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Shaft #3

    Todd Jordan
    Smut is good.

  • Shaft #3

    Published by: Dynamite Entertainment
    Released on: Feb. 4, 2015
    Writer: David F. Walker
    Artist: Bilquis Evely
    Cover Artist: Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz
    Purchase at Amazon

    Click HERE for last issue's write-up.

    After some questioning at the police station, John Shaft is let loose at the suggestion of his new boss, who happens to be friends with the man in charge. The cops see him as a suspect in the murder of his lady friend Arletha, but Shaft's boss says to let him go. You want to find out what's going on, he says, let that young man loose and let him do the detecting for them. John Shaft has instincts like you wouldn't believe.

    Shaft has some clues and it leads him to the hideout of a gangster who's still pissed at him for not throwing his last boxing match, and as payback he wants Shaft to work off the debt. It's exactly what the private dick wants, putting himself out there to get picked up by the gangsters, and hey look at that: the guy running the show with that bunch of thugs has some peculiar bandages on his cheek. According to the autopsy report, Arletha has the skin of a white man under her fingernails…hmm…two plus two Shaft, two plus two…

    David F. Walker's comic characterization of shaft is fantastic. John Shaft is portrayed as a tortured soul dealing with the horrors of the Vietnam War, his difficult youth, and now the cold-blooded murder of the woman he loved more than anyone on the planet. He's pissed, he's alone, and he's dangerous. But he's cool and collected; calculating might be a better word. Walker avoids the easy trappings of making a mockery of the genre and instead does what Gordon Parks did with the original movie: make a good crime story that happens to feature a black man as the main character. Walker gives nods here and there to the movie, like with some dialogue (“you're a complicated man, John Shaft”) but it's nothing more than a nod. He keeps things realistic and leaves out the parody or tongue-in-cheek business. And he writes great dialogue too, making good use of the vernacular of the period and throwing in plenty of bigotry to intensify the mood of the book. This is a straight-forward R-rated type of drama with excellent artwork from Bilquis Evely, and a book very much deserving of attention.

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