Rating if the Book Were a Movie: PG-13/R

Created by/Story by: Patrick Foreman and Brian Hawkins
Script: Brian Hawkins
Artist: Marco Perugini
Letters: Francisco Zamora
Cover: Marco Perugini
Editor: Andrea Lorenzo Molinari
Publisher: Scout Comics

Going back to Marvel’s X-Men in the 1960’s comic books have always been used as a medium to address social issues in America. The way mutants were treated in X-Men was a thinly veiled metaphor for the treatment colored people were receiving in America. As the years went by the uncomfortable conversations became less thinly veiled. When the creative team at Marvel was told to put more white people in Black Panther they responded by having him fight the Ku Klux Klan.Then suddenly it seemed to stop. The number of social/political issues in comic books seemed to go way down. 

The 1980’s was a decade referred to as the “Me First Decade” and the “Decade of Greed”. It was a time of rose colored glasses when nobody wanted to admit there were problems inside our borders. We were fighting the war on drugs while the CIA was sending money to the drug cartels in Nicaragua and Panama. H.I.V/A.I.D.S. was wreaking havoc in the LGBTQ community and the sitting president wouldn’t even acknowledge there was a disease. People moved to gated communities and would not talk about crime in their area because that would drive the value of their homes down. People cared about themselves, not making our country great. When it came to what truly mattered nobody cared. 

The 1990’s weren’t much better. The war on drugs continued to be a losing battle. Crack had joined the game. It was cheaper than cocaine and the high was just about as good. Racism was rearing its head in the courtrooms as we saw colored people get far more severe sentences for crack than white people did for cocaine. On a chemical level the drugs are almost identical. Nobody cared. 

Excessive force was being used by some officers on police forces, but nothing was done about it. We had video footage of Rodney King being beaten 56 times by LAPD officers while he was in custody. Those officers were found not guilty. Civilians defended the officers actions saying that Mr. King should have cooperated and not resisted. Once again, nobody cared.

Over the past twenty years hate crimes continue to happen. Nobody cares. There are countless officer involved shootings of UNARMED black men and women where the defense is “the officer thought the suspect was armed”. Nobody cares.

During the last four presidencies Americans were more concerned about the president getting a blow job from an intern, the attendance record of a president while they were in the national guard, whether the president had a valid birth certificate, and the pros and cons of a wall a president wanted on our southern border than the social issues in our country. Nobody wants to admit that they are part of the problem. If it doesn’t help them, nobody cares.

“Black Cotton” #1 begins in Virginia. We see a police officer stop a minority who is walking. The officer wants to ask the woman a few questions. He calls out to her and she turns around. This  startles the officer and he ends up shooting her. She was unarmed when this happened. 

This situation is a social/political powderkeg. In addition to the issue of race where tensions are already high across the country the officer that pulled the trigger, Zion Cotton, is part of the prestigious Cotton family. The Cottons would be akin to the Clintons, Waltons, Trumps, Bushes, or Kennedys in our world. 

We get a front row seat as we see the legal spin doctors doing everything in their power to minimize damage and keep this from becoming a public relations nightmare. Will money make this go away? They have to hurry. The people from White Lives Matter are already assembling to start a protest.

Artwork: .75 Stars

The artwork on the interior pages of “Black Cotton” is not as detailed as some of its contemporaries. That doesn’t keep it from being powerful. The protesters make you sit up and take notice.

Story: 1 Star

Foreman and Hawkins had a stroke of genius with Black Cotton. They are flipping society on its head, making white people the minority, and telling a story that shows situations that are happening in today’s society. No more sugar coated metaphors using mutants. “Black Cotton” cuts through the nonsense and asks, “What if the roles were reversed in these officer involved shootings? Would you still feel the same way?”

Dialogue: .75 Stars

The dialogue does a magnificent job of telling the reader everything they need to know about the Cottons. We see that all they care about is how they’re perceived. With Zion shooting that woman because of a racial prejudice the family image is taking a hit right now. We get proof that the Cottons believe the right amount of money will make this go away.

Editing: .75 Stars

The lettering was on point. I like when we have a font that is in a size and color that is easy to read. I found it interesting that the headline for the newspaper was written and English while the article itself was in Spanish. I’m curious about the reasoning behind that decision. 

Mechanics: 1 Star

From the word go “Black Cotton” announces its presence with authority. The reader is left wanting to know what happens next, which makes this story very easy to fall into. It reads at a steady pace. Character development is done very well. It doesn’t take much to find yourself disliking Elijah Cotton.

“Black Cotton” isn’t afraid to create uncomfortable conversations. That’s my favorite thing about it. Read this book understanding that you are seeing things in a completely different perspective from what is happening all across America. If it doesn’t make you think there’s a problem with racism in the United States you are the problem, and you are hoping nobody cares.