There are a lot of comic book genres and getting away from the commercial success of the super-hero titles can be a risk. The appeal of the super-hero comics for girls can be attributed to the story that a regular guy or gal experiences some life altering occurrence and has to find the balance between these newfound responsibilities while just getting by. The Spider-Man comics is one of my favorites. After all the spectacular powers and beautiful women, he struggles to finish college, hold a job, and hold his relationship together. You know, life stuff. But Peter Parker learns the hard way after the death of his uncle that with great power comes great responsibility. The idea of a greater responsibility to others is the universal truth that transcends.
Among my various issues of spider-somebody and x-folks, I try to support efforts in representing life from other than the majority communities perspective. In Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander’s Concrete Park R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Dark Horse Originals), you are presented with the idea of survival. Crashed on a distant world, Isaac Clay finds himself in the middle of a gang war. Luca, one of the gang leaders, finds him and introduces him to the dynamics of Scare City. There is a sweetness to Luca’s efforts to protect her people. I wish that there was something also redeeming or uplifting with her or Issac’s struggles in Scare City. The cover of the first issue appears to include a group of folks with an intense Latina, covered in splotches of blood, flashing a gang sign. The comic is boldly drawn and inked with authentic-looking men and women of color — including a green guy. The story presents a glimpse into the dynamics of urban gang life: Someone kills someone else. They vow revenge. Then another person tries to kill someone else. You know the story. Unfortunately, too many of us live this story.
As a black woman, I hope that eventually our lives will remove the shackles of merely surviving and return to the potential of old, where we were the builders of some of the greatest and most majestic civilizations on Earth. Our artistry and intelligence built pyramids that have endured for thousands of years across the continent of Africa. This title, thus far, has an engaging story, but the idea that in our future (or a version of the future), minorities are still fighting gang wars on a distant planet, really doesn’t give me much hope… and still I rise.
From Boom! Studios, Marguerite Bennett (Logan’s Legacy, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin) gives an adaptation of the Fox Television series Sleepy Hollow. For those of you who watch Sleepy Hollow, Bennett has done a really great job of capturing the complicated comical banter that comes from a man out of time with the looming reality of a great evil bringing hell to Earth via the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, that makes the show such a joy. It’s nice to have a comic with a black female in the lead. Lt. Abbie Mills, along with the recently resurrected Ichabod Crane, are destined as the “two witnesses” that stand between the world and the Apocalypse.
However, I wish that someone could figure out how to represent a black woman, that actually looks like a black woman. From issue to issue, Lt. Abbie Mills (portrayed by Nicole Beharie) looks like a tanned Caucasian, and occasionally an Asian woman. And let’s not talk about her hair! With the full spectrum of colors available, why is it so difficult to draw and ink a petite, vertically-challenged, weave-flinging black woman? Despite the artistic challenge common to the comic book world, the first two comics in the limited series are stand-alone stories, that don’t require you to have watched the television series to understand what is going on to enjoy.
Now if you’re looking for a well-drawn, well-written comic with black people in it, do I have a limited series for you. From Top Cow and Image, Marc Bernardin (writer on an episode of Alphas) and Adam Freeman, may I present Genius. This five-issue series ran this summer. Set in Los Angeles, the story centers on Destiny Ajaye, a 17-year-old tactical genius, who uses her intellect (among other things) to get what she thinks her community deserves. What I love about this title is that this isn’t another poor, little black girl trying to escape her circumstances. With no super-powers or magic, she steps into her civic responsibility and organizes her community to fight for themselves. But make no mistake, Destiny’s rise to power was on the backs, or more accurately, the bodies of the other gangs. Naturally her ascension garners too much attention and results in the police doing what they do best. Destiny knows this too and adjusts accordingly.
I like the intelligence that Destiny shows; not just of how to survive in her neighborhood, but a real understanding and leveraging of her power as an intelligent black woman in the larger world. The twists and turns, especially in issues #3 and #4 will have you going “no they didn’t!” The great writing makes this series feel like a really great episode of your favorite action show, and for those of us who like to see us in a comic, Afua Richardson can really render our lusciousness and curves. Pure genius.
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.