Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Add to your bookshelf: Genius Vol 1

Tomorrow, (May 27, 2015), marks the release date of "Genius," Vol 1, which collects the five issue mini series, (and "pilot" issue), of the story of a young Black teen named, Destiny Ajaye, who unifies all the gangs in South Central L.A. to fight against the police.

A Black female as the lead character in a comic-book would be enough to grab a headline, but this series was catching a lot of people's attention last year--when it first came out--because it was released during the time of grand protest and upheaval in Ferguson, Missouri.

In "Genius," Destiny is fighting against the police, after having witnessed the brutal murder of her parents by the LAPD; meanwhile, in real life, the people of Ferguson took to the streets, destroying property--especially police cars, after the local district attorney said that he would not press charges against the police officer who killed a young, unarmed, Black man.  (Coincidentally, this Vol 1 release comes right on the heels of another rebellion against police murder, this time in Baltimore).

The story in "Genius" is not perfect.  There are a lot of things a revolutionary would disapprove of:  For instance, Destiny is not using ideology to become a revolutionary leader; she actually ends up being the top dog in the gang underworld by sleeping with a top gang-member and killing many rivals.

She is also uniting gang members based mostly on revenge, not mostly on the idea of creating a better world.  (There is also a dialogue problem because I cringed every time I read something that sounded like it was coming from a Nuyorican in the Bronx, rather than a South Central Chicano).

Despite all this, I really like this story because it shows people actually fighting back against the police--in the only way they understand, and it's a story that tells us that there is potential for a kid in South Central to be a military genius.  One great thing I really liked about the character is her understanding that she also needs to win public opinion during the fight with the LAPD.

For anyone interested, you can download the pilot/preview issue for free and read it on your tablet or mobile device.

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