I have to say I enjoyed the first issue of Black #1, which was a relief considering that I have a small financial interest in the success of the comic book. I was a Kickstarter investor in the comic book, which has since been picked up for publication by Black Mask Studios. As an investor I get to read digital copies of the comic early, and eventually will receive the graphic novel.
The comic book comes at an interesting time, when the police are being routinely criticized for unfair treatment of African Americans. The comic book itself seems to be a social commentary on these recent events. The story in fact begins with a case of mistaken identity and a shooting by the police. It also features a black main character.
Black #1 is an origin story issue and has a number of similarities to Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles.
- A Secret Society ✓
- A potentially messianic main character ✓
- A fearless leader who mentors the main character ✓
- The main character is thrown off of a building ✓
This comparison can also be made to the movie The Matrix as well (which as it happens was inspired by The Invisibles.) Although, there are similarities in regards to the origin of our main character and Neo, we connect it feels easier to connect to him. Mostly, because this story is dealing with very serious and politically polarizing issues.
In the world of Black, a small percentage of people with African descent have superpowers. The ones born with these powers are pursued by the government. In a way this comic is also very much an X-men story, only the individuals with the powers are all ethnically from the same background.
I have to say that I do like this comic, although I feel like I shouldn’t. Besides the obvious part about me being white, and white people also potentially being the villain in this series. There are some worn out tropes that are used.. In particular the idea of superpowered people beings at odds with the government. And that Kareem, the main character, has untapped abilities beyond other characters in his situation.
The most original thing that I could detect in Black #1 was the idea of the superpowers being ethnically derived. Yet, despite having these obvious reasons to maybe not really enjoy this comic I did.
Writer Kwanza Osajyefo does a good job. The dialogue is solid and the narrative of the story is really easy to follow. At no point was I ever confused about who said what, or had questions about how the story was progressing.
While the story is derivative of previous titles before it, it still manages to feel fresh.I think it is especially helpful that the story comes out at a time when a spotlight is being put on conflict between police and certain African American communities.
The art is done in a black and white style. Whether this was intentional or the result of the budget I’m not sure. However, the artwork looks good. Artist Jamal Igle seems very strong and detailed in his abilities. His artwork is good, but I didn’t find it the most visually appealing.
Igle has all the gifts to be an incredible artist. He can render everything in great technical realism. However, the technicality in some way lacks a certain amount of expressiveness I’ve come to enjoy in indie-comic titles.
His style is well suited for Marvel and DC comic books. However, it just isn’t visually arresting to me, and lacks that intangible “punk rock” vibe that some people seem to have.
Black #1 is good and has a strong political message. I look forward to reading more issues in the series. It seems to be in some ways derivative of other comic books and media; but manages to make it interesting by commenting on race relations between police and African Americans. It falters a little bit with the art since it lacks an indie vibe and style.
- Interesting social commentary
- Unique idea for superpowers
- Easy to follow narrative
- Art feels stiff
- Familiarity to other material i.e X-men, The Invisibles, The Matrix