Way back in the bad old days of 2008, I read a comic called Genius. It was part of Top Cow’s Pilot Season program, an initiative meant to bring new blood into the industry and to the company, and it was created by Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, and Afua Richardson. Now, it’s 2014, I work at Image Comics, andGenius is on the way back this August as a weekly miniseries.
The concept of Genius struck me first. There have been several incredible military leaders throughout the years, and the latest is Destiny Ajaye, a young woman from South Central. Rather than becoming a kingpin or joining the military, she takes another route: armed insurrection. She unites the gangs and goes to war against the LAPD.
I’m an ’80s baby whose life was changed by Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and has spent a lot of time writing about the intersection of black culture and comics. The concept alone spoke to me, it reminded me of conversations and boasts that felt familiar and real. Bernardin and Freeman’s dialogue was on point and natural, authentically “black” without tipping over into parody or offensiveness. Richardson’s art was the bomb, inventive and kinetic and off-beat in all the right ways.
Genius hit me in my heart. There aren’t a lot of comics coming out of mainstream houses aimed at people like me, much less specifically me, but this one? It’s a comic that’s tailor-made for me, it feels like. The concept, the art, the focus on a majority-black and brown cast…there is something about Geniusthat other mainstream comics are lacking. It’s something different, something outside of the usual Direct Market experience.
It’s a familiar story, a Hero versus the enemy with an army at her back, but the twist is in the character work and the artwork. The characters feel familiar and honest, and Richardson’s artwork ranges from staging natural moments in a surreal manner to perfectly-emotive conversations. The creative team clicks for me.
A side effect of my job at Image is that I got issues 1-4 early as part of the production process. It’s work, but I read them while I was on vacation instead of waiting until I got back. I read them because I believe in Genius and Bernardin and Richardson and Freeman and I’m excited for this comic.
Final Order Cut-off for the comic is Monday. It’s shipping weekly in August, with two issues hitting on the last Wednesday of the month. If you shop at comic shops, tell them you want it. The Diamond Code for #1 is JUN140478, if you need it. Pre-ordering helps comics a lot, and for a book like this that’s sitting left-of-center with what’s prevalent, you’re going to need a little extra legwork to get what you need. You don’t have to pre-order it, it’ll presumably be available in a digital edition, but if you’re the pre-ordering type and you trust my taste, please call your shop and hook it up. I’m a fan, and I hope you will be, too.
My wife loves history documentaries. Specifically ancient civilization docs. She falls asleep to them every night — they’re interesting enough to keep her mildly engaged, but the voice over is like a lullaby.
However, it doesn’t put me to sleep and I have watched my share of them. Some are fascinating — Battles BC, in which military historians examine famous conflicts, is my jam — others are banal.
But I’ve never been as insulted, as a person of both intelligence and color, as I am by Ancient Aliens.
Perhaps you flipped past it. Basically, it’s a show that posits that extraterrestrials have visited Earth more than once, thousands of years ago, and interacted with humans. Which, whatever.
Where it gets unsettling is when it decides that there’s no possible way — other than with the help of aliens — that Egyptians could’ve built the pyramids. Or that the Mayans could’ve designed their calendars.
According to the talking heads on this show, there is no way that brown people could’ve done these things. And it’s astonishing, the lengths to which Ancient Aliens' “experts” will go to flat out deny the ingenuity of Africans, or South Americans, or Polynesians.
Worse, the show itself never calls these people on their bullshit.
The missus fell asleep to an episode that literally called natural selection on the mat. Its morons wondered why early man lost its ape-like hair, only to have to don furs in colder climates. It’s as if they couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that the first men lived in Africa and when they stepped out of the jungles and onto the plains, they didn’t need the hair. By the time man expanded — expanded — to the European and Asian north, they’d evolved out of the need for fur.
Rather than believe that everyone is black, they’d rather believe that aliens monkeyed with our DNA. Rather than believe that ancient peoples were more advanced than the Europeans barely crawling out of the mud, they’d rather believe that aliens built everything.
Endemic, systemic, right under our noses, coated in the shiny veneer of “educational programming.”