Tuskegee Heirs: Flames of Destiny #1 Review - Straighten up and fly right
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
I heard about Tuskegee Heirs a couple of years back. My first impression of the IP was that the art direction and concept from Marcus Williams, Greg Burnham, and Omaka Schultz were amazing. The anime influences were on full display and blending it with American history was an inspired choice.
The pencils and concept will draw you in immediately. The cover is beyond impressive, the characters exude swag, confidence, look cool, and stand out as a nice contrast to against anything being published and on the shelves today.
The homage to the Tuskegee Airmen isn't just lip service. There are a lot of historical nuggets throughout the issue that will leave you wanting to know more about the era and the brave men and women that served in the unit. The idea to combine historical reality with science fiction isn't new but it is different to use African American characters to tell a story like this. I would have loved to see the pitch for this story. It's unconventional, but it works.
The book is set in 2096. Manned flying has been outlawed. Our POV character, Abel is the latest recruit for the Tuskegee Heirs. A group of young pilots flying in secret under the tutelage of their leader, Colonel Mars. All begins well enough as Abel gets his feet wet. Things get very real, really quick as the situation escalates from a training drill into a full-blown rescue mission.
It would be an understatement to say that this comic looks great. The IP would make a great animated series or video game. I could easily see a flight sim with these characters similar to Star Fox or Ace Combat.
The biggest complaint that I have to lob at the issue is that although I appreciate the art there isn't enough distinction between the characters. The costumes for the heroes are great but the characters bleed together outside of the varying skin-tones.
The easiest comparison I could make would be to compare the Heirs to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before they got the distinctive bandanas. I'm sure the design choice is intentional to keep with historical accuracy but it leads to my second complaint.
The strongest personality between the heroes belongs to Slip. Slip acts as the most hot-headed and reckless of the group. I imagine that he was a favorite character amongst the creators. I could see him as the most popular character if the IP ever gets a multimedia presence. He gets the best lines and moments of the issue.
Able is the new kid and gets the benefit of being the de facto avatar for the reader, but aside from those two characters the rest of the crew is interchangeable. This isn't necessarily bad as there are two more issues to this series, and they can be fleshed out as the story develops.
The stories pace is excellent and we get a basic rundown of the situation via exposition before launching into the action. The book doesn't give away all of its secrets and ends with more questions than it answers.
As it stands, Tuskegee Heirs is a great introduction to this world. The creative team deserves a lot of praise for their efforts. It's really hard to create a compelling IP from scratch and that's exactly what the team has done here.
If you haven't checked out Tuskegee's Heirs you should. The series is definitely worth your time and consideration. I will be reviewing issues the second and third issues down the line.