Publisher: Dynamite Comics’
Writer: David Walker
Art: Bilquis Evely
Publication Date: April 2015
Format: Comic Book
Page Count: 32 pages
“See this coffee? This is me. No sugar. Definitely no cream. Just black.” – John Shaft
We catch up with The bad mother…. as he is speaking with Marisol Dupree, Shaft really shows his intelligence by tracking her down hiding in Bridgeport. As you may have read in the last issues Marisol is indeed involved in a scandal, in which she is in possession of some very incriminating evidence. Her best friend Arletha tried covering for her which resulted in her death. Unlucky for all involved Arletha was passionately involved with John Shaft, and now he’s unraveling this puzzle to depths he couldn’t imagine….
During the first few pages we are finally let in on some of the secrets as to what is going on, we find out Marisol started getting involved with the wrong man, as he was pimping her out to the high rollers in the city. We are also exposed to the fact there are some very explicit photography documenting powerful men who have a taste for black women, they use them and abuse them for their own dominant desires, Marisol happens to be a victim of this savagery, and learning this angers shaft. Once he pieces the story together Marisol entrusts him with the photographs giving him the keys to his now deceased girlfriend Arletha’s locker. After seeing the pictures for himself he is able to gather most of story contemplating the rest as he heads back to the city.
We see shaft with all kinds of thoughts going through his head, one of my favorite parts in this issue in general is seeing scenes of ponder Shaft goes though. We see flash backs with past characters, and we get that sense of intense calculation. Needing some guidance and clarification Shaft contacts detective Buchinsky. They sit down for a talk and as always Shaft is not 100% honest with him, always staying one step ahead. Unfortunately Buchinsky couldn’t give him any real advice other than to not get killed, adding being a detective is like playing a game of chess. My favorite part of this issue happens in this scene making the quote from above relevant. Shaft uses a cup of coffee adding elements like sugar and pepper to convey, now that everyone is in his shit, his situation is all messed up. I loved this so much, it really showed how much Depth the shaft character has with the strong vernacular he uses. Once the meeting is over Shaft leaves, however he watches from an alley as Buchinsky converses with a cop tailing Shaft. Even though Buchinsky is on Shaft’s side it still shows he is also in deep and connected with the enemy in some fashion. Next is my second favorite part of the comic, shaft deep in thought, consciously lays out his anger for everyone around him thinking he’s a fool. No matter how much he proves them wrong they still think he is dumb and incapable, the writing was phenomenal here once again driving this Shaft character home.
“F*ck me, This is all about real estate.” – John Shaft
We next see Shaft pondering again in the Park, he is joined by Vernon Gates one of the many men looking for this package. This man Demands the package, but in a smart play Shaft only shows one picture demanding answers of his own. Shaft wants information on one of the men in the photographs, yet the information given is not something he wanted to hear. It is reveled the man in the picture is Edward Ruggerio, the number 2 man of Austin Tobin who runs the port authority. It is also reveled that Edward Ruggerio is the reason behind Harlem losing The World Trade Center project. Ruggerio helped steal the project away causing the Harlem community to lose the multi Billion dollar development opportunity, that would have given jobs to local contractors and business owners. They plan on using the pictures as leverage to insert black companies onto the Trade project, giving money to the community and to the people of harlem who employ the black community. Shaft is frustrated that his love was killed over Real estate, and seemingly pieces the final puzzle together.
Hearing enough he leaves the park and confronts the cop that’s been tailing him, he smartly sets up a meeting on his terms and invites all the big time players to the party. He again shows his strength and smarts by not taking any lip from the cop, making this meeting on his playing field, obviously heeding the words of the chess game comparison. I think Shaft is severely planning to out smart all his foes at the same time, and next we see him making preparation to do just that….
Sitting in a club we see shaft having an exchange between an old friend using very nice code to cover up their real conversation. Talking about the weather to disguise this transaction they head outside where Shaft can purchase some “heat”. once their alone his friend shows him a trunk full of weapons giving Shaft his choice of whatever he wants as re payment for a past favor. We see Shaft strap up and as the comic closes we are given a glimpse as to what is to come. Judgement day for those who appose Shaft, his friend solidifies this by stating….
“I wouldn’t want to be whoever the f*ck it is that’s on your wrong side, no sir”.
Another amazing issue in this series, this was definitely for those who have kept up thus far. It’s obvious they are setting up the finale of this arc to be a huge issue. The action in here was well… none, but here’s the thing, it allowed the series to show off its strongest trait and that’s the dialog. Shaft’s inner conscious alone is a well written master piece, and the strong character development here is a true work of art. Definitely a lead up issue, and one you should not start on, but if you read from issue 1 its place is needed and much appreciated. As I stated every piece of dialog was imperative to this issue, we also found out so much about the characters and everyone involved that the depth is truly growing in many ways. Seeing shaft deeply pondering the events of his life and those around him made this issue for me completely, Shaft is a strong man showing an uncanny resilience we barely see today. I see why they say he’s a Bad mother…… Always a step ahead, never allowing anyone to be disrespectful to him or his man hood. With the ending setting up for a strong arc finale, I have nothing but soaring high hopes for issue 6. I give this a 9/10 for strong art presence, but most importantly amazing character development and dialog. This issue was a perfect way to set up a finale, stay tuned…..
– Grainbelt Jones