Genius Cartel #5 Review

Posted December 22, 2017 by Chad Waller in Comic Books

Written By: Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman

Art By: Rosi Kampe

Published By: Top Cow

All good things must come to an end, or so the saying goes, and here we are with Genius Cartel #5. The Image email calls it five of five, though by all accounts, we’re in for another few arcs. It’s a comic book. Hell, it’s a Top Cow comic book.

No, what good thing came to an end has nothing to do with narrative and everything to do with coherency.

If I complained that issue #4 was a bit too chaotic, #5 is downright messy. It’s incoherent. The book jumps between multiple characters and plot points on top of what feel like time skips and big setups for the second arc. It’s not just Ajaye taking out some cartels, it’s Ajaye doing … honestly, I don’t even know for sure.

Scrolling through, I see enough of her, yet it feels like she’s barely around. It’s an odd thing to be sure, but without a coherent motivation or throughline, her interactions—and violence—come off as a collage of parts rather than a comic book.

She’s shooting some bad guys here, being sneaky there, threatening a strung-out hobo with a snake there. It’s all fun and energetic, but it never means anything. It’s action for the sake of action, because this is the last issue and that’s what we’re told we need in comic books. The problem is, it forces two issues worth of stuff into one, and it cuts narrative for violence.

That being said, I still like her. I find her charming if not outright compelling, and the “we’re the bad guys in charge!” losing their charge is still entertaining. The difference is before I knew what Ajaye was up to, so their frustration was a joke; now I don’t know what Ajaye is up to, so their frustration comes off as pretty sympathetic.

On the art front, it still looks pretty good. There are maybe one or two panels that are uglier than they should be, but on the whole, I’ve no complaints. Like I’ve said, it fits the words.

It’s possible I read the book too fast, and it’s possible I’ve simply forgotten plot points from previous issues. This once a month thing can do that, but man, going 4/5 good books and ending on a sour note is rough. I was really rooting for this one, too.

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.