Writer: Kwanza Osajyefo
Artist: Jamal Igle
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Black #1 is a new series from Black Mask comics which explores the question of what if one day it was discovered that only black people got super powers, what would happen. In this opening book, three teenagers are approached by police in an all too familiar situation which results all of them being gunned down simply for fitting the description: Young, Black and Male.
One of them (Kareem Jenkins) miraculously recovers from his wounds and after being chased by cops manages to find his way to an organization that is searching for people just like him. He goes through a brief Matrix-like journey to discover that the organization (called The Project) that these people run is much greater than he realizes.
While I understand that most issue ones are sometimes ‘set up’ books, I felt so underwhelmed by the origin story being told. It doesn’t tread any new ground that the X-men haven’t done. While the premise of only one race having powers, is what brought me in, I wished there was more meat on this opening chapter. I mean, if you are going to walk the same old ground that has been done before, bring some kind of twist to it. Black failed to do that. It’s an origin story that we have seen many times before. Also, I felt that the book ended too abruptly after a member of The Project explains to Kareem how he wound up with these powers which essentially boils down to him being a mutant.
While I understand that Black Mask is an indie publisher, this is one comic where I felt like the art really could have used color. It’s almost tongue in cheek to have a book called Black, done by Black Mask studios, done in black and white. Jamal Igle’s work neither excited me nor disappointed but again, I really felt that my opinion could have changed if there was color. Another issue I had was that some of the expressions for some of the characters, including Kareem’s, were static and stiff.
Considering what is going in real life, Kwanza Osajyefo’s book comes along at a point where it will be cause for conversation among comic readers from all backgrounds. One would think that with the release of Luke Cage on Netflix that this book would be able to ride with that tide, but I could do with out this. The problem is that it’s so derivative of other stories told that it’s hard to see how it will set itself apart from everything else that’s already out there. This book has a very big chance to fall into a trap of being a Blaxploitation kind of a book as well if the story doesn’t separate itself from the pack.
I am willing to give it a chance, but I won’t be in a rush to get it.
2.5 mutants out of 5