David Walker, “Shaft Volume 1” (Dynamite, 2015)
There is, apparently, a whole body of Shaft books and movies. I was only marginally aware of it, and had only watched the film. So I can’t really comment on how Walker interacts with the vast majority of Shaft canon and lore.
This first volume of the comic is a prequel to the Shaft that I’m familiar with. He’s not yet the bad man that we know from the movie and song. He’s a guy home from Vietnam, getting into boxing and trying to find his way in the world.
Of course Shaft’s Harlem is a bad place, and you know that he’s going to get into conflict with the crooked people running things.
This is not so much a book about plot as one about mood and character. It’s the hard boiled Shaft and the blaxploitational Harlem that he lives in. It’s not that the plot is bad, but I found the enjoyment coming from how Shaft handled things, not questioning if he would or could handle things.
My only complaint about this volume is that the art at times underwhelms. I had some problems keeping characters differentiated, action got muddy, and (paradoxically) it felt a bit too static and still.
But all in all, a solid entertaining read. I’m looking forward to reading both more of this book, & more of Mr Walker’s work.