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Pilot Season: Genius #1

Posted: Monday, June 23, 2008
By: Marx Pyle

Adam Freeman & Marc Bernadin
Afua Richardson
Top Cow / Image
"Every generation has one, Lou. Hannibal, Alexander, Washington, Patton. We just might be dealing with the greatest military mind of our time." -- Reggie

LAPD detective Reggie has a theory, that a natural born military genius is uniting the various gangs in an organized war against the LAPD. He calls him Suspect Zero. Unbeknownst to Reggie, Subject Zero is actually an inner city 17-year-old black woman named Destiny.

Destiny sees three steps ahead of anyone. She was raised in a rough part of the city and she is tired of what she has seen. She has a plan and it starts now.

This book is gritty, offensive, and shocking. You pretty much figure that out from the first page, where we see a cop get shot. Can anyone say Grand Theft Auto?

Between the cop killing, the f-words, and the seemingly racial stereotypes, this isn't a book for everyone. At first I didn't think I was going to like this book at all, but it started growing on me as I saw that there was more going on. The genius Destiny had united the neighborhood behind her to take it from a city with what she perceives as a broken system. Destiny and her army would be 911. Things were going to change.

Genius is the third 'contestant' in Top Cow's 2008 Pilot Season contest. Six one-shot 'pilot' issues hit the stands, but only two will get a second issue depending on reader votes. This season has given us a unique mix of genres. This is definitely a stronger group of choices compared to last year. I've already reviewed Twilight Guardian and Lady Pendragon. Now it's Genius' turn as we hit the mid point of the contest.

Structure wise, Genius is solid. I can easily see this as an action film or the pilot episode for a TV show. There is a beginning (intro to Destiny), a middle (Reggie and his theories, plus fleshing out who Destiny is) and an end (the big fight between the police and Destiny's 'army'). But we have hooks to keep us wanting more. Like how is Destiny going to keep her turf? What is her overall plan? Why is she doing this? We even have a nemesis with Reggie, the only detective who could see the patterns.

The minds of Adam Freeman & Marc Bernadin (The Highwaymen, Monster Attack Network) bring us this unique and very mature book. It's sort of similar in feel to Wanted; it is controversial and has a lead character who runs the risk of being too dark to relate to for multiple issues. Seeing all these cops being killed was a rough sell for me. No matter what her reasoning, they aren't all corrupt. Destiny is no superhero, that's for sure. And this book will not be for everyone. It's a strange blend of A Beautiful Mind and Boyz In Da Hood.

The distinctive art style is courtesy of Afua Richardson (Half Dead). I didn't care for it at first, wanting something more detailed and gritty for the story. But, it grew on me and worked well for the book.

Final Word: Genius is not for everyone and just might offend some, but it is a unique blend of inner city violence with a creative twist. What appears at first to be senseless gratuitous violence hides a story filled with social commentary. The question is, will it have what it takes to win the Pilot Season 2008 fight?



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