I wasn’t going to review IDW’s Black Dynamite #4. I really wasn’t. I’d felt there was a big enough gap between us, filled with time (the previous issue was released at the beginning of July) and a cooling of passion, such that I could easily walk away. But since it was in town, I thought it couldn’t hurt to check back in with an old flame. And now I’m glad I got back into bed with this swarthy onyx lothario, because he satisfied me most deeply with his perfectly-toned, hard-as-nails, big, black comic. This issue shows exactly how the title as a whole should have been handled from the word go: a fun one-and-done with great blaxploitative parody, well-voiced commentary and other ridiculous sundry goings-on. As such, it’s also the perfect issue to jump back on-board with the book, provided the creative team can keep to a regular deadline schedule.
Set in 1972, the story catches up with the titular tenebrous titillator of tail, Black Dynamite, after the unfortunate (and shady) demise of the fictitiously-famous basketball player, Paul “The Pole” Monroe. Now a big black Dick (private investigator, that is), Black Dynamite is hired by Monroe’s wife after listening to her story of cover-ups and foul play, and banging the snot out of her with some good ol’ fashioned bereavement sex. Dynamite is then thrown into a world of kung-fu information gathering, torturous shuttlecocking and some great white hype surrounding the importance of proper footwear throughout history, not to mention the racially-motivated and weaponized holding back thereof.
As you can probably tell by this point, Black Dynamite #4 is fucking ludicrous, at least in its over-the-top treatment of hilariously repetitive, impressively pun-rife dialogue. Writer Brian Ash absolutely nails that aspect of the character here, and is clearly having a ball capturing and playing with the property’s voice. In so doing, he remains fiercely loyal to the source material. At the same time, though, he does manage to temper his out-there presentation with some very street-level social commentary.
After all - and without meaning to hang my politics dong in your face here - but minority populations have been set upon by white America via a lot less ridiculous vehicles than footwear. It’s conceivably inconceivable is I guess what I mean. Ash also gets a few good straight jabs in there, like Cosell’s “black/regular history” remark, and a legitimately gripping two-page finale, which speaks volumes on both a socio-economic level and as some unexpectedly deep characterization of Black Dynamite himself.
In another way, however, what Dynamite does at the end of this book could taint the character as a false hero: one who doesn’t believe strongly enough in the people he has sworn to protect, and thinking they will so easily collapse into savagery. Which, now that I think about it, could be kind of ... racist? Wait. I don’t know if I want to go there. And maybe I’m getting too deep, so I’ll let you interpret it as you will. Still, it does show you how much Ash is able to pack into Black Dynamite #4, both in its wanton lunacy and genuine talking points.
Speaking of commenting, I want to make a significant note of Jun Lofamia’s art. That note is this: it’s fucking perfect. There’s a hard-edged innocence to his style that complements the story and spirit of Black Dynamite, similar to the direction of how the visuals began in this series, but with a much more gristly flare. Washed in the heavy burn of Ringuet’s colors, which sometimes err on the side of overcooking, Lofamia’s layouts are alternatingly traditional and bombastic, much like the story.
His faces, on the other hand, have this chiseled quality to them, especially the more uncomfortably close you get to a character in question. It isn’t crisp (not that it really needs to be) and ironically feels a bit stiff in places, but his figure work shows enough elegance that his talent for both individual expression and dedication to the inherent joke in the Black Dynamite franchise is clear.
I’m very glad that I went back to Black Dynamite in its fourth issue, because this book here is right-the-fuck-on!
Writer: Brian Ash Artist: Jun Lofamia Colorist: Jim Ringuet Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $4.99 Release Date: 11/12/14 Format: Print/Digital