Review - Shaft #1

"You can't ask a fighter to give up."

Yes, he's a complicated man that no one understands but his woman. That can change though, as Dynamite wants readers to get to know the real Shaft. Dig a little deeper into his past to find out what makes him tick. And they're starting in Shaft #1, written by David F. Walker, illustrated by Bilquis Evely and colored by Daniela Miwa.

Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine with all the chicks? Shaft! Created by author Ernest Tidyman and made famous in a series of novels and films, iconic hero Shaft makes his comic book debut in an all-new adventure. He's gone toe-to-toe with organized crime bosses, stood up to the cops, squared off against kidnappers and foiled assassination attempts. But who was John Shaft before he became the hardboiled investigator with a reputation as big as New York City itself?

All of the above more or less sums up the public knowledge of Shaft, but Shaft #1 is going back a bit. In the first issue, Walker taps into that mystique without missing a beat, showing off a Shaft who refuses to compromise when it comes to his decision-making. He's a boxer, which adds some insight into his mammoth size and ability to act as a bruiser. Walker's dialogue feels as if it fits right into the Shaft universe, meting out the occasional f-bomb here and there for good measure. His approach is a stern reminder that this isn't going to be a watered-down, mainstream incarnation of the famed character, which is fantastic honestly.

Evely offers a great level of detail in the work, especially when it comes to facial expressions. Many of the characters wear scowls as if their badges of honor, which further underscores the nasty nature of the company Shaft keeps. Evely also does a great job of making the book feel appropriate for the time Shaft lived in, with characters sporting a 70s style that's rife with plaid pants and fur-lined bomber jackets. Many of the outdoor scenes feature snow and Evely uses this to his advantage as a way of making those panels feel exceedingly crowded and busy. It's something that feels as if it adds multiple layers to the panels to give them depth.

Shaft #1 isn't really going to surprise anyone familiar with the character when it comes to tone or setting. Shaft is characterized as a man who doesn't go down without a fight and that man is on display even before he became a champion of the people. Walker's approach doesn't alter that perception at all; rather, he simply gives the reader some insights into some of his earlier dealings that made him the character he's recognized as now. Evely's illustrations are well done and fit the tone of the book, accented by Miwa's dark and depressing color palette. Shaft #1 is a good first issue if you're interested in the character and learning more about where he came from before he donned the black trench coat.

Shaft #1 is in stores now with interiors below.