MUST READ: Genius by Bernadin, Freeman and Richardson


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.

Bernadin, Freeman and Richardson bring weekly GENIUS to Image


Genius is a new 5-issue mini series coming from Image this August, via Top Cow’s Minotaur Press creator-owned imprint. Marc Bernadin and Adam Freeman are the writers and Afua Richardson is the artist. In a twist, all five issue of the book will ship weekly. GENIUS originally appeared in 2008 as part of Top Cow’s Pilot Season campaign, and has been sort of hanging around since then. I dunno what the delay was all about, but it’s finally coming out.

The logline: “What if the next great military mind was a teenaged girl from South Central?” The Bernadin/Freeman teamed previously worked on Alphas, X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler, The Authority and the underrated The Highwaymen. Richardson is a stylish artist that many have been hoping to see more from, so this finally coming out ends one of those “WEHT” questions.

What if the greatest military mind of our generation was born to a people who are already supremely conditioned to wage war, who know nothing but violence since birth, and must continually adapt to new predators in order to survive? What if the second coming of Alexander the Great, of Genghis Khan, of Napoleon, of Patton…what if it was a teenaged girl from South Central, L.A. named Destiny? And what if she decides to secede three blocks of the ‘hood from the Union? Who is going to take it back from her and her army of gangbangers? Who CAN?

”We’re thrilled to be part of Image’s roster of the new and different,” said Bernardin. “This story—about an urban revolutionary’s war on systemic injustice—is one Adam and I have been wanting to tell for a very long time.”

All five issues of GENIUS will be available weekly, throughout August. GENIUS #1 arrives in stores on 8/6 for $3.99. It is available to pre-order with Diamond Code JUN140478. Issue #2 will be available on 8/13 with Diamond Code JUN140479, #3 will be available on 8/20 with Diamond Code JUN140480, #4 will be available  on 8/27 with Diamond Code JUN140481, and #5 will be available on 8/27 with Diamond Code JUN140482.