Blaxploitation was one of those genres growing up that I only heard about in passing, as most of those movies I was not able to see until I was a teenager. When I did discover it, one of the first movies I saw was Hammer. Fred Williamson’s screen presence was more than stoic, it was a new standard of cool. I would go on to watch that movies several times, and several more of films, including Black Caesar.
As I delved more into the genre and started going through the many films were produced during this era, in many ways, they were not only trying to imitate the success of Hammer but also the emulate the appeal of the character. MGM even adapted the Shaft book series, which provided a far denser canvas than what has been put on celluloid, as David Walker’s miniseries at Dynamite, best captured the complexity of the character. What both of these movie franchises provided, was showing the that people of color, especially black men, can be action heroes. In Jim Rugg’s and Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac, they provided hero of the same mold, in what is a love letter to the genre.
In the first tale, “Shockocon”, Afrodisiac, whose real name is Alan Deasler, and works as a janitor, but is a hero during the day, is captured by his arch nemesis, the Shocker. He easily escapes Shocker’s goons who happen to be female assassins, by simply charming them. In the second tale, “She Came from Venus” an alien ship touches down in Wilkesborough, his city, and out comes an attractive alien, who hypnotizes every man she encounters, except for Afrodisiac, and ultimately turns on the tables on, President Nixon. In” Sting! Stang!”, he foils a CIA operation to capture him, by seducing the agent. In “Punch Card Preach”, he must fight his way through a research lab while undergoing multiple mind tricks and menacing minions. In” It’s Not the Size of The God in the Fight”, he gets into a fight with Hercules ad beat him into submission. In “Night of the Monster Cockroach”, he fights a kaiju sized monster and saves the girl. In “Death for the Afrodisiac”, he finds out that Death is a woman and he saves a bank from a KKK sniper. In “Out for Blood, Sucker”, He takes on Dracula in a no holds barred fight. In the final adventure,” Fallout”, a fight with his last villain leads him to seek a new life and reinvent himself.
Overall, a fun set of stories that captures the era, that is both a parody ad love letter to this lauded era of movies and music. The stories by Brian Maruca are very tongue in cheek, never taking itself too seriously but taking on the sociopolitical issues of the time. The art by Jim Rugg is like a capsule in time, as it is very much true to the era. Altogether, a book that will take you back in many ways and that is a great thing.
Story: Brian Maruca Art: Jim Rugg
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy