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?
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.