Writer: Kwanza Osajyefo
Art: Jamal Igle & Robin Riggs
Tones: Sarah Stern
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: BLACK MASK STUDIOS (November 2016)
Kareem Jenkins, our lead who was shot up last issue, spends some time training under Juncture’s (guy who recruited him) tutelage. Yet, as Kareem is meeting others with powers like himself, he gets sent to New Orleans … in time to see a hate crime being done on an innocent young man … and see that shit is about to hit the fan.
Last issue, it was charming. Yet, now … it’s a bit of an issue. Juncture, we didn’t know his name was Juncture last issue until this issue. And while I found it charming last issue, the fact that we got to learn him name this issue by the recap. That was a bit off putting. The characterization is there. The personality is intriguing and charismatic. While this is a minor annoyance, Juncture is a big part and it just feels cheap that his name is not told throughout the entire first issue and is just printed in the recap. Also, it does seem like some of the other characters are in the background. And while it is cool that they are there, I would have enjoyed a bit more characterization. This is the only bad.
The Moment of the Issue:
I gotta admit that I loved the Kareem was talking down one of the new characters this issue … trying to be the voice of reason, while also using his fists.
Well… DAMMMNNN!! The issue definitely moved things along well. Black # 2 worked a quick, but compelling pace. Osajyefo pens a very gripping issue with a few twists, solid character development and deepening plot lines. Osajyefo does well to build a world around Kareem, allowing readers to journey through this world where black people have super powers. Kareem does get some very strong development this issue, not just in skills but in over all character. There definitely seems to be a hint of natural progression here. Months past within this issue and Kareem is both a lot more comfortable with his powers and allows himself to be human. It certainly makes Kareem relatable as a lead and Osajyefo uses this as a pillar to make readers feel invested in Kareem and his development. Osajyefo also plays with other characters within the title, deepening their characterizations a little bit as well, including Juncture, Detective Waters, Swerve and more. Particularly bold and sad was our introduction of the Project’s new prospect. Osajyefo weaves the super powered science fiction with hard reality of racism, political cover up and how people are subject to assaults and/or murder just because they have different skin or just being different. And that is something that really makes the book stand out. Racism is real and brutal. It’s not just the name calling. It’s the hazing. It’s the beatings and murders. And it’s wrong. Osajyefo makes that perfectly clear here in the pages and within Kareem’s dialogue later in the book. This just really enhances the book further.
Meanwhile, the art continues to be top notch. The black, greys and whites are used well in establishing mood and tone. Igle’s pencils are still among the best in the business today and this issue just displays that so effortlessly. Igle & Riggs clearly are loving what they are creating here, with some great perspectives and some stunning panel work. This issue, we got to see Kareem’s hair change three times alone this issue to signal the passage of time … yet it also gave some very minute changes in the body language of Kareem. That is something that most artist’s cannot get off well … showing a character’s development visually to the point where readers can notice a change in body language. This team also does a superb job during the battle later this issue, making the action feel hard hitting to go alongside the gravity of the situation. Igle & Riggs certainly hit the sweet spot in terms of art with Stern’s tones perfectly give every panel the right tones and shadows based on the characters, scene and mood. Superb work here.
Black # 2 dives into the harsh reality of racism by showing how race is affecting actions of the world today magnified by the elements of super powers add to one of the races. Osajyefo makes no apologies here with statements made on racism. He also uses Kareem to be the guide for readers to go through the world here. Osajyefo gives readers more of the other characters of this world as Detective Waters has not disappeared yet, Juncture is still being the leader of the Project while handling Kareem’s development and our big bad are make small, but impactful moves. The art is truly a splendor to behold. The lack of traditional color honestly helps the book more than hinders it, allowing the reader to have more control over what they are visualizing while also making a philosophical statement on color in the world. Igle, Riggs and Stern are impressive this issue as the art just continues to dazzle, invoke emotional reactions and grips readers into wanting more.