Genius #1 is the story of Destiny Ajaye and her rise to power in uniting all of the Los Angeles gangs against the Los Angeles Police Department. Writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman begin with a mixed message letter to a Brigadier General that not only identifies Destiny as the leader of the Los Angeles gangs but also refers to her as “Suspect Zero” the unknown leader that only one man, Detective Grey, believes exists. The letter is not really a letter at all, but appears to be a summary and lead-in to the ensuing pages of the book disguised as a letter.
Following the letter to the Brigadier General, Bernardin and Freeman set up a good comparison between how Destiny and her crew are preparing in contrast to the police. Destiny’s crew is stocking supplies, readying weapons, and resting while the police are scrambling, moving into assault mode without a plan, and sending in a desk jockey to figure out what exactly is going on. The two sides could not be further apart when it comes to organization.
However, the meat of the story does not begin until Detective Grey muses on how “Suspect Zero” rose to power through the ranks. The combination of Bernadin and Freeman’s writing with Afua Richardson’s visual portrayal is harmonious. They portray Destiny as a person who “will do anything to keep from getting noticed” through a simple multiple choice test where she erases Portugal and circles Germany to answer which country is not an Axis Power. It is extremely simple but conveys the powerful message of needing to fit in to survive. There is one panel where she discovers the game of chess and her face is superimposed over the board. The reader can tell she just gets it and her intellect for tactics will be hard to rival.
The police find out the hard way. Destiny deploys her troops wonderfully when the police move in. The way she is able to eliminate the police air support is exceptional and really shows how brilliant her tactical strategies are. Not only does she have an excellent tactical mind, but she is ruthless too. Richardson once again does a good job of presenting the reader with the visual, highlighting Destiny in red to portray her brutality. The red ribbon she uses on the page to connect Destiny to her victims is an added effect, symbolizing not only the bullets’ paths but also a trail of blood she leaves in her wake.
Not everything is rosy; there are some minor annoyances including what seems to be a recurring theme in opening books— multiple time jumps from the past to the present without any cues to let the reader know. There also seem to be some panels that are forced in to create a transition, but come off as awkward and out of place.
Bernardin, Freeman and Richardson have created a riveting story where the biggest question yet to be answered is can Detective Grey stop Destiny before the LAPD is wiped out?
An exhilarating story of a rise to power and a gang war against the LAPD make Destiny Ajaye one to keep your eye on.
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