How is it that a mini series that was conceived six years ago can actually be a stunningly accurate mirror of this week’s events in Ferguson, MO, where the shooting of an unarmed black teen led to days of police action that looked like something out of a Christopher Nolan Batman movie?
Could it be that the issues of race, inequality and violence that Genius deals with are so important that they were just as clear six years ago?
Published by Top Cow, Genius is written by Mark Bernadin and Adam Freeman and drawn by Afua Richardson. Bernadin and Richardson are African American. Initially accepted as a winner of Top Cow’s Pilot season, the mini series took six years to comes to fruition and is being released as a weekly series this month. The story deals with a young woman who leads a lack South Central LA community in an armed insurrection against a police state. Oliver Sava at The AV Club has a thorough write up on the series that is a must read:
Genius follows 17-year-old tactician Destiny Ajaye as she unites the separate gangs of her neighborhood against a common foe: the police. Destiny witnessed the LAPD gun down her parents as a young child, and dedicated her life to military strategy in hopes of inciting permanent change by taking the fight directly to the cops. Because this is a comic book, Genius plays like a worst-case funhouse mirror of Ferguson events; Destiny’s crew isn’t peacefully protesting, it’s waging a domestic war with homemade explosives, assault rifles, and rocket launchers. Destiny has noble intentions, but she’s willing to embrace the emotionally detached perspective of a warlord in order to achieve her goals through uncompromising force.
There’s also this must read from Bernadin:
The six years between the Genius Pilot Season issue release and the miniseries dropping [last week] felt like an eternity. But now, it feels like the world was making us wait for just the right time. When the hunger for female leads would reach a tipping point. When the hunger for diversity on and behind the comics pages would reach a tipping point. And, sadly, when the devaluation of black youth would reach a tipping point. If a thing is actually, inherently true, it is temporally fluid. It was true yesterday, it will be true tomorrow. The authorities have always distrusted people that look like me. Always. The threat/fear of an urban rebellion has always been true. Because there has ALWAYS been a powder keg waiting to be lit.
You can download the Pilot Season issue of Genius for free from Comixology.
And maybe we can all begin thinking about how to make the changes that need to happen.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.