Friday, June 28, 2019

Review: BLACK: Widows and Orphans #1

BLACKMASK STUDIO – @blackmaskstudio @BLACKsuprppowrs

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY/PLOT: Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3 – @kwanzer
SCRIPT/DIALOGUE:  Kwanza Osajyefo
PENCILS/INKS: Tim Smith 3 – @TS3
COLORS/SHADES: Derwin Roberson
LETTERS/SFX: Dave Sharpe
EDITOR: Sarah Litt
COVER: Tim Smith 3
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (Diamond-FEB181179 – April 25, 2018)

Rated M/Mature

Black [AF] created by Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3

Black – also known as Black [AF] – is a six-issue comic book miniseries created by Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3.  It was first introduced to the public as a Kickstarter crowdfunding project seeking to raise $29,999, but ultimately raised almost $100,000.  Black is set in a world where only Black people have super-powers (called “Quarks”), and this world is suddenly and shockingly forced on Kareem Jenkins, who discovers that he is “empowered.”

Now, a second miniseries recently arrived and is entitled Black: Widows and Orphans.  It written by Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3; drawn by Smith 3; colored by Derwin Roberson; and lettered by Dave Sharpe.

Black: Widows and Orphans #1 opens as the first empowered U.S. senator is nearly assassinated by a ninja!  However, the empowered of the “Project” are there to stop it, but a revelation of what the assassin is delivers a shocker.  He is connected to the past of one of the Project's empowered, Anansi, who, as a child, was trained as a Ninja.

Anansi is on a mission to return to her former clan, “the Amime” and to learn what has become of what was once her family.  However, the Project's leader, Juncture, insists that Anansi take with her someone who can watch her back.  Now, Hoodrat finds herself following her mentor, Anansi, into the world of the ninja.

The original Black miniseries was published in black and white with toning, but Black: Widows and Orphans is in glorious full-color. Colorist Derwin Roberson delivers such vivid hues that I thought I was having a trippy experience while reading this first issue.  Roberson's color art here really goes a long way in not only making this miniseries distinct form the original, but also in selling the setting of this series as a world beyond the normal – beyond even the world of the Quarks and empowered.

I was so used to the original miniseries' artist, Jamal Igle, that I was initially somewhat put off by Tim Smith 3's quirky, anime-style art.  It was not long before I was seriously loving Smith's compositions and the kinetic feel of his graphical storytelling.  I also like that Smith 3 makes Black: Widows and Orphans distinct from the first series as a graphics package.

As usual, I enjoy the scriptwriting of Kwanza Osajyefo, who always makes his work something different from standard superhero comic book fare.  It is as if he is stubbornly eccentric and offbeat, but that is why I think that will help Black [AF] survive as a strong, superhero comic book of color.  Kwanza's words will make this story the kind of Black sci-fi that can weather the slings and arrows of outrageous comic book shop owners who don't want “blacks, homos, and freaking females” on the pecker-wood of their KKK store shelves.  And Dave Sharpe's sharp lettering assures that we can read every chocolate thunder word.

9 out of 10

[This comic book includes a preview of the comic book, The Wilds, by Vita Ayala and Emily Pearson from Black Mask Studio.]

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2018 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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