writer: Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman / artist: Afua Richardson
As I hinted at in my review of the premier issue, Genius could not be more socially relevant as a “fictional tale” as it is right now. This particular issue which centers around the police raid of an inner city neighborhood in Los Angeles is met with resistance by the Black people that live there, is hard not to compare to the militarized forces occupying Ferguson, Missouri this very moment. I do think too much comparison beyond the aesthetic becomes a little irresponsible as the large majority of protests in Ferguson have been without violence and the dug in inhabitants in Genius are anything but peaceful. Still, the overarching narrative of abuse of police power and it’s effect on those it should be sworn to protect is pretty eerie, or at the very least, relevant.
What this book gets right is the further expansion of showing how brilliant Destiny is and how she is the best chess player in this game. It is Sherlock Holmes-esque how she maps out each scenario and stays a step ahead of the police and simultaneously building a PR campaign against them. This has been a familiar trope of late, but Destiny because of her age and agency (which hasn’t been fully explained yet) make her different. Her counterpart Detective Grey seems to be putting together what kind of threat Destiny is and that has some promise in seeing how he begins to apply his new found knowledge.
What I still struggle with in this book is some of the writing and characterizations of minor characters. The Black, hapless mayor searching for answers. The street level resident that talks about the hood as the jungle. The Lois Lane-like reporter with more “balls” than her male counterparts. These seem way too familiar and puts the story on rails it doesn’t necessarily need to be on. There’s plenty good to mine from this book, but there’s also some stereotypical aspects that keep this book from elevating itself.
As per the first issue, I think the Richardson’s art is the highlight of this book thus far, her visuals still seem to marry the source uniquely, even if the source isn’t great at times. The art never seems stagnant and always feels like it is through the prism of Destiny’s perspective, which feels like a strength for this story.
I’m sticking with Genius through at least this first arc and I feel the book is mostly good. There are still some flaws to the narrative and characterization, not to mention if there’s any depth beyond Destiny the General, but I’m willing to be patient to find out.