Clock Striker Vol. 1: I’m Going to Be a Smith

Clock Striker Vol. 1: I’m Going to Be a Smith
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Saturday AM - 978-0-7603815-7-1
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2023
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9780760381571
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

Is a manga-style graphic novel produced by an African-American writer and an artist from Niger cultural appropriation? For anyone who bothers themselves about such matters it’ll be a thorny conundrum.

Those who don’t concern themselves with such ideas will be immediately captivated by the teenage Cast. She’s a Striker, which in practice means she’s being trained by Philomena Clock to be a Smith. To the wider world they’re a surprise as the organisation and their trade as engineer warriors were assumed to have been eradicated. They’re introduced in a fast-paced opening chapter dismantling a dangerous device from their past and easily seeing off the thugs who covet it. That Cast has a mechanical hand doesn’t hold her back in the slightest. Her talent is only matched by her enthusiasm, and both are channelled when Philomena arrives at her school performing a passing impersonation of Mary Poppins.

Frederick L. Jones piles on the agonies of Cast’s past during an extended look at her deprived background that leaves no doubt as to her nature and values. Jones constructs that background to induce sympathy and has constructed the series background to open the door to maximum possibilities. Clock is the only surviving Smith, and sees her duty to locate the dangerous technology of her era scattered about the place and to disable it, preventing it from causing wider harm. Naturally enough, there’s an opposite view that the technology should be acquired and placed in the hands of those able to do maximum damage with it, and Jones spends a couple of chapters with them in the middle of I’m Gonna Be a Smith!

The plot fair rockets along, and that’s also down to the kinetic art of Issaka Galadima who takes Japanese manga style as his influence, almost as an applied theme, but pours a lot of detail into every panel. There’s a phenomenal amount of work on show, although at times there’s too much crammed onto a page making it difficult to work out what’s going on.

It’s likely readers will consider that a minor problem as they become wrapped up in Cast’s ongoing story. She discovers more about the past, and more about the world of the Smiths, as her unpredictable adventures take wild turns to ensure most readers will mark down the continuation as a must have.