Written by David F. Walker
Drawn by Bilquis Evely
Published by Dynamite Comics
Who’s the Black private dick that’s a sex machine with all the chicks? SHAFT!
Thinking about it, I’m kind of surprised that it’s taken this long for someone to adapt Ernest Tidyman’s classic literary/film character John Shaft into a comic-book, but here it finally is, in this new series from Dynamite Comics. Written by David F. Walker, who also writes The Supernals Experiment for Canon Comics, this issue gives us the secret origin of John Shaft. I’ll confess that I never read the original Shaft novel, so I don’t know if this is following Shaft’s established background or if it’s a new story created by Walker, but either way it is interesting. Set in Dec. 1968 in Harlem John Shaft is an up and coming heavyweight boxer, preparing for his latest match. Shaft was a troubled kid who used to get into a lot of fights, before he took up boxing. Then he spent a couple of years in the army, fighting in Vietnam. When he came back he resumed his career as a boxer, intending to be someone great. But a local Black gangster Junius Tate wants Shaft to take a dive in his fight. But Shaft refuses to go down and knocks his opponent out of the ring. This angers Tate and he sends one of his henchman, a former boxer himself whose career ended when he was made to take a dive years earlier, to break every bone in Shaft’s body.
So no spoilers for the ending, but it’s an engaging tale which perfectly captures the tone of the blaxploitation films of that period, without devolving into self-parody. Likewise Bilquis Evely’s artwork is nicely rendered and serves the story well. I may be jumping the gun a bit after just one issue, but I think Walker and Evely are the perfect creative team to bring this character to the comic-book world. I loved this issue, and am looking forward to seeing where this series goes from here.