC • $17.99 • 144 pages • ISBN: 978-1-63140-315-6

airwolf_airstrikes

Preview: Genius #5

Genius #5

Story By: Adam Freeman
Story By: Marc Bernardin
Art By: Afua Richardson
Cover By: Afua Richardson
Price: $3.99
Diamond ID: JUN140482
Published: August 27, 2014

GENIUS: ISSUES 1-5, WEEKLY THROUGHOUT AUGUST The Winner of Top Cow’s Pilot Season makes its triumphant return to print! What if the greatest military mind of our generation was born to a people who are already supremely conditioned to wage war, who know nothing but violence since birth, and must continually adapt to new predators in order to survive? What if the second coming of Alexander the Great, of Genghis Khan, of Napoleon, of Patton…what if it was a teenaged girl from South Central, L.A. named Destiny? And what if she decides to secede three blocks of the ‘Hood from the Union? Who is going to take it back from her and her army of gangbangers? Who CAN? From writers MARC BERNARDIN and ADAM FREEMAN (Alphas, X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler, The Authority, The Highwaymen) and rising-star artist AFUA RICHARDSON comes a harrowing, action-packed tale of a city that declares war on a brilliant young woman pushed to the edge.

Genius05_Cover

Preview: Genius #4

Genius #4

Story By: Adam Freeman
Story By: Marc Bernardin
Art By: Afua Richardson
Cover By: Afua Richardson
Price: $3.99
Diamond ID: JUN140481
Published: August 27, 2014

GENIUS: ISSUES 1-5, WEEKLY THROUGHOUT AUGUST The Winner of Top Cow’s Pilot Season makes its triumphant return to print! What if the greatest military mind of our generation was born to a people who are already supremely conditioned to wage war, who know nothing but violence since birth, and must continually adapt to new predators in order to survive? What if the second coming of Alexander the Great, of Genghis Khan, of Napoleon, of Patton…what if it was a teenaged girl from South Central, L.A. named Destiny? And what if she decides to secede three blocks of the ‘Hood from the Union? Who is going to take it back from her and her army of gangbangers? Who CAN? From writers MARC BERNARDIN and ADAM FREEMAN (Alphas, X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler, The Authority, The Highwaymen) and rising-star artist AFUA RICHARDSON comes a harrowing, action-packed tale of a city that declares war on a brilliant young woman pushed to the edge.

Genius04_Cover

Preview: Genius #3

Genius #3

Story By: Adam Freeman
Story By: Marc Bernardin
Art By: Afua Richardson
Cover By: Afua Richardson
Price: $3.99
Diamond ID: JUN140480
Published: August 20, 2014

GENIUS: ISSUES 1-5, WEEKLY THROUGHOUT AUGUST The Winner of Top Cow’s Pilot Season makes its triumphant return to print! What if the greatest military mind of our generation was born to a people who are already supremely conditioned to wage war, who know nothing but violence since birth, and must continually adapt to new predators in order to survive? What if the second coming of Alexander the Great, of Genghis Khan, of Napoleon, of Patton…what if it was a teenaged girl from South Central, L.A. named Destiny? And what if she decides to secede three blocks of the ‘Hood from the Union? Who is going to take it back from her and her army of gangbangers? Who CAN? From writers MARC BERNARDIN and ADAM FREEMAN (Alphas, X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler, The Authority, The Highwaymen) and rising-star artist AFUA RICHARDSON comes a harrowing, action-packed tale of a city that declares war on a brilliant young woman pushed to the edge.

Genius03_Cover

Preview: Genius #2

Genius #2

Story By: Adam Freeman
Story By: Marc Bernardin
Art By: Afua Richardson
Cover By: Afua Richardson
Price: $3.99
Diamond ID: JUN140479
Published: August 13, 2014

GENIUS: ISSUES 1-5, WEEKLY THROUGHOUT AUGUST The Winner of Top Cow’s Pilot Season makes its triumphant return to print! What if the greatest military mind of our generation was born to a people who are already supremely conditioned to wage war, who know nothing but violence since birth, and must continually adapt to new predators in order to survive? What if the second coming of Alexander the Great, of Genghis Khan, of Napoleon, of Patton…what if it was a teenaged girl from South Central, L.A. named Destiny? And what if she decides to secede three blocks of the ‘Hood from the Union? Who is going to take it back from her and her army of gangbangers? Who CAN? From writers MARC BERNARDIN and ADAM FREEMAN (Alphas, X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler, The Authority, The Highwaymen) and rising-star artist AFUA RICHARDSON comes a harrowing, action-packed tale of a city that declares war on a brilliant young woman pushed to the edge.

Genius02_Cover

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