Thursday, February 9, 2017


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. (April 2016)

Suggested for mature readers

Published by BOOM! Studios, 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).  In a publicity released, BOOM! Studios described this comic book as “a deeply personal passion project” and as 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 in April 1927.  This is the time that would become known as the “Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.”  As the story begins, the Mississippi River is rising, threatening to break open the levees and destroy Chatterlee, as it has already done to 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 #3 opens, the local Black community is beginning to see the arrival of the mysterious (and tall and muscular) Black man as a sign of divine intervention.  However, Sonny, the young “agitator” who gave the stranger the nickname, “Johnson,” has decided that he has had enough of White people:  kind, benign, and otherwise.  He decides that it is time to leave Chatterlee, but on the way out of town, he makes a shocking discovery.  Meanwhile, the impending disaster of the swelling Mississippi has not dampened the local Klan's desire to kill Black people and to destroy “Johnson.”

One of my all-time favorite novels is Stephen King's masterpiece, 'Salem's Lot (1975).  One of the elements of the plot that I thoroughly enjoyed is how the people of Jerusalem's Lot (or 'Salem's Lot, for short) blithely carry on their petty conflicts while darkness slowly envelopes their town.  That is Strange Fruit #3 in a nutshell.  Even the behemoth threat that is the flooding Mississippi River cannot completely draw people away from their mistrust and racial strife.

On the part of J.G. Jones and Mark Waid, this is truth in storytelling.  They convey the brutal strength and ugly power of hate with honesty.  Strange Fruit is not a screed against racism; rather it is an amazingly human tale that is genuine in its portrayal of the nature of man.

If that is not enough for you, Jones is still 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 last year and also of this year.  His depiction of the human face and its myriad expressiveness is a sight to behold.  The grace of the human in clothing and costume shines through even when the characters are being less than graceful.  Wow.

It has been almost half a year since issue #2 came out, and Strange Fruit is worth the wait.  It is only a shame that here is one issue left.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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