(AfroGamers.com) Image an Earth not much different from ours, in the same time period as ours, where the only people with superpowers is a portion of the Black population. Would things be much different? If you were one of those few what would you do with those powers?
BLACK is a comic from the minds of Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3 that tackles these questions and a slew of problems. It got its start as a Kickstarter campaign and blasted through with over $91,000–over three times its original goal. It would debut in October 2016 on the Black Mask imprint. The story is centered on Kareem Jenkins, a Black youth who escapes the fate of many Black men in America when its revealed he has special powers. His powers and the problems that come with them escalate through the comic’s six issue run.
A Bulletproof Black Man
Kareem’s story starts in Bed-Stuy where Officer Waters gets word of three Black suspects fleeing a crime scene. While she is a cop, she knows the area and knows what tends to happen in these cases. Waters heads off in the direction of the sighting as two other officers do the same. Kareem and his friends are going to play basketball when the police arrive and immediately stop them, guns drawn. The three hesitate in this instance and just as Waters rolls up to smooth over the situation, they are gunned down when one of Kareem’s friends attempts to run.
This would be the end of Kareem’s story except he awakens in the back of an ambulance. Patched up and shocked, he escapes only to find the ambulance tailed by a number of police cars. He manages to flee past the police escort but Officer Waters gives chase. She would eventually lose him but Kareem’s still be hunted by forces that have taken an interest in him already.
“Come With Me If You Want to Live”
Kareem runs into a man named Marshal who knows of what happened to him and that a clandestine organization is after him. This is stuff Kareem isn’t even aware of since he believes the police are still hounding him. Marshal gives him a choice to join him and let his team cover their escape or he can try to deal with the heavily armed group making its way towards them. Kareem takes his chances with Marshal and a group of Black people with superpowers comes in to combat this group of hunters.
Our protagonist awakens some time later to find he is at location in Chicago. Marshal tells him that his group is called The Project and their goal is to rescue Black people with extraordinary abilities. Kareem is one of those who shows a ton of potential being indestructible. It is explained that superhumans are born with extra quarks that this is something that exists only in Black people and only a percentage. While the first known superhuman appeared during the 15th century, its believed they’ve been around longer.
That said, there is still a lot unknown which is why The Project exists. There’s a group fronted by the Mann Corporation that experiments and dissects Blacks to find out about their powers. The end goal is both weaponization of those powers and further subjugation. Since its unknown which people are born with these powers or when they manifest, all Black people are under attack. The Project aims to keep knowledge that only Black people have powers under wraps to protect everyone.
Kareem readily joins The Project and in his four months of training its revealed that his powers not only improve but he’s rapidly developing other powers. His powers are many so we’ll just call it high adaptability. He is added to the field team and it is after his first mission where he has a crisis of ideology with The Project.
BLACK has it all: a strong story, great artwork, its relevant to the times, and the lore is explained in a way that everything isn’t bogged down. It moves fast but not too fast. The obvious comparison after six issues is that it’s a 2010s version of the X-Men down to two close leaders being on different sides the coin when it comes to protecting their people. Marshal and his son O are basically Xavier and Magneto and Kareem–codename X–is the ultimate wildcard since his powers are probably infinite.
The only fault I can find with BLACK was that it was only six issues long. Luckily, the team spun the series off into the BLACK [AF] comics. So, should you pick up BLACK? Of course! It’s a short read but an incredible one!
Rating: 10/10 (The Seal of Dopeness)
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.