"Blackguard" -Making Stereotypes look Good?

When Will and Jerrod Smith decided to create a super team, they knew they didn't quite want to do a straight superhero book. So they created a scenario wherein a civil-rights era superhero is resurrected and takes four supervillains and attempts to reform them. The result is the action comedy webcomic Blackguard...

Blackguard is the flagship of the Smith brothers' (aka The Brothers of Spontaneous Combustion) website BOSCcomics.com. "Will and I have so many ideas that we can’t fit everything into one type of comic." says Jerrod Smith. "We decided to launch the site with Blackguard, which will probably be our main attraction for awhile." Blackguard started out as a series of one-page gag comics, designed mostly to flesh out the characters, before they proceeded into Monkey See... Monkey Free?! the series' first actual story arc. The characters and stories of Blackguard so far feels like a sitcom about black superheroes and villains rather than a straight superhero comic, and I think that is where the potential of the series lies. When so many superhero comics portray all black people as being alike, Blackguard gives a diverse cast of weirdos who have their skin color in common, and not much else.

The main character of the story in a typical comic would surely be Eli Mercer, the civil-rights-era superhero who finds himself resurrected in  modern times, only to find the black community horribly fractured and self-destructive.  But so far, the Smith brothers have avoided establishing Mercer as the no-nonsense alpha-male, instead floating around, establishing the personalities of the team of slightly out-of-control villains Mercer is supposed to be reforming. It's clear that the villains have enough respect for Mercer to keep them in line, but they are definitely testing his patience as much as humanly possible.
What makes this comic work so far is the interplay of the supposedly reformed villains. Jonnie Staples is equally adept with guns or blades, but doesn't care for unarmed combat. He's a contract killer and mercenary, but I'm sure he'd be happy to kill his teammate ODAN for free under the right circumstances.

ODAN (which is short for One Dope Ass Ninja) is equal parts stealthy assassin and a loud-mouth rap gangsta. That means everyone he meets probably wants to kill him, but he lives to tell the tale because his ninja skills are on point. 
 
Nubian warrior princess Afia Melanin uses her sun-fueled superhuman strength tirelessly in her struggle against the "European white devils"... and she doesn't mind smacking up her brothers and sisters either when they get outta line. By the way, I don't recommend asking her why she uses a spear as a weapon, unless you're hoping to get a closer look at it...
Darius Doom is the team's evil genius. He refers to himself as a "mad black scientist" and creates technology that is as wild and crazy as possible. Robot dopplegangers. Exploding devices of all sizes. That's his cup of tea. And monologuing. He loves monologuing.
Anchoring Blackguard is Sequoia, the resident criminal psychologist and black historian who serves as a source of information for Mercer and the voice of reason for the team. From what I can tell, Sequoia is the comic's star, with Mercer coming off more as an angry uncle so far. 
Whatever the ultimate roles the characters will play, the tone of Blackguard is snarky, hip and fun. Amid all the digitally enhanced comics on the web, I enjoy the hand-drawn look of Blackguard, which has gotten better as the strip has progressed. Eight pages into the comic's first story arc, it's still moving too slowly to really critique the writing. So much about the story and background in this comic remains unclear, but I feel comfortable recommending it anyways. To get a look at Blackguard's so-called Pilot chapter (culminating in an explanation of the team's name), click here, or just jump right into Monkey See... Monkey Free.

holla!
-samax.

5 comments:

Arkonbey said...

Interesting...

A comic that combines super-heroes, humor and social commentary. That's punk and it's on my list.

Darnel said...

Thanks for the recommendation. This one looks really interesting. I hope it's here to last.

samax said...

word. I'm looking forward to seeing more of it, too!

REP96st said...

Funny stuff.. Too much of the "N" word IMO.. But at least it's the one that ends in a "Ga" instead of the "Er"..LOL

samax said...

@ REP96st- yeah, a little much, but I bet these are young cats. We'll see how it goes!

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