After an issue featuring enough cop-killing to make the NWA blush, this third issue sees Destiny and her mega gang enjoying their initial win over the LAPD. While it hints at the beginnings a better story in later issues, it just doesn’t do enough for me to want to continue reading. Like the first two issues, Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman use some of this issue to look at how Destiny came to power over LA’s gangs. This time around, we’re privy to Destiny’s first time killing someone as a little girl, shooting a guy we find out is a gang member thanks to a convenient ‘Bloods’ tramp stamp. This transitions to where things left off last issue when Destiny’s underlings questioned whether she was a suitable leader thanks to her willingness to sacrifice some of her men during the LAPD’s siege. I was hopeful that such a cliffhanger would make for an issue where Destiny proves her mental and physical prowess to her underlings and the reader. Instead, Destiny simply spouts off a short speech, stating that her job is ensuring that her followers’ lives aren’t wasted and not that they’ll all survive. And just like that, the writers gets rid of the little tension they’ve built up. The rest of the issue is then divided between the gangs’ revelry and the cops discussing their next steps before the issue wraps on another cliffhanger, one that’s exceedingly underwhelming and points to just more mindless shooting.
My main problem with last issue carries on in this one as we’re still given little reason to care about Destiny’s cause. At one point during the festivities Destiny states that this is what they’re fighting for, the images, courtesy of Afua Richardson, being mostly of a culturally diverse group of people getting drunk on forties and dry humping.
While Genius falters on a storytelling front, the comic continues to ooze atmosphere. Richardson excels at character designs that cover a wide range of looks, making each of south central LA’s residents a unique individual. Kudos to him as well for making a young Destiny look badass, if strangely sexualized, as she holds target practice on a Mr. T action figure. Additionally, the decision to illustrate the bass notes once the party gets started adds an auditory element to the comic that doesn’t seem forced at all. In the wake of recent events in Ferguson, Genius has the potential to be the rare independent comic that strikes a chord with non comic readers. If Bernardin and Freeman finds a way to transfigure his caricatures into characters maybe he can still pull it off, but chances are that that’s not happening.
Writer: Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman Artist: Afua Richardson Publisher: Image/Top Cow Price: $3.99 Release Date: 8/20/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital