writer: David F. Walker / artist: Bilquis Evely / Dynamite Comics

One of my earliest memories of Shaft didn’t come from Shaft at all, but an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, season 5, episode 3, when Nicky asked “Who’s Shaft?”

“‘Who’s Shaft?’ Oh, ho, ho. There’s so much I got to teach you,” Will replies. “See, Shaft was a complicated man…” And the credits rolled.

That was in 1994, and now in 2015 we get the fun ride of discovering just how Shaft became that complicated man through David Walker’s awesome series.

Well, it’s hard to say when exactly he became complicated – he’d been a booster, a war veteran, and tangled up with gangsters, after all – but where it really went south was meeting Arletha Havens, and boy did we see that coming.

Shaft met Arletha in issue #2 during his new job as private security for National Investigation & Security Services. She was perfect. So perfect, actually, that you knew she was going to be trouble or in trouble, but either way our boy Shaft was smitten. Turns out she was the “in trouble” variety, and Arletha Havens was found murdered.

Things are gonna get ugly? You damn right.

Released from police custody, Shaft is free to track down whoever’s responsible for Arletha’s death, so what does he do? Get the Man on Fire track ready, things are about to get real vengeful up in here. He goes to the murder scene and starts piecing together clues. He buys the apartment where Arletha was killed. He allows himself to get captured by some gangsters to whom he owes a debt – not because he’s worried about the debt, mind you; they have information he needs, and danger is no thing when you’re on a mission like John Shaft.

Shaft continues to be a great read, one that should have a steadily growing fan base, because if you’re not reading this you’re crazier than he is. It’s going to hit the fan really soon when Shaft confronts Arletha’s killers, and I can’t wait to see the blast radius.

You can catch up on previous reviews of Shaft here.

Score: 8 out of 10


  • Jordan Calhoun is a writer in New York City. His forthcoming debut book "Piccolo Is Black" is a celebration of the common adaptations we made while non-diverse pop culture helped us form identities. He holds a B.A. in Sociology and Criminal Justice, B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Japanese, and an M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. He might solve a mystery, or rewrite history. Find him on Instagram and Twitter @JordanMCalhoun

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