Friday, February 26, 2016


BOOM! Studios – @boomstudios

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITERS: J.G. Jones and Mark Waid
ARTIST: J.G. Jones
LETTERS: Deron Bennett
COVER: J.G. Jones
24pp, Colors, $3.99 U.S. (October 2015)

Suggested for mature readers

Strange Fruit is a four-issue comic book miniseries from comics creators, Mark Waid (Daredevil; Kingdom Come) and J.G. Jones (Wanted; Y: The Last Man).  According to publicity released by publisher BOOM! Studios, Strange Fruit is “a deeply personal passion project” and is a “provocative examination of the heroic myth confronting the themes of racism, cultural legacy, and human nature through a literary lens, drawing from Southern folklore and tradition.”

Strange Fruit is set in and around Chatterlee, Mississippi.  It is April 1927, during what would become known as the “Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.”  The Mississippi River is rising, threatening to break open the levees and destroy Chatterlee, after already washing away other “God-fearing” towns.  The race to shore up the levees is also threatening to break open the racial and social divisions of Chatterlee and the surrounding area.  Into this roiling situation, a mysterious Black man falls from the sky.

As Strange Fruit #2 opens, the mysterious (and tall and muscular) Black man enters Chatterlee, where he immediately scares all the White women and angers most of the White men.  Eventually, he finds residence in the town jail, where he is reunited with the agitatin' young Black man, Sonny, who has named the strapping mystery man, “Johnson.”  Meanwhile, another Black outsider believes that Johnson can save the town from the “mighty Mississippi.”

J.G. Jones is producing some of the most beautiful comic book art that I have ever seen, and until I see otherwise, I am calling his work on Strange Fruit the best of this year.  His cartooning of the human face is breathtaking, and his ability to give each and every character a different and unique face is something that is rare in comic books.  Jones' dexterity in portraying a variety of expressions, moods, emotions, etc. for each character further demonstrates that he is a master comic book artist and also a masterful graphical storyteller.

Overall, the series remains in a teasing mode about everything:  the mystery Black man, the missing boy, and especially some of the characters.  I wish this story settled on who the leads are, so that the narrative would seem a little less unsettled like the roiling river that threatens Chatterlee.  I'll toss those complaints aside for now because I cannot get enough of Jones and Waid's emerging masterpiece.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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