Wednesday 27 June 2018

Review Time! (Graphic Novel Edition!) - BLACK, Vol 1

BLACK Volume 1 title image with black and white striped background

Title: BLACK, Vol 1

Author: Kwanza Osajyefo


Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph, Tim Smith III, Steven Walker, Robin Riggs, Sarah Stern, Dave Sharpe, Sarah Litt, Patricia Daguisan, Derwen Roberson

Genre: Graphic Novel, Sci-Fi (Superhero)

Series: BLACK #1-6

Amazon: UK - USA

A Few Starting Notes:

(I received a free digital review copy from the publishers via NetGalley as an opportunity to provide a fair and honest review. This does not affect the content of my review.)

I've been meaning to write this review for quite a long time. But every time I sit down to write it, I feel slightly lost.

Because BLACK is unique, and intense, which makes it very, very, difficult to review.

Still, I'm gonna do my best 😅

As a reminder, I'm a white Welsh chick, so there's a limit to my perspective.

This book is Black American #OwnVoices.

The Premise:

Kareem Jenkins, a young black man in America, is gunned down by the police.

He dies.

Except, he doesn't stay that way.

And with that, he is exposed to one of the greatest conspiracies of all time: people with superpowers exist.

There is a gene that creates people with superpowers, and it only occurs in black people.

What would certain powerful white people do to stop that little fact coming out?

...And what would they do to use it for their own ends?

The Best Bits:

Firstly, the poetic justice of an X-men style plot and set-up consisting of only black superheroes is awesome.

With BLACK, we take the Civil Rights allegory, and we run with it.

This book has sooooo much awareness when it comes to race relations in America!

It somehow binds together not only the past and the present of the challenges that Black Americans face, but also places these skilfully alongside the premise of superpowers.

And it's shocking in places.

Many people will find it distasteful, I'm sure (more about that later,) but it's the kind of shocking that makes you sit up and pay attention.

Our colour-scheme here is black and white, shot through, in places, in red.

So much symbolism there!

Social commentary in the colour scheme! I mean, wow!

Content Warnings:

As this is a graphic novel, I really have to warn you that it does get really GRAPHIC.

- police brutality/shooting/racism

- racist murder

- general racism (inc. 'n' word and other slurs)

- systemic racism

- lynching/tarring and feathering (VERY GRAPHIC)

- torture (VERY GRAPHIC)

- experimentation on black people (VERY GRAPHIC)

- death by burning

- graphic nudity

- general graphic violence

- graphic depictions of dead bodies

The Not So Great Bits:

This book is violent and shocking.

Some people may even say that it's gratuitous, though I wouldn't agree with that.

The cover of the second issue - included in this volume as a chapter marker - is of the bodies of Black people, hanging from where they've been lynched.

It's chilling.

Not everyone is gonna be able to read it. And that's OK; take care of yourselves.

Be careful my nerdlets - please!

A note for my fellow white people:

Be honest with yourselves - are you more upset by the images, or the white guilt that comes with them?

You don't have to say, but please don't lie to yourself - make sure you understand your own reactions truthfully.

The main downside to this book is the lack of character development.

This isn't unique to BLACK - a lot of series dealing with this many characters struggle with it, especially when they're introduced more or less all at once.

I think here, the character development is sacrificed for the plot, and the points that the plot is making.

Sometimes the action gets a little confusing, but the message always shines strong - and I think that makes it worth it.


This book is bold.

It's so unique, and packs a powerful punch that has little to do with the superpowers.

It's not a comfortable read, and not everyone is gonna be able to read it, but it's a powerful and heart-felt series.

I highly recommend it.

Buy Now UK - Buy Now USA - Goodreads

What do you think of using superhero stories to make points about the world we live in? Talk to me! 😎💬

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Last updated: 31st May 2020


  1. Woah this does seem like a very shocking book, but also very important. It kind of reminds me of the movie Get Out, with the obvious racial undertones and the fact that it is very graphic. I’m glad you found this one unique and well written!

    1. The plot's very different, obviously, but yeah, I guess there's a certain shared vibe there!

  2. Wow, this sounds intense and so needed. I wonder if I will be able to stomach the violent imagery in order to read it?

    1. It's... pretty chilling. Particularly that cover for the second issue. Maybe check out some of the artwork online first?

  3. Okay, I have to admit that I don't really read graphic novels all that often. If ever. Because I find them expensive and then I race through them quickly. BUT I just added this one to my TBR because I really want to read it. I love the idea and premise of this novel, and it definitely has a lot of themes to unlock and discuss because of this. Your review has me convinced.

    1. Oh, wow, I really hope you enjoy it! (Be careful of the graphic parts, though - they're *graphic*)

      It's so interesting and unique - and there's definitely a lot of themes going on! I hope you like it :)

  4. This is an interesting premise, but it sounds like it handles the heavy topic really well. I think shocking and chilling is a good thing for something like this.

    1. It does handle it well! I think it's an impressive book over-all :)


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