Seventeen-year-old Destiny Ajaye has grown up surrounded by the constant violence of gang warfare in South Central Los Angeles. She also just happens to be the greatest military strategist of our time. Genius #1, winner of Top Cow’s Pilot Season competition, explores this intriguing premise.
Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman take a character who could be a caricature and turn her into a believable human being. Destiny’s origins – the years and years of violence surrounding her – make her motives understandable as she unites the gangs and starts a war with the LAPD. She’s ruthless when necessary and yet it comes from a place of compassion for the people of her neighborhood – people who see her as some kind of savior. While covering Destiny’s past, the present day story takes place as the gangs of South Central wait for retaliation from the LAPD following the murder of several officers. The issue ends as everything comes to a boiling point leaving the reader desperate to know what happens next.
Afua Richardson brings the fascinating concept behind Genius #1 to life. From the slick cover featuring Destiny draped in nothing but yellow caution tape to the scenes of startling violence, Richardson’s artwork is polished and her palette lends itself to the vivid rendering of Destiny’s life. A scene depicting the brutality of everyday life in South Central becomes something tragically beautiful thanks to her incredible talent. She expertly uses shadow and silhouette to increase the drama in each panel as tensions mount and the story propels itself to explosive action.
Genius #1 is perfect for readers who love incredible complex female characters. It rightfully won Top Cow’s Pilot Season and with the talent on display from both the writers and artist, the series promises to be an addictive read.
Genius #1 comes out today.