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‘Genius’ #2 – stretching plausibility

‘Genius’ #2 – stretching plausibility

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Genius #2
Written by Adam Freeman and Marc Bernardin
Art by Afua Richardson
Published by Image Comics

War against the LAPD has begun. At this point in the series, there’s a bit of a credibility gap in the story, as we only poorly understand the motivations for the gangbangers as well as for Destiny. This could be fixed with a few issues explaining some context and backstory, but as it stands, the action thus far is pretty hard to buy into.

The main police analyst doesn’t have much to do in this issue, instead learning a bit more about Destiny and fruitlessly trying to stop his comrades from getting killed. Destiny leaks videos of residents of South Central discussing the brutality they experience in a viral video campaign, which then leaks into news media. Destiny’s troops lead the cops in a protracted gun battle, luring them deeper and deeper into the neighborhood. One journalist decides to get close to the action and effectively jumps into this warzone. When Destiny feels she has lured enough police officers into her territory, she sets off a bomb that kills numerous cops along with several of the people following her.

At first, I was worried that this story was going to be too simplistic, but it has more nuance than I initially gave it credit for. The problem is that I can’t tell if Destiny’s plan is remotely realistic. When I said this going to be a revenge story in my last review, I thought it would be a little more straightforward in showing Destiny as a sympathetic antihero. The sympathetic bit isn’t really coming across here, but I think that’s deliberate. At the comic’s end, Destiny’s troops, angry over being sacrificed tactically, speak against her. I hope this isn’t the part where she wins them over with some half-assed speech, but actually gives them a reason to fight and die (or lies to them). The series really needs to address why these gang members follow her, because the fact that she shot their leaders and is tough can only go so far. Why are they willing to go to war?

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I also have trouble buying the timeline here. Even accepting that Destiny is a genius, it takes time to train people into effective guerilla soldiers and marksmen; not to mention she’s only 17. How she has gang bangers who can outshoot police snipers is a bit beyond me; even the best general in the world doesn’t magically make talented soldiers. The contest isn’t too one-sided and makes it somewhat believable, but we’re at the limits of what a tactical genius can accomplish with basically untrained people. Also, the news media is weirdly sympathetic towards the gang members in South Central. Historically, riots and gun battles involving minorities and cops are not discussed impartially, or with a great deal of sympathy for gang members. This is starting to stretch my disbelief a fair bit.

As I’ve said, the motivations are the key issue here. Anger and survival will drive people to do a lot of things, but asking people to sacrifice themselves requires a cause. We haven’t really seen one yet, and the only thing holding this together is that Destiny’s people are believably frustrated. If the next issue doesn’t really deliver in Destiny trying to build up her troops, Genius will falter.

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