Review: Genius #1 Has Real-Life Implications

I have a ton of reviews to churn out, so I’m not going to be super verbose here.  But it is worth mentioning that I read Image Comics’ Genius #1 just a few days before the incident in Ferguson, Missouri that lead to the death of an unarmed teenager, and Gaza-level police occupation of that area.  I couldn’t help but wonder how close to reality Genius actually is.

Genius #1 tells the story of a young black woman named Destiny, but it’s actually told via narration by Detective Grey, the sleuth who’s been hunting her down not knowing that the gang mastermind he’s looking for is actually female.  From Grey’s point of view, “he” (Destiny) has been severely traumatized by seeing her parents in an abusive relationship, having to dumb herself down so as to not draw attention to herself, and witnessing tragedy at the hands of overzealous police.    This would push Destiny over the edge, and create the Genius that would launch brutal terrorist attacks on the L.A.P.D. that would make Al-Qaeda blush.

While he narrates his male-centered theory of how the Genius came to power, the comic depicts the actual reality of a girl turning into a woman who becomes a hustler who visualizes herself as the Queen on the chessboard of gangland life.  She dates gangsters, enticing them with her body, and sleeping with them, all the while she consolidates her power and knocks them off.

In the meantime, her people mount attacks on police with explosives and remain elusive because they’re underestimating Destiny and her mission.  It is through an indiscreet slip of the tongue by some poor kid whose home was raided by S.W.A.T. (it was the wrong house, by the way), that the detective discovers that he’s gotten it all wrong.

Here are the positives.  Genius #1 is raw and it’s gritty.  It is based on a very real problem and the very real potential consequences of a militarized police force with little to no oversight.  If it’s not taking place now, it most definitely will eventually unless changes are made.  Writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman tell an interesting story, and to be honest, I love how they made Grey underestimate Destiny, thinking her for a male.  Had he opened his mind, he might have discovered who was behind the attacks.  That’s a great lesson, whether on purpose or I’m reading too much into it, to glean from this comic.  I  also appreciate that Bernardin and Freeman made her a femme fatale who used all manner of strategies to get her way.

Artist Afua Richardson really shined the most bringing to life the flashbacks of Destiny’s childhood and ascent to power.  There are times when the art can appear almost cartoonish, and reminiscent of say The Proud Family cartoon series.   With that said, Richardson totally makes up for it with vibrant colors, like the cyan in Destiny’s friend’s jacket.  There was also one drawing of the gun moll absorbing what she could learn from chess that was amazingly well-done.  It’s like even her thoughts are advanced.

At first I wasn’t a major fan of the dialogue, but I got over that rather quickly because the story was more engrossing with each page.  The story is predictable, but that’s only because they’re setting it up for future issues.  I started unsure, and dare I say, a little uncomfortable, but by the end, I was really digging the characters and the story.

After the deaths and catastrophic injuries of  Michael Brown, Christopher Sean Harris, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant (whose death was the subject of Fruitvale Station), Amadou Diallo, John T. Williams, Andy Lopez, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones (who was just 7 years old when she died at the hands of police) to name a few, Genius is a game-changing comic, and a controversial one.  One that I’m looking forward to reading more of.

Speaking of Genius #2 comes out today, so expect my review of that later this week…