cover image Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit

Mark Waid and J.G. Jones. Boom, $24.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-60886-872-8

Racial strife in a Jim Crow–era Mississippi town reaches a boiling point when a devastating series of floods coincides with the arrival of a superpowered alien—who happens to look like a black man. Both raised in the South, Waid (Kingdom Come) and Jones (Wanted) clearly had the best of intentions, but the serialized version was one of the most controversial comics of the past year: while attempting to critique racism, the story stumbles over what feels like every racist trope. Jones deserves credit for his gorgeous Alex Ross–like painted art, but plays directly into the systemic sexualization of black bodies by having the hero remain naked for more than half the book. Waid contributes by naming the hero “Johnson”—a juvenile genitalia gag—and worse yet, making him wordless throughout, so that Johnson becomes a silent, hollow cliché of what two white creators think black power means. With a tepid plot and shallow exploration of the themes it raises, this book ends up feeling too self-congratulatory to make a strong statement. (May)