Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Review - Black Dynamite - issue 1.

Black Dynamite (issue 1 of 5).

Written by Brian Ash.
Pencils by Ron Wimberly.
Inks by Sal Buscema.
Colours by J. M. Ringuet.

based on the movie by Michael Jai White, Byron Minns and Scott Sanders.

Published by IDW.

Listen. We all know what happens here. Something is successful (or in this case 'culty' successful) and everyone jumps on the bandwagon. You see it time and time again. Did we really need the 'Highlander' sequels, or the 'Stargate cartoon, or fucking Scanner Cop 2? (yeah well I kinda liked that last one). So when they decide to transfer something you liked into another version or another medium I am always a little nervous.  Sometimes these things are best remembered as they were. Let's face it, becuase it works in one medium it's not necessarily going to work in another?

I thought the Black Dynamite was a lot of fun. It played to all the strengths (and weaknesses) of the genre that it lampooned. Even at it's best the Blaxploitation movement of the 1970s and early 1980s was a bit ropey. But I am still a fan and regularly watch movies like 'Black Belt Jones' and 'Blacula' and enjoy their freaky fun. The creators of the original movie understood the genre completely and created a funny and fun movie, full of badly edited scenes, strange close ups, hammy dialogue and lots of tits! Lot's and lots of over long lingering shots and ill timed dialogue are part of the richness of these movies. Some of those jokes are something that only works on film? Maybe?

So I went into this first issue with some trepidation. How do you translate a cinematic piece of kitschy fun into a comic?  I enter open minded!

'Black Dynamite Don't Ever Come Quick!'

The book opens in the usual funky world of one liners, sexy chicks and inner city tough guys and we get what we expect straight off the back. We get a ruined sexy scene that hilariously flashes to a a light fitting (if only to prove the books exploitation roots). Dynamite is then called into action and defeats the man mountain of a bad guy in quick shrift with some disco kung-fu (or as it's refferred to in the book 'Authentic Chinese Kung-Fu').

It's after this frenetic fight scene that the book takes an almost meta turn. Dynamite is confronted by a man in a suit and a series of witnesses. They point out to him that perennial crime fighter problem. You know the one, they always point it out in essays about Batman. That we wouldn't have super villains or rogues galleries without the Superhero/crimefighter to begin with. Black Dynamite is faced with the realisation that he may be the problem after all. The writers play with Blaxplotation perceptions by having this pointed out to our hero by a well dressed, clever, practical (black) man. The antithesis of the flashy cliche that is Dynamite. In the same twisted stupid logic that John McClane destroys a city block but is still hailed as a hero, Dynamite is knocked back to reality by a sensible person explaining a logical theory.

It was at this point that I saw the merit of the comic as part of the larger canon. The writers made it fun and pulpy but also put an extra spin on the narrative to hook the reader for the next issue. essentially Dynamite is told to 'grow up'.

So what would a hero do? He walks the earth of course!

Flash forward to a road weary Dynamite. He's melancholy (but still cool). It's raining and he's confronted by what he thinks are the CIA.  One of the Mr Anderson characters presses a button and the rain stops! It is at this moment that Dynamite is presented with the modern world and what can easily be supposed is the beginning of a whole bigger film budget.

'THE MAN' is no longer a corrupt politician, a greedy landlord or a excessively violent cop. He's now big business, corporation super bad guys. They might even (just might) be a worldwide banking group (but that is just a guess). We have fast forwarded our hero into the digital age. Will his Authentic Chinese Kung-Fu cut it in a modern world. But don't take it to seriously is the point of it for me, just enjoy it.

The writing hits all the right points and is funny and cliche all in one which can't be an easy feat. 'Funky Barker' may be my favourite name in comics for ages! 

The art has a frenetic style that seems stylistically like a graffiti montage with a little bit of early Turtles. the colours are a tad bright for a piece such as this but it's hardly a problem and I really enjoyed all the panels (I read this on guided view).

I shall certainly be picking up the rest of the run.  



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