“Slave Island”: This one-shot is a sequel to the Black Dynamite movie which has become a cult hit since its debut in 2009. For those that are unfamiliar with the film, it stars Michael Jai White (Spawn, Mortal Kombat: Legacy) as ex-football star “Farrante Jones,” who is playing ex-CIA agent Black Dynamite. The film itself is a throwback to the heyday of Blaxploitation films of the 70s and is complete with all the things that made those films great and not so great in that era.
After Black Dynamite is called to a hospital to take a look at a man who has escaped the island, he suits up and makes his way to the resort with every intent on burning it down. After the best two-page fight scene with a shark I’ve ever seen, the ex-CIA agent/martial arts master washes up on the beach and passes out from wounds he’s suffered. He’s then captured and introduced to the man who is running the show, Noah Hicks. Then, after being thrown into the holding cells, Black Dynamite quickly finds out that some of his brothers and sisters don’t see things his way, and he decides to continue his mission alone. However, if you know Black Dynamite, then be assured he’ll do whatever it takes to come out on top and get the girl in the process.
I’ll admit that there was some concern on my part about this issue coming out. Mainly because the movie was just so good and it’s rare when that same formula can be transferred over to the comic. Well, Brian Ash knows his character and makes this issue worthy of an installment in the Black Dynamite franchise. He was able to get across the feel of the film with its subtle humor and Black Dynamite’s level of cool, along with a plot and characters worthy of any Blaxploitation film to ever hit the scene. Ash let the action carry a lot of the story, while the humor that was a lot more prevalent in the film seemed to be secondary. Not that this was a negative, because when you noticed things like the name of the clinic or realized Black Dynamite was quoting Cyrus from another cult classic, The Warriors, it just made things that much better.
More than anything it was the artwork that really helped with the overall feel of the story. Just like the movie was filmed to resemble the Blaxploitation films of the 70s, complete with visible boom mics and character mistakes that weren’t edited out due to budget limits, this issue looks like it was pulled straight from the decade of cool. The artist is Jun Lofamia, who has a very long history in comics, and from his Luke Cage inspired cover to the interior pages he nails that old school look. The panel layouts are just exploding with action and he tells the story visually just as well as Ash does with words. To add to the retro feel of the book we get the slight color problems, and even though the story is printed on glossy paper it still looks worn and yellow around the edges. There’s also the old school ads, but with a Black Dynamite touch as Michael Jai White reprises his role as “Farrante Jones” to endorse his brand of payback to the beach bully.
Whether you’ve seen the film or not, this is still a very enjoyable issue. Though it’s obvious that if you have seen Black Dynamite the experience might be a bit more richer for you. The presentation of the entire issue not only takes you back to the days of Shaft, Foxy Brown, and The Mac, but it’s done to effectively enhance the story of Black Dynamite. And remember, once you go Black Dynamite, you never go back…to just plain black! Can you dig it?