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Incognegro Renaissance #2 Review

4 min read

Zane’s path takes a turn into the Cotton Club of all places.

Creative Staff:
Story: Mat Johnson
Art: Warren Pleece
Letterer: Clem Robins

What They Say:
Cub reporter Zane Pinchback almost witnessed a murder. Now, the only true witness thinks hes the prime suspect. What could she be hiding? Zane will have to go ”incognegro” and sneak into a Harlem jazz club to track down the truth. In a time when looks could kill . . . Zane’s skin is the only thing keeping him alive.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
While I went into the first installment of this series without having read the previous work that came out a decade ago, it was pretty easy to get into. I enjoy taking in historical era storytelling since it can illuminate areas for me that I’m unfamiliar with beyond the usual way history is taught, such as dates and events, by really humanizing it. Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece put together a really solid opener that dug into a lot of the foundations for the world the characters inhabit in this period and set up the story as well with a murder. That’s always a good way to get things moving, and as a fan of international murder mystery TV shows, Incognegro basically blends together a lot of things that can make for an engaging work.

Zane’s desire to find the mystery woman that saw him over Xavier’s body is what’s motivating him at the moment since he thinks she’s likely got some answers that can help with what he’s looking for. It’s interesting to see him visit Van Horn to try and get a few clues about her only to discover that his place is trashed as he’s been looking for something. Van Horn’s problematic in a lot of ways, drinking in the morning being one of them, but he seems interested in answering questions for a little help. Of course, that’s a cue for his editor to show up and push Zane out, making the usual derogatory remarks about him and the paper in order to marginalize it all the more. And to ensure that Van Horn doesn’t say anything that would incriminate himself that they’d have to deal with and clean up later.

What should help more but doesn’t is that one of Zane’s friends who works at the Cotton Club realizes she goes there so the plan is hatched on how to get Zane in. The problem, of course, is that Zane thinks that he’d never get to her in the dining room since only servers are allowed in there and it would be too difficult. He forgets, at times, the lightness of his skin and how just a few tweaks and some confidence will let him slide right in. It’s a fun little montage with how his friends mess with him as he sets himself up on how to act and blend in so that he can get what he needs. The whole sequence and how he gets around in the club, working his confidence as best as he can, really makes for a good reading as you get more of an honest look, politely filtered to some degree I’m sure, with how the regulars in there think. It also puts Zane through the rounds in dealing with the woman, who still misunderstands things, before he ends up getting caught up in some other issues as those that are working behind the scenes realize he’s going to be a problem that needs to be dealt with.

In Summary:
The opening installment of this series had a lot going on and a lot to take in so it took me a bit to really get into the groove of it all. With the second issue there’s a greater sense of ease about it and a kind of confidence as well that’s engaging as the story itself is moving forward as we’re past the character introductions for new readers. Zane’s digging into a lot of things without realizing it and seeing some of those pressures and mindsets that exist around him really ups the intensity and sense of oppressiveness that bleeds into everything. I’m really curious to see where else it goes as what we get here, particularly with the Cotton Club, is very well done with sharp writing and some great layouts and set designs in addition to some great character work.

Grade: B+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 7th, 2018
MSRP: $3.99

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