Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Victor LaValle's angry, brilliant, black woman mad scientist


What a powerful idea. Novelist Victor LaValle's is telling a story about an angry, brilliant black woman mad scientist. She's seeking vengeance for the shooting death of her son. So, like Victor Frankenstein, she reanimates her child.

That's the premise of LaValle's comic book Destroyer, illustrated by Dietrich Smith and colored by Joana Lafuente. The book is produced by Boom! Studios. The first issue was released this month.

We've seen several daring leading black women in comic books lately. Michonne from The Walking Dead.  Riri Williams (Ironheart), a 15-year-old taking over the reigns for Iron Man. The Dora Milaje -- former bodyguards for T'Challa -- from Black Panther. Storm and Misty Knight are also now appearing in Black Panther and the Crew. LaValle's protagonist Professor Josephine Baker corresponds in some ways to those characters, but ultimately moves somewhere else as well.

We've observed so many black mothers mourning the violent deaths of their sons over the years. But LaValle raises the provocative question: what if one of those black mothers was also an extraordinary scientist interested in seeking revenge?

In an interview, LaValle explains how his protagonist resurrected her son:
Dr. Baker is driven mad so she reanimates his actual body, the one that was returned to her after the police inquiry. Rather than taking the body to a morgue to be processed she brought it to her lab. She has used the most advanced technology available to her—technology she invented—melding artificial intelligence with nanobot technology and, finally, a little old-school sorcery.
It'll be interesting to see where he goes with the story.

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