Black Mask Studios 2021
Written by Kwanza Osajyefo
Pencilled by Jamal Igle
Inks by Juan Castro
Tones by Derwin Roberson
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
President Mann continues to position his son Thaddeus’ FIRST SON armor as a program to countermeasure the growing empowered Black population. Juncture deploys King Squad to spy on them at a celebrity gala, but an overzealous X crashes the party, costing the team dearly. Special appearance by Eli Franklin from AMERICA’S SWEETHEART!
I have to say in this day and age this is as powerful as storytelling can possibly get. Seriously this is as emotionally and racially charged as we see in the United States right now and it’s crazy that this could be so profound and so poignant and leave such a massive impact upon the reader. Not only that but this is also just fun to read as well. Kwanza does such an amazing job balancing the superhero story with the political aspect and touches of humour, dark humour and regular, to keep this feeling too heavy. Also the guest stars we see are great and add a human touch to the story that I wasn’t expecting to see but grounding in a sense of reality is a very, very smart move in my opinion.
I am genuinely impressed with the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is impeccably rendered. The character development that we see through the dialogue, the character interaction as well as how they act and react to the situations and circumstances which they encounter really fleshes these characters out magnificently. The pacing is superb and as it takes us through the pages revealing the story we are drawn into this in some extremely strong ways.
I am super impressed with the way this is being structured and how the layers within the story continue to emerge, grow, evolve and strengthen. With how the characterisation, the plot twists and so much more that we see happening here adds this great depth, dimension and complexity to the story. Also I really appreciate the way the sarcasm is depicted here, it really does make a difference so bravo to Dave for that. How we see everything working together to create the story’s ebb & flow as well as how it moves the story forward is achieved perfectly.
The interiors here are insanely good, mindbogglingly brilliant even. Kudos for keeping this a black & white book because it helps the work stand out even more. The linework is exceptional and how we see the varying weights and techniques being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work is astounding. That the pencils and inks are so in sync you’d never know it wasn’t done by the same person. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows a brilliant eye for storytelling. I love the work we see here and it is so well done and the three of them really went for it here and made what I consider some of the best work in comics right now.
There is something about this that should make someone uncomfortable but with the way that it’s told, like it mirrors the world we live in now, it has the right kind of impact and that’s pretty incredible from a readers’ standpoint. I cannot get over or stress enough just how well this book is on the whole, from the writing and characterisation to these utterly brilliant interiors the story takes centre stage like it should. The nonapologetic manner in which the story is being told should be what we talk about as it is one of the more brutally honest looks at pure storytelling in a world we know all too well.