Growing up in an era where many of my peers were finding “knowledge of self,” many of our parents’ bookshelves were the first place we went looking. The music of Public Enemy and X-Clan reverberated in our Walkman on our way to and from school. They would talk about the “Asiatic Man” and the lies every person of color is seemingly force fed. It lead many of us to look at not the library but the books our parents kept for prosperity.
This was where I was introduced to the like of Chancellor Williams and Naim Akbar and countless African American scholars who made it their mission to tell those missing sections of the African diaspora. I remember when I picked up The Autobiography Of Malcolm X. The book had creases throughout as well as bent corners on a significant number of pages. It had the look of a well-read book. His speeches and whatever could be found of his writings stir up such strong emotions in anyone who is lucky enough to listen to him or even read it. In the debut issue from Black Belt Comics, Made In America: The FBI Files Of Malcolm X readers get an inside view of who the man was from those closest to him in a stirring story where he was a person of interest.
We’re taken to a room where the FBI under the guise of the NYPD is trying to turn a young man, Othello Washington into an FBI informant to spy on the Nation Of Islam. Fast forward a year later, and we are taken to Mosque No.7, the same one as Malcolm X, where a man had been beaten by the police propelling Malcolm X to call the Fruit Of Islam, the NOI’s security force to accompany Malcolm to the very precinct where he is being held to assess his condition. This, of course, is seen as a sign of aggression. It’s one that puts the NYPD on notice and pretty much has the whole city on their feet wondering how one man can have so much power. We fast forward four years later where his presence has garnered nationwide attention including J. Edgar Hoover. As Hoover sits in a war room of his close advisors, he looks to neutralize the civil rights movements as he looks on pictures of Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, and Martin Luther King Jr. Hoover decides the best course of action was to use considerable use of change agents to sever the relationship of Malcolm and Elijah. By issue’s end, Othello gets his orders to infiltrate the inner circle of the Nation Of Islam.
Overall, an excellent debut issue that revisits some key historical events in a seamless narrative. The story by Wayne Muhammad is well developed and well characterized. The art by the creative team is beautiful and vivid. Altogether, a story that depicts Malcolm’s story from multiple viewpoints which gives a greater appreciation of this iconoclast.
Story: Wayne Muhammad
Art: Michael Zaria, Martin Griffiths, Wayne Powell, Lee Townsend, Benjamin Wachenji and John Ross
Story: 10 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy