“There’s a potential danger in writing brilliant characters [but] writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman keep the story grounded…I find it very easy to see a narrative like this one unfold. In fact, it’s a little scary in that regard.”
Gang violence is not an uncommon problem that police face regularly, especially in large cities. That the various gangs are generally also inflicting violence on each other keeps any one from gaining too much power, and while I’m sure officers don’t like having to deal with the violence associated with that situation, it does mean that they almost always have the upper hand by virtue of numbers, if nothing else. But what if a gang leader came along that was able to unite the warring gangs, and turn their collective focus on something larger than their small patches of turf they lay claim to?
That basic idea isn’t new. I first saw it brought up in the 1979 movie The Warriors, though intergang violence there kept it from being addressed in anything more than passing. But what if this new gang leader was an inately talented strategist? A military mind on par with Alexander the Great or Napoleon? That leader turns up in 17-year-old Destiny Ajaye, and she has the entire LAPD scared and confused by the end of the first issue.
Most of the series, then, takes place during what the media has labeled the “South Central Siege” and Destiny repeatedly shows herself to be more than a few steps ahead of the police. She’s playing the long game, and doesn’t go for the quick, but small, victories some of her underlings aim for. So the siege that runs through most of the series is entirely expected and planned for, and allows Destiny some time to move her chess pieces into place, including those involved in gaining the public’s sympathy through media outlets. Destiny spent a lot of time planning to remove her home and its inhabitants from the hostile environment that constantly seeps into it, and to do that fully, she needs to declare her neighborhood’s independence.
There’s a potential danger in writing brilliant characters in that making them too much of genius tends to prevent readers from identifying with them. Arthur Conan Doyle solved that problem by including the more personable Dr. Watson to accompany Sherlock Holmes, but Destiny has no real sidekick in that same manner. Still, writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman keep the story grounded by making the plight itself very relatable. The real world media does an impressive job of hammering the fear of losing our homes to violence and chaos in the absence of effective law enforcement, so it’s easy to see the rationale behind Destiny’s plot. We can relate to the larger issues, even if Destiny herself seems detached and aloof.
The story is very well thought-out, and if someone like Destiny came along, I find it very easy to see a narrative like this one unfold. In fact, it’s a little scary in that regard. In the story, Detective Grey calls this a war, and it very much feels like it, thanks to Afua Richardson’s art; and even without a genius strategist like Destiny, the cynic in me says that something like this could still happen in the real world.
To be sure, Destiny’s scheme doesn’t run perfectly according to plan, but she’s also quick enough to make adjustments on the fly. Whether she successfully secedes from Los Angeles, or if the cracks in her designs eventually lead to collapse are plenty engaging enough to keep the reader entertained. Either way, the five issue story will fly by much faster than you anticipate. The first issue goes on sale August 6, and will be released weekly from Top Cow.