Genius Cartel #4 Review

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Posted November 21, 2017 by Chad Waller in Comic Books

Written By: Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman

Art By: Rosi Kampe

Published By: Top Cow

Out of all the Image books I could have picked to review, I went with Genius Cartel #4. I’m still fascinated by this series, by the fact that I’ve found a Top Cow book I genuinely like. Hell, we can go one step further than that: It’s a YA book with a Mary Sue protagonist that’s edgy as hell, and I still like it! I usually hate all of those things! Sense, this makes none.

In some ways it comes down to Ajaye being a fun badass to follow around, even if she wears her badassary on her sleeve. I like her, despite every instinct telling me to cringe. She’s fun. She’s doing cool stuff that’s morally positive, saving sex workers from drug lords, but she’s forced to do that in a way that’s morally…not positive. I mean, she spends part of this issue stealing heroin to get them to follow her because they’re all addicted to goddamned heroin.

Heroin. Heroine. There’s a pun there.

But really, the book only partially focuses on Ajaye. Yeah she’s the hero, but the villains get more screen time. I don’t want to call them interesting, because in most ways they aren’t, but how they react to the Mary Sue protagonist is. There’s a lot of frustration and swearing and trying to trick Ajaye into doing what they want, and seeing it crumble is damn fun. They have so little control on the situation, reducing them down to streams of cursing that I find quite effective.

Oh, this is a Top Cow book where “fuck” reads like “fuck” and not “*&W#.” It’s a big upgrade.

Now, as far as issue #4 is concerned, it is a bit heavier on exposition than I’d like. Some of it’s good–the stuff in the beginning–but we wind up with a recap of Ajaye and her story, and then some other bits and pieces later on that I didn’t find all that useful. There’s also a lot of moving parts that come across as chaotic as the book jumps between them.

Artistically, I still like it. My praises haven’t really changed since the last review: I like the style, I like the grit, I like the explosions, and I like the facial expressions. There’s nothing that jumps out as amazing here, but the art fits the prose. It works.

I feel like I’m lowering my own personal barometer for quality by liking this book, but man, I’m having fun with it. I finish each issue thinking I’m too old for this shit, but I’m also really excited to see how the next one will wrap it all up. It’s fun. Fun is what I want.


About the Author

Chad Waller

Chad Waller is the cofounder of Dual Wield Software, a two-man video game company that just published The Land of Glass on Steam. You should check it out! You can follow him on Twitter @DualWieldSoft and find his company page on Facebook with a quick search.