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  1. #1
    Screams Eternally Duskman's Avatar
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    Sep 2014
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    Default Thoughts on Black (the comic)

    Yeah, it's like a year old, but I only just got around to reading it.

    Contrary to what some might consider the popular opinion, Black is certainly not the worst comic ever made. The art is mostly good, with a solid use of a black, white, and shades of grey format. Story wise, it feels pretty much like a generic X-Men template, with the added element of racial tension. If you are able to just accept the lore of the book in the context of it's own universe, instead of knee-jerking over it because you hate SJWs or whatever, then it at least has an interesting conspiracy plot for its fictional universe. It's the sort of thing you'd typically see in a cheezy superhero comics. Of course, the comic is marketed under the context of a political statement, so perhaps one can't really just look at the work separate from that. And that's where a lot of the protest seems to come from, hating it because it's very existence is meant to be a message.

    However, taken as its own entity, one shouldn't just give it a free pass just because of its political context. That said, the comic isn't really that bad, it just isn't that great, either. The bad guys are incredibly one note, and it does fall into a rather simplified world view of "black people's problems are due to white people being scared of their powers," which, okay, real world politics aside, if we're accepting that that's just the lore of this particular universe, leaving it at that is part of what makes it feel more schlocky as a comic book plot, despite the rather grim plot.

    Still, at least there is some intellectual conflict presented between the two rival super groups as far as how to deal with the problem of the villains. It wasn't just as one-sided in tone as escaped slaves skirmishing with the KKK, both factions had understandable reasons for their separate approaches. The ending was not a clean win for either, but a sort of forced compromise with the potential for lots of consequences to be explored. Overall, this makes for a decent set-up for a long-term series, but closes off the chapter well enough that this could function as a stand-alone story.

    The dialogue wasn't great, but it wasn't any more terrible than your standard action movie. Which, okay, your standard action movie isn't Shakespeare by any stretch, but it doesn't have to be, because its usually competent enough to get the story told, and that's about the level the script is at. Now some people say the dialogue is terrible because a lot of characters notably talk in "black urban dialect." I'm not gunna lie, I also found that really distracting at first, but I don't think that inherently makes the dialogue worse, because it makes sense in context. I mean, real people actually talk like that, and it's an easy shorthand to note the sort of culture or background characters come from, same as you would giving a foreign character an accent.

    One last thing that I think did make the comic a rougher read was the constant introduction of new characters. The author had a lot of cool character ideas, but most of them end up being grunt soldiers, introduced whole teams at a time, with barely the chance to get to know them. With only 6 issues to work with, it was smart to keep the story focused on just the few characters who really drove the plot, but at times it got hard to keep track of who was who and remember who was on what side at times.

    I'm not sure who I'd recommend the comic for. Taken as its own entity, it's a fairly generic hero story. In the greater political context, some are going to give it praise for it's cultural commentary, or damn it for the same reason. I'd say give it a look if you're just curious as to the premise, and try not to come in with a bias. Then again, this being marketed as a political statement of sorts, coming in without a bias may not be possible, or may even miss the point.

    What do you think?

  2. #2

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    This is the book that got me into black mask.Read it when it first came out and loved it

  3. #3
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    May 2018
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    The art is pretty nice, I'll agree with that, but as a whole I found the story mostly... boring, especially when compared to some of the other fantastic books Black Mask has put out (We Can Never Go Home, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, Space Riders, Quantum Teens etc).

    My main problem with the book was that it had way too many characters and groups, and ultimately I just got lost following it. I couldn't tell one group of revolutionaries from another group of revolutionaries, and ultimately forgot who the hell I was supposed to be rooting for. I'm probably going to reread and reevaluate it later, but that was most of my initial reaction.

    I'd find it hard to feel strongly about this story. Mostly its just a pretty solid tale of superpowered societies. Its not particularly interesting or compelling, but its not *bad*. The social commentary isn't particularly extreme, once you get over its premise, but it also isn't especially interesting either

    Mostly the story just is. I'm glad other people like it, but I feel like most people's opinions on it are WAY too far one way or the other than they would be if the political climate

    Does anyone know if Black AF is any better? I'm aware that this is one of the first books that the creative team have done, so I'm open to checking out more of their work if it improves

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