by David F. Walker, Bilquis Evely and Daniela Miwa
In a way, Shaft is shaping up to be one of the best-crafted revenge stories in recent years. Each issue, Walker shapes his characters a bit more, and the story grows ever more exciting and tense. Additionally, readers each month will no doubt be continually baffled, in the best way possible, that this is a story based on the character Shaft. Walker and the rest of the creative team on the book have more than convinced that John Shaft is a character worth exploring and this story continues to raise the bar for quality story telling from each creator. In issue five, John Shaft makes strides in setting things in motion to get his revenge while giving readers a lot more information about Aletha Havens.
Marisol Dupree, the woman who set all of this in motion, is a tragic story. Her life, and the life of Aletha had crossed over years before and left the do-gooder in the crosshairs of something that had very little to do with her. Walker’s writing has been magnificent all along, and his understanding of John Shaft’s voice is never more obvious than when he crafts the monologues that weave their way through each issue. Here, the reader learns more about just how Aletha came to know Marisol and a bit more about who Ms. Dupree is. Learning more about landscape of the city, the era, and this conflict, the trust that anyone may have in another feels all the more foolish. Nothing and no one is safe. No bond is sacred, and few individuals can be taken at their word. Shaft is considered a pawn in something much larger than he, but that realization has not taken any hit on his efforts. Instead, the private investigator uses this preconceived notion to his advantage, or so he expects.
There is an incredible moment in the story that perfectly captures the inner mindset of the character. The artists and writers combined their efforts so amazingly across much of this book and it shows in moments like this one. As Shaft waits in a diner to meet with another individual about the case and what he has learned so far, there is a series of panels that show the character work through the other people he has met or worked with in his life. Bilquis Evely and Daniela Miwa leave Shaft sitting in the booth on the right, and replace, panel by panel, the occupants across from him. Each one captures a different part of Shaft, who he has been, and with whom he has found himself associated. It is an excellent moment that reflects the sense that the creators have about their story and its central character. In an issue where Shaft spends much of the sequences moving about town, learning more about those involved and the underlying war behind all of this, this is a standout scene.
The fifth issue of the Dynamite series looks to set a lot of pieces in place. Not only do readers get a lot more information about some of the characters in the story, Walker spends time explaining about the real story behind all of this and it goes much further and much higher than anyone was thinking. Evely and Miwa continue to do fantastic work in setting a tone for each sequence and environment in excellent, yet subtle ways. No doubt, with the type of closing page that rounds out issue five of Shaft, readers are due for some real excitement next time.