|Art by Afua Richardson|
Via Pop Culture Zoo
Alexander, Hannibal, Napoleon, Patton. What if the greatest military mind of OUR generation was born in strife, surrounded by violence and combat since birth? When the gauntlet is dropped, the questions isn't "How did 17-year-old Destiny Ajaye unite the gangs of South Central into a killer army and declare war on the LAPD?" No, the question is, "Can anyone stop her?"
The last time I heard about Genius was in 2008, after it won Top Cow's Pilot Season, but I pretty much forgot about the series when nothing seemed to come of it. Even after it showed up on the shipping manifest for August 6, it didn't ring any bells, and it wasn't until one of my customers mentioned its Pilot Season win that it finally clicked.
And Genius does most definitely not disappoint. The artwork by Afua Richardson is gorgeous and dynamic, and Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman's story is probably one of the most engaging I've read since Saga. Although I'm not usually a fan of obvious exposition in literature, Destiny's rise to power - told through flashbacks over the narration of a detective who thinks she's a much older man - was so effectively done and spoke volumes about a very tough, calculating young woman willing to do whatever it takes to survive and bring her people freedom from oppression.
It also is important to note that the current cultural climate, where young black men and women are being shot down by fearful white people and police officers, could bring about something like this into reality. Speaking as a white person - because obviously my voice counts here (eye roll) - I would not blame anyone taking those actions at all. I am not a violent individual* and I don't condone anything like a full-scale war on the police/government/whatever; but I cannot judge. It's not my place.
And this is not my story to tell, despite my desire to do so**. I can imagine what it's like, put myself in Destiny's shoes, but my life can in no way compare to that of an African-American (or any minority, for that matter). I've never had anyone discriminate against me, fear me, because of the color of my skin. So I look forward to educating myself by reading stories like Genius. There is truth in fiction that cannot be discussed elsewhere.
Today sees the release of the third issue, and I have been chomping at the bit since I finished the last one. Destiny's war has begun, both successfully and not, and she's using every avenue available to her: the media, the police's incompetence and overconfidence, the entire collective of gangs in South Central L.A., the hope of those who depend on her, the skills of those closest to her, her own brilliance. It's truly a sight to behold, even as she stares down dissidents within the ranks. It's a shame that this is only a five-issue comic series, but I expect that we are going to see a hell of a lot more from the three creators of Genius. If we don't, it will be a sad, sad world, and you may see me incite a riot of epic proportions.
* I even feel bad when I jokingly threaten harm to anyone.
** This is part of the reason that my short story series, The Legion, is set in a fantasy world. My main character, Ren Winde, is a woman of color whose race is currently enslaved by a non-human species. Her identity - and one of the main storylines - is tied with this idea that, if she hadn't become a Legion, she would have become a slave. But this is not something that I would feel comfortable telling in a real-world setting, since my own life and experience is so far removed from such a notion.