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REVIEW: 'Shaft: Imitation of Life' #2 (of 4) by David Walker and Dietrich Smith


★★★★☆ (4/5)

After reading 'Shaft: Imitation of Life' #2 I'm convinced there isn't a writer more in tune with a character than David Walker is with John Shaft. The swagger, the confidence, the toughness, it's all there in his voice, you can almost hear Richard Roundtree. He's got his philosophy down too, breaking down the differences between easy money and bullshit money cases. Unfortunately for Shaft, he's got his hands full with the latter. 

A meeting about becoming a consultant on the set of a film called "The Black Dick" (not a porno) leaves Shaft with some misgivings and undecided. It did however, fall into the "easy money" category but if the flash forward is any clue it may not be that easy after all. It's an amusing scene complete with a militant director taking the detective movie a little too seriously.

Tito Salazar reemerges after appearing in the first issue and he's got another lead for Shaft on a missing persons case. Shaft's not interested but he reluctantly decides to do Tito a solid and look into it. Without giving away too much, things inevitably go sideways adding more credence to Shaft's stance on bullshit cases and this one came with a lot of hassle but without getting paid. 

Dietrich Smith is a talented penciller with dynamic vision. Smith's command of the "camera" is fluid, the perspectives ever changing, there's never a dull panel in the series. There's a natural energy that keeps the story flowing while incorporating New York cityscape as Shaft navigates different settings. Alex Guimares provides colors that go from subdued to bold depending on the action. The realistic washed out haze from the overhead fluorescent lighting in the diner might be a small detail but is executed perfectly. 

Walker's best asset is Shaft himself. A larger-than-life figure you can't take your eyes off of. It'll be interesting to see how this missing persons case will linger going forward to the two remaining issues. The art is incredible and Walker knows his hero so well, 'Shaft' is an engaging series that deserves to be read. 

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