Now that we have entered the “Age of Ultron,” both major comic book publishers are merging their universes. These converging wars are an effort to realign their comic titles with the worlds that they have created in their movies and for DC Comics, one of their video games. I’m not sure what it is, but these efforts seem to fall short on good storytelling. Mostly the books seem to be violence for violence sake with nice art, on occasion. If you miss the days when you could find a nicely drawn book with an interesting story, other publishers like Image Comics and Valiant Entertainment have some really nice entries. And by chance, a few of them have Black people as lead characters in them!
A couple of weeks ago, my local comic book store featured David Gallaher, most recently the writer of the Green Lantern Corps Convergence books, for a signing event. David was talking about his love for Edgar Allen Poe, and the influence Poe, as the originator of the detective novel, had on his writing. Gallaher intimated that he saw the Green Lantern Corps as space detectives. While DC has done some okay stories with John Stewart in the Green Lantern Corps. It still feels like there is only one Black person at a time allowed in space, and in the infinite span that is the galaxy, the Earth is the only planet where brown-skinned people have evolved. In The Fuse, Antony Johnson (Wasteland, Daredevil:Season One, and the Dead Space video games) pairs with Justin Greenwood (Wasteland, Resurrection) to give us a nice detective story on an orbiting five-mile energy platform. Ralph Dietrich (yes, he’s Black) volunteers to go Midway City on the Fuse. He’s barely off the shuttle transport before he stumbles into the murder of a “cabler” – homeless man in space. This comic has been out for over a year (Issue 12 – April 29th). The first six issues – the Russian Shift – deal with a murder that threatens the powers that be in Midway City. I like that this comic has some depth, but not too much. I’ve found that some of the less superhero-ee books have so much dialogue, that you struggle to get to the end and then ignore the art along the way. Fortunately, that is not the case here. The art does further the story, but the colors by Shari Chankhamma (Sheltered, Kill Shakespeare) provide an interesting backdrop as the books are not bright and shiny. The dinginess really supports the storytelling, which is most evident with the coloring or lack thereof of Dietrich’s partner Klem Ristovych. So if you’re looking for a little mystery within a mystery, that is sort of Law and Order on Babylon 5, take a chance and check out The Fuse.
Like DC and Marvel it seems that Valiant may be looking to hit the reset button. And knowing that I am a sucker for pretty covers on a recommendation from my local store, I picked up issue 1 of Divinity (Matt Kindt-writer and Trevor Hairsine-Artist). So right off the bat the cover art for this mini-series is spectacularly beautiful (Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic, Tom Muller, Butch Guice & Tom Muller, and Lewis LaRosa). I’m not sure if they are painted, but if not, that makes them even more spectacular. I also recognize that some of what I am about to say is hypocritical. When I started reading the first issue, I had a real hard time with the premise. Like many I am fine with an alien from outer-space protecting the city of Metropolis, the United States, and the world from enemies, foreign, domestic and extraterrestrial. In this case, I had a real problem with the Soviet Union, during the Cold War, choosing Abram Adams, a Black man, as one of the first cosmonauts into space. But as I later found out, and for those of you of a similar mindset, it’s based on fact. Back in the late 70’s the Soviet Union had a space program that allowed the integration of non-Warsaw pact nations into the Soviet’s space program. In 1980, Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez traveled on the Soyuz 38 to the Salyut 6 space station, making him the first Latin-Black cosmonaut in space. But enough of the history lesson, in Divinity Abram Adams returns to Earth as this Beyonder-like character (see Marvel Super-Hero Secret Wars-1984). The issues focus on how he became this almost omnipotent god and the consequences of his ascendance. I liked this series, partially because I didn’t have to know the backstory of the various Valiant characters caught in the bow wave that is Divinity to understand what is going on. They story telling felt like at time some of the better man on Mars movies that came out in the 80’s and 90’s. Well hang on to your afro-puffs, let’s see where the wave takes us, Divinity II is due out this winter.
E.Angel is an engineer and holds a BS in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. She is in the process of finishing her first novel, Whistleblower, which deals with the danger of making decisions regarding technology based on politics. She’s a real nerd who loves all things Star Wars and Star Trek, and is an avid gamer. E.Angel can be reached at email@example.com or on either game platform as Bunnehs Sister.