When I first reviewed Genius, it was right on the heels of the tragic and untimely death of unarmed teen Michael Brown. As I read Genius #1, I kept pondering about the very real implications of an out of touch police department–one viewed as corrupt–by the people it’s supposed to protect in future. Then it went down in a major way in Ferguson, and I kept seeing life imitate art in far too many ways. Genius #2 doesn’t slow down, and it will not spare readers’ feelings. There is a message here, and it’s an important one.
Destiny has gathered and riled her troops, former gangsters who’ve united under a common front, to rain hell on the Los Angeles Police Department. They give the cops and S.W.A.T. team no quarter, using explosives and a ruthless military strategy to entrap, and ultimately bring about as many casualties on her foes’ side as possible. She’s cold and calculated, and runs her outfit like any Army or Marine Corps. general would. While Destiny and her people put their foot up the LAPD’s ass, a well-planned social media and PR campaign is launched to help influence public opinion about the cops in her favor. Izzy, a parasitic news anchor finds Destiny’s PR videos, and decides to take a closer look on the ground to get a better scoop, but what she sees is a hundred times worse than any B-roll footage she could’ve wished for. This distresses the mayor and the chief of police greatly because it creates a grey area, where Destiny and her guerrillas come out in a more favorable light–as defenders of freedom, and protectors of a disenfranchised class.
Meanwhile, Detective Grey finds himself in a very precarious situation, as he’s left all alone in a veritable urban war zone in which he sticks out like a sore thumb. He does find out just a little bit more information about Destiny, but he will have to survive if he’s going to be able to use it. And despite a successful attack on the police, Destiny has to thwart the early stages of what could be a mutiny against her authority.
Reading Genius #2 was uncanny for me. I’ve been following the events in Ferguson, New York (Eric Garner), and Los Angeles (Ezell Ford) for the past few weeks, as most Americans have whether they are pro-police or anti-brutality. I’ve seen many sides to the media and the story it puts forth, especially the major networks that, just like in this issue of Genius, are craving a story and run with the one that is the most sensationalist. And then I wondered. What if the citizens in the aforementioned cities had created a PR campaign, and I mean a really top notch, well-oiled public relations machine to not only spread the message about the men who were killed, but their town, and their reality with police? Think about who has the resources to influence media, and that’s exactly what Genius #2 challenged me to do.
Artist Afua Richardson did a fantastic job creating an urban war zone that felt like it was plucked right out of a CNN telecast, while adding a film noir-esque feel. Writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman continue to raise the bar on the plot in Genius #2, simultaneously lampooning the media and imparting how vital it is to get one’s message out. The most important thing here is their impressive ability to write Destiny’s story/POV in a way that makes the reader really have to question if she is the bad guy here. It’s not that simple. But then again, war never is.