Incognegro: Renaissance #1
The five-issue sequel to the graphic novel Incognegro is one of the early releases from Berger Books, a new imprint from Dark Horse Comics. As with the previous, it’s written by Mat Johnson and illustrated by Warren Pleece.
Incognegro: Renaissance can be read without having read the previous book, because this one is a prequel, jumping back a decade to New York in the 1920s. (Given one of the shocking events of the older book, about a light-skinned black man traveling to the south to report on lynchings, this new series might be better read first.)
Zane Pinchback, the reporter able to pass as white, here is early in his career. He’s attending a fancy party honoring a white novelist who, for his comeback, has just put out a book set in Harlem. At that event, an outspoken black writer makes a spectacle of himself, only to be found drowned in a bathtub.
The authorities are determined to, forgive the pun, whitewash any potential trouble for the hosts by declaring the death a suicide, but Pinchback decides to pursue the story, convinced it’s murder. Johnson’s dialogue is great for establishing character, but the subtle expressions are so important to make this story work, and Pleece does an amazing job capturing the society feeling, complete with the discomfort felt by race-mixing, scandalous in that era.
Here’s a selection of pages from the first issue to give an idea of the style and setting. I’m eager to see where this story goes, and who’s behind the killing.
(The publisher provided a digital review copy.)