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God of Comics – Genius Cartel #3

God Of Comics, Reviews

October 13, 2017

Genius Cartel #3 (Image Comics)

And one of the most vicious political comics being published today continues to do its thing.

Destiny is a young African American woman with a gift for strategy and tactics, a genius who taught herself how to take over a country from the poor books left to rot in underfunded American ghettos. She learned the history of her people, how they were taken from their homes by ignorant and greedy savages and forced to work building a country they’ve been slaves in ever since, and she was more than a little angry.

Years before cops being a problem entered the public consciousness, writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman had Destiny fight the police who have been killing her people and ruining their lives for decades because that is what they are trained to do. Destiny has both the systematic racism and the oppressive sexism of the toxic culture around her to fight, and she’s doing it and winning using the tools that would be used to keep her in chains.

Here’s where things get even more interesting: at the end of the first series she surrendered. She did it knowing full well that her enemies should execute her but knowing that while American think tanks demonize her people and denigrate her sex, they also are used to seeing both as a commodity. She’s taken advantage of the fact that the American psyche is used to thinking of her race and sex as being of service to get what she wants.

And what does she want?

Simple access.

Destiny wanted access to the resources and information that both her gender and her skin color denied her in modern America. Because the white people around her thought they could take advantage of her skill and they could mollify her into compliance, they gave her what she wanted. They shuffled her off and away and put her through school with other hopefuls and were surprised when she didn’t perform as well as they wanted.

Now, they’ve secretly killed the one person she thought to be friends with and then sent her on her first field operation: they wanted her to take a team in and assassinate the leader of a drug cartel, but she knows that the same people thinking to command her are the ones that created the conditions that the cartels thrive in and the cartels themselves. The soldiers she was given were also not happy about taking orders from a teenage black girl, and things looked to go off the rails pretty quickly.

Right up until everyone remembered that Destiny was never working for some nebulous lie of an American ideal – she was working for herself and the betterment of her people. Her own research had shown her that the cartel was moving a host of women as part of a sex-trade operation and she’s decided she’s going to free them.

Problem is, she now has her own unit to contend with, in addition to the forces of the cartel and the American brain trust far from the frontlines that still think of her as their property. She’s fifteen thousand miles from the American border, looking to free herself and the slaves she’s rescued from the various forces that are circling her like vultures.

It’s an intriguing story with a lot going on and artist Rosi Kampe is doing an incredible job bringing it all to life. It’s impressive, given how busy and layered the story is, that she manages to capture all the nuance that this story needs to work. Destiny is hard, yes, but also young and vulnerable. The people around her are tough and fragile and working through their own desires, and Rosi manages to capture a sense of them in fine line work and careful color work.

This is one of our favorite stories going through comics right now. Pick it up and find out why.

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God of Comics – Genius Cartel #2

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 11, 2017

Genius Cartel #2 (Image Comics)

Funny story, depending upon who you talk to. Goes like this:

Conservatism and isolationism combined to cripple the world economy leading up to World War I and then straight through World War II, and it was the New Deal that started things moving again – new jobs and chances for life advancement, the American government investing in its people and creating the biggest economic boom and economy in the history of the world thereafter until conservatism and isolationism and xenophobia started dismantling those programs to fulfill a warped objectivist manifesto.

Thing is, the New Deal specifically did not allow African Americans to partake in it. Affirmative Action was literally allowing African-Americans to get into the deal that other Americans had enjoyed for decades at that point. Before that, of course, American had kept African slaves and the American South was so adamant about slavery that they based their whole economy on it and then betrayed America to keep slaves.

I bring this up because it’s important that people understand where African-American poverty comes from, an institutional process that strips away chances and dignity with unrelenting malice. Hell, a Nixon aid once noted that they produced an effective propaganda campaign to associate African-Americans with heroin, because they couldn’t make the former illegal but they did the latter, and they could arrest anyone associated with having the stuff.

Even those times that African-Americans managed to build themselves up in spite the systems around them, they saw their worlds destroyed. Look at what happened in Greenwood, OK. Look at what’s happening to black people as they’re murdered by cops for no reason and dubbed thugs by news media, despite video evidence showing the murdered to be innocent of any wrong-doing.

So, African-Americans are damned if they play by the rules and damned if they don’t. And that’s just one section of the people being mistreated by conservatism every single day. Some people have realized that if they’re going to get blamed for doing bad shit, they may as well do the bad shit and reap the rewards for doing so. After all, white corporate America does terrible things and they make fortunes doing it. Why shouldn’t everyone else get in on the act?

And that brings us to today’s comic, Genius Cartel. The conceit of the comic is that once every few generations, a military genius is born/ In the case of this comic, that genius is a young African-American woman by the name of Destiny. She united a ghetto and nearly took over a city, knowing that those she surrendered to would help her refine her studies and give her access to things she didn’t have and couldn’t get because of poverty and racism.

She was right. The idiots started refining her skill and think that they can manipulate her, which only goes to show that they have no idea what they’re dealing with.

It’s not that they’re dumb. The villains in this book are scary and as competent as they can be. The trouble is that they do not understand what Destiny is, and how her very presence changes the game all of them are playing. They killed her friend to try and keep her in line, and then offered her a carrot to offset the stick: she gets to lead a mission down south, into Mexico, to take out a drug cartel.

The cartels are only in power because the War on Drugs did for them what Prohibition did for the Mob. Anyone who studies this knows it, can trace it, understand it. Destiny certainly knows it, as do the people that think they control her – but it stands to reason that Destiny is considering her options and has more in common with the cartels than the people that seek to enslave her to their cause.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

Writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman are pulling no punches and have promised a fatal strike is coming, and we have every reason to believe them. There’s an intelligent viciousness to this narrative that is at once terrifying and true, a simmering fury touched upon that informs every page and word. Throw in the Rosi Kampe artwork and you’re looking at one of the best comics currently on the shelves. Do not miss this. It’s incredible.

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God of Comics – Genius: Cartel #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 17, 2017

Genius Cartel #1 (Image Comics)

Okay. So. Follow me on this. You’ll occasionally get a certain type of person that will say things like “You can’t abort those cells~! What if those cells grow up to be the doctor that cures cancer~?!?” or something along those lines. The corollary to their question has nothing to do with the cells but rather people; who is to say that the pregnant woman wouldn’t be the person to cure cancer but now she won’t because she got assaulted and pregnant or isn’t ready for a baby and now is stuck with one or about a billion other similar questions?

Following that train of logic, what if the cells (once they become a baby) do have the capacity to cure cancer? What happens when that baby is thrown into a world where they are unwanted and neglected, or given to parents that are unable to provide the education and environment that child needs to do that one specific thing? They’re not likely to be able to cure much of anything once they’re riddled with student debt or indoctrinated into a conservative mindset or otherwise crippled by Republican anti-science values.

A few years back, Image Comics published a comic that started looked at this, though not in the way you might be thinking. Genius posits that every generation or so, a mind is fostered on the cradle of humanity that possesses an advanced understanding of strategy and tactics. This is the tale of a young African-American woman named Destiny who was born with that gift but condemned to the poor ghettos that litter America, a result of decades of neglect and abuse fostered on an entire nation.

Using her gifts, she was previously able to unite the warring factions in South Central and waged war on the local cops, using military tactics and basically making the police look like idiots dressed up with military hardware. The military was called in and Destiny was defeated, although the implication was that Destiny threw the fight.

See, she knew that her enemies couldn’t resist the chance to use her intelligence and talent for their own gain, so instead of killing her they convicted her and threw her in a military prison for gifted youngsters. Their hope is to raise her in their image. Her goal is much more straightforward: she wants to learn everything they can teach her because the resources she had at her disposal were not enough to get her what she wanted.

The original mini-series was controversial and brutal, writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman pulling no punches as they took a look at the gangland two dozen years of neoliberalism and Reagenomics fostered, on top of the two centuries or so of casual racism that hobbled a whole subset of American citizens. They then applied a chosen one to that modern hellscape and turned her loose, letting artist Afua Richardson out to play.

Afua’s not back for this installment; Rosi Kampe is taking over and if you’re not familiar with her artwork from her stint on Unknown Lands or Destiny, NY, well, you’re in for a treat. Her artwork is bloody gorgeous, and I’ve got the sense we’ll get to see plenty of blood before this tale is done.

Do not miss this. It’s going to be awesome.

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