Review: Genius Cartel #1

Review: Genius Cartel #1

Writers: Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman

Art: Rosi Kampe

Colours: Brad Simpson

Letters: Troy Peteri

Publisher: Image Comics


A, LA at tipping point. A landscape boiling over with brutal police slayings of black Americans. A vista splattered with blood from both sides of the ongoing war. Enter Destiny Ajaye – leader of the United Gangs movement. Deadly with a gun but even deadlier with her mind; a mind that looks oh so useful to a clandestine government agency called Madrasa who look set to exploit her for their own gains. So when Destiny delivers herself to the authorities in a selfless act designed to put at end to the police violence, she is at once forcibly recruited into an even more callous killing machine than the very one she was fighting. Following on from the hit, five-part series Genuis, where a warrior minded street gang leader waged war in South Central, with Genius Cartel, Image seem to have reached out into ‘bad girl turned good’ territory with but with the current political climate, maybe Kirkman et al were thinking ‘good girl turned bad’. So what does the book bring to the table?


genius cartel #1b


The writers have injected pace into plot from word go with the opening frames summarising the premise efficiently. No time is wasted in getting down to the main course and that is the transition from street warrior to government agent that Destiny is forced to make. The smack of paranoia and mistrust could be squarely heard as Bernadin and Freeman (Alphas, X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler, The Authority, The Highwaymen) weave a tale of power and lies where no-one can be trusted. Yes, it’s a little over-done, nonetheless, it’s relayed well and Destiny’s plight is watched by the reader with growing concern as we are given omnipresent privileges that allow us to witness the backhanded dealings that are working at keeping Destiny in line, or even pushing her towards loyalty. She just doesn’t know how much trouble she’s in for and it’s this premise that will make for a return readership.


Artwork here is dynamic in line with the pacy and edgy themes, and Kampe’s line work encapsulates this with movement lines blending into the hazy background heat of LA so as to keep with the realistic look of the book. Destiny’s facial features are a clear window to her mind and body language is key to reading each frame. The colouring also mutes any risk of over-the-top, vivid sequences with a dulled palate that both captures the hazy heat of the city, and makes for a more sinister look. Dark light training ground sequences are brilliantly washed in dark blues and killing frames in dark blood-reds to capture the mood of the moment. All this makes the book a fluid and organic read, a far cry from lurid, sensationalist blood-fests.


genius cartel #1cova


In conclusion, I really liked the book. The ending left me keen to pick up issue two and I would recommend it for fans of gritty action, anti-government type storylines like DMZ, or books with a strong but underplayed protagonist. I get the feeling that if we underestimate Destiny, she’s going to shock not just the agents of change, but the readership as well.


Thank you for reading our review of  Genius Cartel #1. We here at the Chico Comics Page appreciate your viewership. We invite you to check back with us soon as we post often. Or, you can follow us on Facebook (The Chico Comics Page) and Twitter (@ChicoComicsPage) for regular updates on all of our posts.

Review written by Arun S.



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