Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Dietrich Smith
Release Date: February 10, 2016
Shaft: A Complicated Man was a surprise hit that showed there was still an audience for the private dick (who’s a sex machine to all the chicks) beyond ardent Blaxploitation fans in the modern era. It just goes to show that good storytelling always has a place, and that classic characters can always be current, no matter how ‘cult’ they are. Shaft might not have been reinvented, but his history is one worth delving into, and his comic book journey is a good one to be a part of so far.
Shaft: Imitation of Life sees David F. Walker back on board for this new arc, this time teaming up with artist Dietrich Smith to explore another chapter in Shaft’s legacy. In this issue, our hero accepts a job to track down a homosexual runaway who doesn’t want to be found. Shaft considers it an impossible task, but he needs to return to the real world, following months away living peacefully, wrestling with his conscience.
In this issue, the city of New York is a character in its own right; the way it’s described throughout is akin to a monster, rather a metropolis. By taking on this task, Shaft is going up against a beast that chews people up and spits them out, and in this case, it might be too late to bring his assignment back in one piece, due to the seedy, drug addled underbelly he’s hiding in. All the hallmarks of a cool, stylish Shaft story are there – only this time there’s a much darker edge than we’re accustomed to, taking us down some routes reminiscent of Cruising.
The art is top notch here, both clear and detailed in its presentation. It felt like being in Shaft’s world, albeit with some extra pizzazz to make it a world that looks familiar, but fresh. While it is fairly safe and by the book, it’s more than adequate and easy to look at; in a Shaft story stylish and simple is all you need, and that’s exactly what it is.
Overall, this is a brilliant start to the new run and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. It’s laid the foundations for an excellent detective story to be built on, while introducing some extra conflicted facets to Shaft’s character that hints at something much deeper than initially meets the eye.
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The writer of this piece was: Kieran Fisher
Kieran Tweets from @HairEverywhere_