Genius is a new mini-series from Top Cow with the description of “a harrowing, action-packed tale of a city that declares war on a brilliant young woman.” Is it good?
Genius #1 (Top Cow Productions)
Detective Reginald Grey is tracking down a very dangerous criminal codenamed “Suspect Zero”, who is going to war the Los Angeles Police Department after having united all of the cities’ gangs into one gigantic army. After a very nasty ambush against 40 cops, the police department prepares to fight back — even though Grey believes it to be a trap. The mysterious suspect? A 17-year-old girl name Destiny Ajaye.
Storywise, this issue covers the origin of Destiny and what’s going on in the present with her war against the police. Destiny’s origin is interesting, as we get to see how she grew up and got to the top of the “food chain” in the gang empire. She makes a pretty decent villain (I don’t really see her as a hero/antihero) and the comic really does a good job of making her a legitimate force to be reckoned with. The comic’s timeline seems a little messed/doesn’t make sense when you consider she’s only 17 years old. It also doesn’t help that the events that happen in the comic are not very clear due to that weird and rather dry opening page of text.
The characterization in Genius is rather sketchy as well. In fact, besides Destiny, there is real no characterization to speak of. The only defining trait with the other characters is with that of Detective Grey. He’s very smart, by the way. That’s pretty much it. The rest of the characters, police officers and gang members alike have no real depth or humanity to them.
… That’s also where another problem with the comic, who are we supposed to be wanting to win (or at least survive)? It especially gets worse if we apply our perception of these groups from reality into the comic: why would we want to side or sympathize with either group, who have rather awful reputations? Though if we stick just how both sides are presented in the book, the gangs are far worse to the point where despite what some cops did in the book, the cops are more sympathetic. The morality and the characterization are all just so questionable and up in the air.
“He won’t get holey”? Ugh, what cop talks like this?
But what about the rest of the writing here? It’s a mixed bag to be honest. The scene transitions and story flow are mixed, sometimes being very good or coming across as being rather awkward. The pacing is alright and the ending isn’t too bad, but doesn’t have much a hook. The dialogue is probably the best part of the comic (even though there are some bad lines and some over the top corniness at points), being able to capture a sense of realism and semblance of personality for characters who really don’t have any background or characterization.
The artwork by Afua Richardson is a mixed bag as well. The imagery is striking at times — Destiny’s backstory and the second page for instance (though it’s sort of ruined by the narration), which both have a lot of power behind them. Other times it’s just rather bland and boring, like the scene that introduces Grey. The coloring that definitely helps with a lot of the scenes. Also, on a final note, the comic boasts something that I rarely see with comics and that’s really hard to read text. Luckily, it’s only confined to the first page, but it still made it a very big pain to read.