Review - Black [AF]: Widows and Orphans #1 (@blackmaskstudio)


Ninjas hold a special place in media. They're revered for their seemingly endless capabilities and feared for their talents. And they're what make Black [AF]: Widows and Orphans #1 from Black Mask Studios tick. The issue is written by Kwanza Osajyefo, illustrated by Tim Smith 3, colored by Derwin Robinson and lettered by David Sharpe.

In a world where only black people have superpowers, what price do they fetch on the black market? From the pages of BLACK, this new story features Anansi and Hoodrat investigating a human trafficking ring that will take them across the globe and bring them face-to-face with dark pasts of abuse, child soldiers, and families torn apart.

To say that Osajyefo's script in Black [AF]: Widows and Orphans #1 globetrots would be an understatement. In fact, the characters move so fast and furious that it's hard to keep up at times, but Osajyefo does a solid job of keeping things orderly. That's not to say that Osajyefo's script is hard to follow; rather, it remains very clean and honest despite its frenetic pace. The interactions amongst the characters reflect a shared history and Osajyefo acknowledges this well in a way that lets the reader keep up. There's an appropriate level of intrigue presented amidst the literary bombast with Osajyefo offering the reader a lot of action and adventure throughout.

Smith 3 does an equally outrageous job with the artwork, rendering the characters and events with an attention to the seemingly ridiculous concept of ninjas engaging in open combat against one another in public places. The linework is very sharp and concise, presenting the characters cleanly against the backgrounds. Smith 3 illustrates the characters with a nod to anime and animation, infusing their physiques with enough exaggeration that the reader gets drawn into the madness. Smith 3 mixes in a variety of panel layouts in the issue that ebb and flow with the pace of the story at that moment. Robinson's color palette is a rainbow explosion as just about every color is used at some point in the issue.

Black [AF]: Widows and Orphans #1 is an ambitious and audacious issue that brings with it an abundance of reckless abandon. Anansi and Hoodrat are sent across the world on their latest mission, but their trip is anything but a vacation. Osajyefo's script is quick and pretty straightforward, filling the characters with dialogue that bring them to life. The illustrations by Smith 3 are gregarious in their approach making modern ninjas a real thing. Black [AF]: Widows and Orphans #1 is a lot of fun.

Black [AF]: Widows and Orphans #1 is available now.