Shaft #1

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Shaft #1

I met Richard Roundtree a few years back at a convention. All I could do was shake the man's hand and say thank you. I was completely star struck. Roundtree's powerful presence and commanding demeanor were still evident decades after starring in "Shaft" and it's two sequels. Considering that Sam Jackson also starred as "Shaf,t" it's going to take a talented creative team to bring that type of style and presence to a comic page.

It all starts with David Walker who gets who John Shaft is and what makes him tick. I recently read an interview with Walker and he's basically a historian of the blaxploitation genre and an avid reader of Ernest Tidyman's original "Shaft" books. Damn right! Walker's story is a prequel to the material that's come before. It follows Shaft as a rising boxer. The pugilistic arts have always been a notoriously dirty field and this gritty late '60s version is bleak as can be.

There is strong foreshadowing for those that know what Shaft becomes. The story feels important and that's not always the case with prequels. Obviously, we know Shaft is going to survive, yet Walker instills a sense of danger in the proceedings. Not to mention, the story is well structured so you're getting a lengthy bit of story. No doubt about it, this is top tier comic writing.

Bilquis Evely brings the world to vivid life. She adds so much detail to this seedy, sordid tale. Her characters express a range of emotions and never appear static. Couple that with the colors of Daniela Miwa and the late '60s explodes off the page. Shaft's world isn't easy or pretty. Yet, all the ugliness is just so beautiful to look at. Artistically you can't ask for more! This comic is a bad mother....

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0