Writer: Kwanza Osajyefo
Art: Jamal Igle & Robin Riggs
Colors (Tones): Sarah Stern
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: BLACK MASK STUDIOS (October 2016)
With the temperament reflecting today’s current society were police are shooting unarmed black people, our comic starts with an investigation of a shooting of 3 young African Americans by police. And yes, the shooting was needless. Yet, there is one survivor as Kareem wakes up … healed from the bullets he took when police shot him and his two friends. Kareem wakes up on the run from police only to find out that he’s very special … that he and many African Americans are very special ….
The Moment of the Issue:
It’s the little things but I certainly like when Kareem’s powers are tested by the seemingly head of the Project off a skyscraper.
To say this book is a multi-layered, exquisite masterpiece would be an understatement. Osajyefo presents a very powerful script, keying in on the current plague of police brutality & murder on the African American community. Not only does he covey that particular issue with African Americans well with his smartly written script, he doesn’t over villainize the police. Besides a small group that wants to capture Kareem, the rest of the police seem to be following orders … but still show the temperament that the police have no issue shooting black people. It is a very real threat displayed with no real filters. It’s raw and powerful and how this story begins. Osajyefo does some great world building and characterization here as we learn of Kareem and the main plot of the series with a strong narrative. Osajyefo ties everything together well, creating a strong tapestry. The story weaves itself together well, switching narratives in a way that makes sense while making the focus on Kareem and the main selling point of the series.
From Kareem getting shot to escaping the police to being introduced to the Project … everything is done well. Normally, I would have an issue with characters that are not named in the first issue. Yet, the overall tone of The Project makes it important that readers don’t know who everyone’s name is right off the bat. Osajyefo definitely gives our main and supporting characters personalities, but also makes sure that there is a purposefully placed ambiguity to some of the characters to make readers understand them as analogs as well as deepen the readers’ attachment to the story. The Project is a secret to the world at large and people obviously want to know about it. Everyone not telling Kareem their names is only natural given the situation which is another testament to Osajyefo skill as a writer.
Meanwhile, Igle and Riggs make magic on the page. There’s a lot of crisp detail that comes from Igle that literally pops out of the page. Igle and Riggs render a world much like our own with clean lines and inks. The detail is wonderful because everyone looks and feels distinct when you look at them. To Officer Ellen to Kareem to police men hunting down Kareem to the head of the Project, Igle spares no expense is creating distinctively rich, detailed pages that give body language and high emotions. Riggs nicely inks a good chunk of the book well, bringing out Igle’s pencils with clean inks. Tones by Stern was an impressive and dynamic move. The book does not really have color but tones of black and white. Given the subject matter and the plot, it was an inspired move that should be applauded. The tones present the work in a great fashion, allowing readers to put their own spin on color, but makes a nice philosophical statement on color itself and how society today has been dealing with more absolutes.
BLACK # 1 makes some bold statements while giving readers a wild ride for an opening story. There’s action, intrigue, mystery and suspense as Osajyefo and company create a world that scarily mirrors reality. And this team does a wonderful job of showing us more than telling us the issues going on within the pages of the book. There’s a lot a of statements being made within this first issue on racism, police brutality on African Americans, the over all view of African Americans in society today and how our country has been operating. Black stands as an example of not only sequential art excellence, but a book that did not pull any punches, giving a rather accurate scope of reality. The concept is easy, but this creative team makes it so very special that there’s an empowering message for many people if readers are open to it. Certainly, this issue is a wonderful set up for what is to come while being both a tragic yet very honest mirror into society in America with the police and the African American community. This is how you start a book that should be required for everyone to read.