Tagged: Kwanza Osajyefo

Comic Book Review: Black #3 Continues The Conversation…

I just checked out issue #3 of Black Mask’s controversial new series “Black” which tells a unique superhero story where only black people have superhuman powers. I’ve been pretty intrigued with the series so far & it’s interesting spin on the superhero genre. The series is produced by an all black team focusing on the continual racial tensions rising in our country. It tackles some tough scenarios where blacks are brutally abused and killed by white people and with all the media focus these days covering the racial divides this book fits in nicely with the current conversation that has been finally addressed and put into the mainstream.

That being said so far each issue has had a very similar theme and the tone of the book is dark and clearly angry. It reminds me a bit of the vibe that the X-men once had as mutants dealt with discrimination from the public who feared their superhuman powers and differences from “normal” humans. Issue #3 continues the story of an evil corporation looking to exploit the the superhuman powers of the teams main character by way of tissue sample. It makes you face some things you might not want to address normally in a comic and it’s likely going to start conversation in the comic book world amongst readers of all skin colors. So far I find it a solid read with some pretty sweet artwork to boot.
Continue reading

Comic Book Review: Black #2

Issue #2 of Black Mask’s new series ‘Black’ was one I’d been looking forward to checking out. The premise of the book thus far is that black people are discovered to possess superhuman powers and which are unique only to them. We’ve got a story from issue number one that seems ripped from today’s headlines as three innocent black teenagers are attacked by corrupt cops. When one one of the wounded teens figure out he’s got superhuman powers he escapes the police and meets a mysterious man who promises to train him hone his unique abilities.

Issue #2 follows the main character Kareem as he’s being trained how to fight by his new allies and soon he sets off on his first mission in New Orleans. A bit of a nod to the X-men. The story continues to show some truly vile white red necks as they attempt to kill a black man by burning him alive in the woods. But remember, some people possess super powers and soon the white trash have got some serious problems on their hands when Kareem and his crew arrive. The man who’s to be burned becomes the burner. That’s not all though they’re also being followed by powerful secret Gov’t agents who’re intent on capturing them. Yeah they show up too. I’m enjoying this series so far, it goes the distance perhaps a bit far with the consistent theme of racism throughout the first two issues. It tries really hard to pull heartstrings.  I liked how the first issue kicked off as it felt pretty damn relevant but by issue number two the racism showcased again seemed a bit forced. I hope that this series is not only and just a continuous series of horrendous racist events occurring to the black characters. I expected of course this team to be tackling this serious problem but so far it’s come on pretty strong.

 

I think it’s important for this series to have something to say about the real life issues people are facing but I hope every issue isn’t always focusing on this. It could be coincidence that this issue features extreme life threatening racism once again & we’ll see what the next issue holds. I’d like to see the story tackle these issues of racism but I’d also like to see our characters experience different threats in their adversaries for different reasons. I don’t feel every issue needs to cover the topic of race, unless that is indeed the sole purpose of this book. Now that’s not to say that the book doesn’t feature some positive non-black characters, it definitely does and I dig the offbeat idea of once race developing powers. It’s a cool twist and certainly empowering -I hope they bring about some truly memorable black super heroes from this book.

I’m hoping issue #3 branches out a bit more and sprinkles the racism about in a more believable manner. A good example would be the Luke Cage Netflix series which handles the issues pretty gracefully without feeling forced. I’m not sure every central character needs to have his origin buried in a racist act. The second issue brings some pretty decent solid artwork back along with a simplistic easy to follow story. That being said I do feel that this issue is bit to quick of a read. We get a lot of big panels with pretty minimal dialogue which with new comics means it takes about five minutes to read.  Also we get a pretty shocking cover sure to raise some eyebrows. Anyway I’ll be around to check out issue #3 to see exactly where this story is all headed. Overall a unique series thus far worth picking up if you’re looking for something a bit different from the average super hero tale… 

 

Comic Book Review: The Skeptics & Black #1

The Skeptics #1 (Black Mask)

I just read the debut issue for the new Black Mask series “The Skeptics” and was quite pleased with this sweet little intro to a thus far promising retro adventure. Brought to you by Tini Howard and Devaki Neogi we’ve got a solid story of two teenagers during the Cold War era that are brought in by the US government to test for paranormal abilities. There’s a claim made by the Soviets that they’ve got a new breed of soldier in the works, ones with intense psychic abilities. But is it just a hoax to scare us Americans during those tense times? Either way it doesn’t matter because of course the US is determined to find people with similar unique abilities here in our own country to face off with the Soviets.

Well all just is not what it seems when Mary and Maxwell are brought in for testing, for unknown reasons these two have figured out a way to to trick the scientists and even the President into believing they’ve got telekinetic abilities. The President claims they’re the key to stopping World War 3 but it seems there’s more going on than meets the eye. The two young “psychics” quickly decide to take matters into their own hands when they realize that perhaps it’s not a hoax. The Soviets may indeed be harboring people with superhuman abilities. 

I had a pretty fun time with the first issue, it’s really simplistic, pure story telling with some decent artwork as well. It’s a refreshing break from all of the ultra edgy stuff being cranked out these days, I’ll check out issue number two and see just where this all goes but either way the debut is worth a look if you’re looking for something a little different.

 

Black #1 (Black Mask)

Here’s another decent debut issue that finds it’s plot ripped from the media headlines. It’s a story about police corruption and racism in America with a superhero twist. We’ve got corrupt white cops who shoot down three black teens who’ve done nothing wrong in broad daylight on the streets of the inner city. Sound familiar?

Well things get more interesting when one of the teens who’s presumed dead awakens alive and well in the ambulance on the way to the hospital with seemingly superhuman energy and endurance. On the run from the cops he meets a Morpheus like character (from the movie The Matrix) who helps him to safety and soon it’s revealed that people do indeed exist on this planet with superhuman powers….except only those who are black can have them. This like The Skeptics is also a pretty quick and simple read with an  interesting spin on the superhero genre. This idea spun out of a Kickstarter campaign and was soon picked up by Black Mask. The art adds to the experience as it’s really well drawn and in black and white.

The writing for this by Kwanza Osajyefo is solid yet at the same time a bit on the predictable side. Starting out with a fairly popular view point being, corrupt cops are running rampant and they kill black people for no apparent reason. I think it’s fair to say from most of the news stories we’ve heard reported on point to this similar scenario. So we’ve definitely got a story here thats basis is controversial and hotly debated. I can already see people being upset about the race issue presented here, it is indeed written to get a response from white readers and continue the much needed dialogue about racial tension today. I think however it’s not much really of a different concept than say “Y The Last Man” yet this comic’s timing probably is the most controversial aspect of it.

Overall I dig it, the idea of just one race being graced with superpowers is an odd angle but given the recent headlines this one’s certain to make some waves. It’s also written & drawn by an all black team as the above The Skeptics is an all female team. So we’re getting a lot more projects out there now that are created with race appropriate and gender appropriate teams attached. It I guess raises questions about whether or not it’s ok in modern times to have people writing books that aren’t of the same gender or race of the characters in the book? This topic alone has become somewhat of an issue lately for movies, books and tv shows. I’m still under the belief that at the end of the day in works of fiction, in a free society none of that needs to really be micro-analyzed. So therefore I welcome anyone to bring a unique story to the table no matter what their race, gender, sexuality or association may be. With that being said I’m curious to see where the story of “Black” ultimately goes. I’ll be back for a second issue…