So, to review this article, I went directly to the World Wide Web and searched “Best of Black Dynamite,” not because I thought it would necessarily lend anything to my review of IDW’s Black Dynamite #1, but simply because I love that movie and was duly inspired to enjoy a hearty laugh thereby. That lasted for about 15 minutes before I tumbled blindly down a deep and treacherous path of YouTubery, which oscillated wildly between backyard one-punch knockout videos, existential puppetry and of course, Botchamania collections. Oh, The Internet, how lost I get when suckling at your swollen tit...
Back to the point, I do loves me some Black Dynamite (the film I should say, never having caught the animated series) for all of its purposefully horrendous exploitation of blacksploitation. Needless to say, I was “cautiously moist” at the prospect of reading its comic book adaptation; on the one hand keenly excited to see everyone’s favorite black kung fu messiah karatasizing suckas, but on the other worried that the onyx officer of anti-oppression would somehow ... pale ... during his “funky book” foray.
Any trepidation I had that this book would fall far from the lofty heights set by its subject material was instantly dashed, however, when I got a glimpse of its special subscription cover, which shows our swarthy sable soldier cold cocking the fuck out of a “great white” - perhaps the most subtle and nuanced bit of race relations artistry this country has ever seen. Ever.
The story of Black Dynamite #1 is one in two parts, with the majority looking back to a time many years before 1976, which serves as the book’s present. In the flashback, we catch up with the titular tinted titan as he squares off against one of his nemeses, this time in the form of Too Swole, the “jive-talking gorilla pimp,” which I think we can all agree is about as phenomenal as it gets.
After Black Dynamite - with uncommon agility, physics-defying ability and mother fucking nunchucks - clears his beloved Black Community of this, its latest scourge, instead of being once again hailed for his (presumably black) gallantry, he is turned-against by the people he has just fought so hard to protect. In a way not dissimilar to Batman or Spider-Man’s own struggle with the vicious cycle of good guys begetting more and badder bad guys, Black Dynamite is scorned for being (goddamn I love this part) a “Black Sword of Damocles,” and ushered into exile. This leads us back to meeting him in 1976 Cuba, still ostracized, and suddenly found in a position where neither his toughness, nor indeed his blackness, has ever before been so deeply tested.
Yeah. I loved this book. Writer Brian Ash, who previously worked as executive producer on the Black Dynamite animated series, wrote a graphic novel called Black Dynamite: Slave Island (which I just heard about now and will immediately purchase) and even wrote and produced The Boondocks, absolutely nails this cast of characters and the hyper-real, ridiculous world they inhabit. The tone, while significantly more tempered than the film, rings the ding for me here, eliciting quite a few titters from your humble honkey reviewer.
Meanwhile, the art from Ron Wimberly is warped and lanky, initially reminding me of a perhaps less-sinewy version of the whacky visuals of Aeon Flux (the badass MTV show, not the lame-ass movie), seemingly born somewhere between graffiti and distorted 1970s comic book art. It’s bonkers, completely unbelievable, garish and crude ... which of course makes it absolutely perfect for this title.
Making its look all the more endearing are the talents of colorist Jim Ringuet, whose application of a rough, outside-the-lines style, Ben-Day Dots method coloring and an overall weathered wash gives the book its dated appearance - a fantastic adaptation of the similar cinematic aging tricks used in the film. It also mirrors the movie’s “sloppy” editing style, which was one of my favorite elements.
I personally prefer my Black Dynamite like I like my coffee: full-bodied and bitter ... not to mention unfiltered. So it was a bit of a bummer seeing the voracity of his profanity punch pulled here, but as comic book adaptations of parody blacksploitation films go, this is the best thing you’re going to read this week. Dig it, turkey!
Writer: Brian Ash Artist: Ron Wimberly Colorist: Jim Ringuet Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/15/14