Incognegro Renaissance #2 Review: An Absorbing and Racially-Charged Detective Story

Incognegro Renaissance #2 Review: An Absorbing and Racially-Charged Detective Story

Posted by March 13, 2018 Comment

Incognegro: Renaissance #2
8.5 / 10 Reviewer
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Writer: Mat Johnson, Artist: Warren Pleece, Letters: Clem Robins, Cover by: Warren Pleece, Designer: Richard Bruning, Digital Art Technician: Adam Pruett, Editor: Karen Berger, Associate Editor: Rachel Roberts, Publisher: Mike Richardson, Publishing Company: Dark Horse Comics, Release Date: Out Now, Price: $3.99

After a meeting with Van Horn proves unfruitful, Zane’s friends help him with a makeover so that he can pass completely in white society. This allows Zane to enter the whites patrons-only (the performers and dishwashers can be black) Cotton Club to interview a woman about the death of Xavier.

Incognegro: Renaissance #2 cover by Warren Pleece
Incognegro: Renaissance #2 cover by Warren Pleece

Incognegro: Renaissance #2 continues off the critical concept-rich first installment with a more traditional noir reporter-detective narrative. The idea and implication of passing is still at the forefront of the story, and this actually drives the noir detective theme even further. Subversion and using aliases is a common component of this type of story. Even then, passing is a more interesting take on the idea given the ways it plays to psychology and societal inequities. Plus, it’s arguably more perilous for the person practicing it, both physically and psychologically.

Those attempts at critical analysis aside, this issue also just has a better rhythm and flow to it. The first installment had to set up the scenario of the murder and Zane’s investigation. This one follows the investigation itself, and you get to see how Zane works and the obstacles in his way, many of the latter go back to prejudice.

There’s something to be said about how well Incognegro: Renaissance captures the 1920’s Harlem Renaissance era in this book. Not only is everything covered in jazz and racial strife; Zane runs across an open communist rally happening on street corner. People often forget that this movement was rising in America long before the post-WWII Stalinist Era and the Red Scare that had Joe McCarthy seeing communists under his bed.

Incognegro: Renaissance #2 art by Warren Pleece
Incognegro: Renaissance #2 art by Warren Pleece

Warren Pleece’s artwork continues to be a solid mixture of stylism with the occasional touch of realism. More detailing in the faces would be helpful, as there have been times where I’ve gotten characters confused. Also, I know why this comic is monochromatic, but I do have a partiality to comics with color artists.

Incognegro: Renaissance #2 is an engaging continuation to the brilliant premise revealed in the previous installment. Mat Johnson writes a great detective story, and Pleece’s artwork holds together well. This one gets a recommendation. Check it out.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.

(Last Updated March 13, 2018 9:15 pm )

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