Written by: Brian Ash
Art by: Jun Lofamia
Reading the 4th issue of Black Dynamite made me forget that any of the others in the series even existed. The story seems like it has little to do with any of the others, it works well as a one-shot, and there’s a new artist so the art is not what we’re used to. But don’t let any of this sway you. This is honestly the best issue in the entire mini-series.
Considering the last issue was all the way back in July, I legitimately thought that I had just lost my mind and forgot about the epic setup to the man with the shuttlecock. However, after reading issue #3 all over again, I can tell you that there’s very little that even hinted towards the epic showdown contained in this pages; although the issue was hyped in the final pages of #3 so it wasn’t like there was some bizarre mistake.
And while I was ultimately waiting to see Black Dynamite fight some epic bestial army, let me be the first to tell you that issue #4 is the very essence of Black Dynamite as a character and a franchise and I’m almost mad that we didn’t get four issues of shuttlecock foolishness instead.
The plot in Black Dynamite #4 echoes the film in that we see what seems to be a personal tragedy turn into a full blown plot by The Man (which, in Blaxploitation land almost always means rich, evil white guy). In the opening panels we’re treated to basketball star Paul “The Pole” Monroe make a sweet dunk that our wildest dreams could’ve never imagined. However, immediately after his success, The Pole meets his untimely death in front of a crowd of people and media spins it as the unfortunate case of an overdose. Black Dynamite soon discovers that there may be more to his death with he receives a tip (and a little more) from The Pole’s own wife.
It’s essentially Anaconda Malt Liquor all over again but man is it enjoyable.
In this issue I found that Black Dynamite was able to offer more of his witty one-liners and most of his action took a backseat to the excellent dialogue that Brian Ash fills each panel with. Rarely was a panel wasted and a specific panel regarding Black Dynamite taking some shuttlecocks to the face had me laughing until I cried. In fact, the dialogue seemed more in tune with the film and as a huge fan of everything Black Dynamite, I felt like this was the best tie-in to the franchise we’ve yet to see.
Another excellent plus is that artist Jun Lofamia is back. Lofamia did the artwork on the “Slave Island” one-shot. While Marcelo Ferreira didn’t have bad art, Lofamia just fits so well within this universe that I’m mad that he didn’t do the entire mini-series. Ferreira’s art was a little more cartoony and a bit closer to the animated series whereas Lofamia takes it back to this excellent old-school look that’s reminiscent of old Blaxploitation movie posters and a time when comics cost 10 cents.
Ash and Lofamia together is something I absolutely need more of and I sincerely hope that the two of them work together on some more Black Dynamite comics. While I heavily enjoyed the previous issues, issue #4 reminded me of why I fell in love with Black Dynamite in the first place and is something that I feel anyone will be able to pick up and enjoy. The jokes are way more accessible, the action is completely ridiculous, and the ending was something that we could only ever get out of a Black Dynamite anything.
One of the things I do enjoy and the comic series is that the focus is almost entirely on Black Dynamite himself. While the supporting cast of Black Dynamite is great, I feel like focusing on Black Dynamite himself makes him this almost superhero like character that seems perfect in a comic book world, makes him a little more like Shaft, and also allows us to enjoy his one-liners and penchant for taking down the Man. It’s a simple formula that works well and when it’s done this will it doesn’t get tired or repetitive. It just gets funnier and funnier. And they still manage to fit in some slick Bullhorn rhymes in the form of a sort of credits preface that sets the scene.
This is hands down the best Black Dynamite comic since the “Slave Island” one-shot and I think that this fourth issue even gives “Slave Island” a run for its money. “Slave Island” had shark punching, Black Dynamite #4 has a dude jumping over 3 pintos to catch an alley oop from Evel Knievel. I only wish I thought of some of this stuff first because it’s absolutely golden. Ash and Lofamia have created a perfect issue and I better be getting more out of this creative team. This is supposedly the last of the Black Dynamite comics, but I feel like the success of this may lead to more. After all, Black Dynamite was only ever supposed to get a one-shot as a comic. And I feel like the popularity of the comics would’ve been better if they followed this formula instead of actually trying to be a sprawling, mystical comic.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read this issue for the 5th time.