Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Bilquis Evely
Cover: Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, & Ivan Nunes
This issue finds John Shaft trying to find his place in the world after the events of last issue. Having left Harlem, he’s now looking for a job, and finds one that will set him on the path of becoming the legendary private detective. But after scoring a good job and meeting a beautiful woman, you just know that things won’t stay this good for long, and soon enough Shaft is mixed up in something dirty. Kidnappers, gangsters, and murder quickly follow, and he’s going to make them regret all of it.
Walker is breathing new life into an iconic character, and it’s good to see things are taking shape nicely. The gritty story is one of the best around, and it’s safe to say that Walker has a pretty firm grip on who John Shaft is. Not only that, but he’s also capable of showing us the man he’ll become with flashes of his brash cockiness and intellect. The dialogue is gripping, and though uncomfortable at times, fully embraces certain parts of the era and those that live in it. Now, there’s a few very familiar story tropes in this issue that even though we see coming, are still made enjoyable. However, there was one that was a little too on the nose and quite predictable.
Evely’s artwork is still a joy to look at as she totally plunges into the era with the fashion and backgrounds in each panel. There are too many impressive panels here, from the New York City skyline to the brawl in the alley. The pacing is just right, and the montage dating sequence really felt like Isaac Hayes’s The Look of Love should have been playing in the background. The colors by Daniela Miwa give Shaft a look of comics from this era which, in turn, adds to the authenticity of the narrative. I know this look may not be for everyone, but it really adds to the atmosphere of the story and gives more weight to everything in the pages.
You don’t have to be an expert on Shaft or even have seen the classic movies to enjoy what this creative team is bringing to the table. Walker is making sure this is a comfortable introduction for anyone willing to pick up the title and give it a try. Which I recommend you do if you’re a fan of crime drama and grounded characters that don’t wear tights and shoot beams from their eyes!