Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Genius: Some Love it...others, not so much

As always, in effort to be fair, here are two reviews of Genius, both with differing opinions.

From Ain't It Cool News:

There are some that may be intimidated by the content in this, one of Top Cow’s first issue “Pilot Season” issues. A brilliant military and strategic mind, much like the brainchild of Napoleon, Hannibal, Patton, is born and raised in South Central Los Angeles and starts an uprising against a corrupt system. It’s one of those scenarios that’ll be sure to make suburban white American readers cringe a bit. But this first issue seems to handle this heavy concept with a serious tone and never hams it up for shock value or preachy reasons. I like the imagery as our star genius, Destiny Ajaye, is able to see what’s going to happen three or four moves ahead of her opponents. The art by Afua Richardson is extremely strong here with Cully Hamner/Tony Harris-esque mixes of exaggerated body posturings coupled with minimalistic lines suggesting dynamic shapes and movements. The writing is crisp too, from the guys who brought you MONSTER ATTACK NETWORK; Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman. I haven’t read many of these “Pilot Season” books, and it’s up to the readers to decide which one moves on to become an actual series next year. All I know is that this is a strong candidate. We previewed the book in last Monday’s SHOOT THE MESSENGER Column. Check it out. -Bug

And from Comic Book Resources:

"Every generation has one: Hannibal, Alexander, Washington, Patton. We might just be dealing with the greatest military mind of our time. A genius." That's the paraphrased, PG version of the dialog from Reggie, a detective on the LAPD. The genius is a 17-year-old named Destiny who leads folks in her neighborhood with charisma and a quick pistol-hand.

And therein is the first small issue I have with this book. The main characters are not completely identified for us. Not that I need a flow chart or a program to read this story, but it would certainly help to know who the players are on the field.

The story, regardless of knowing the stats of the players involved, is straightforward and easy to follow. Sometimes, however, it seems to take itself a little too seriously and tries to stress its own seriousness through a liberal use of the f-bomb. Bernardin and Freeman offer a tale that, like all comics, asks you to suspend your disbelief, as an organization of gangs being able to escalate to this point without any notice, concern, or infighting seems almost as credible as a flying man with heat vision. This is comics, after all, so I suppose anything is possible, but I get the notion this story isn't quite complete with this issue.

And it's not. This is the Pilot Season event from Top Cow. "Pilot Season" is Top Cow's annual initiative to attempt to let readers take control and vote on which one shot they'd like to see made into a series the following year. The problem with this story hooking into the Pilot Season initiative is that it's not complete enough to truly leave me wanting more. It reads as an interlude. This story is a clip on the evening news that blows by, never to be revisited again.

Afua Richardson hits the pages with some artwork that is brilliant in spots and rushed or incomplete in others. Some pages are well composed, some are more traditionally composed, and some are experiments that try, but fall short. I'd like to see more of her art, as I appreciate the effort and the talent. I'm just not completely convinced that her arsenal couldn't be a little sharper.

Overall the story feels kind of flat. For an issue that needs to build excitement and generate some buzz, this title just shows up. Sure, it's a new take on an older concept. The art is different than a lot of art on the stands, but nothing in this book really blew me away. I'm sure some folks would enjoy an ongoing featuring Destiny and her efforts to bring her war to those who deserve her righteous fury, but this story just didn't hook me enough.

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