Comics / Comic Reviews / Comic Strips

Aaron McGruder: Public Enemy #2: The No-Spin Boondocks

By Leroy Douresseaux
August 21, 2005 - 11:15

Mr. Charlie #64 meets the new Boondocks collection, PUBLIC ENEMY #2.

I’ve read three of the four collections of The Boondocks, including the two big collections, A Right to be Hostile: A Boondocks Treasury and the recently released PUBLIC ENEMY #2 (a reference to a record by the seminal rap group, Public Enemy). As much as I love The Boondocks, I find that it can be too much of a good thing in terms of a the treasury collections. A big collection is a relentless assault of pointed political commentary, bitchy celebrity observations, and McGruder’s contrary opinions. There’s so much of it that even the most ardent Boondocks fans will find a lot with which to disagree. I certainly did, but I’m glad this unapologetic social critic is not only trying to make The Boondocks one of the most successful comic strips ever, but he’s also not pulling punches.

Still, this is the best Boondocks trade collection since the first book, The Boondocks: Because I Know You Don’t Read the Newspaper. As the subject matter of McGruder’s strip has become more controversial (because, let’s face it, he’s not a fan of our Republican-dominated national government or much popular culture of which the public is quite fond – reality shows, hip hop, celebrity wealth shows, etc.), his writing is more boastful, confidant, and bold. Here, is a list of subjects that he tackles with delightful edginess:

· B.E.T.’s (Black Entertainment Television) low brow programming which emphasizes cheaply produced films featuring predominately black (and often untalented) casts, raunchy music videos, and reruns of TV series from UPN, a sister network of B.E.T.
· CNN news personality Aaron Brown’s shameless shilling for the Bush administration and its Iraq War.
· President Bush
· Former National Security Advisor and current Secretary of State Condoleesa Rice’s alleged lesbianism.
· The 2004 Presidential campaign
· A fictional black-oriented reality show entitled, “Can a Nigga Get a Job?” – a parody of NBC’s “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump.

In fact, it is by no means a cliché to say that this just scratches the surface. McGruder also takes time to take several black public figures and celebrities to task including Whoopi Goldberg, Queen Latifah, and Kobe Bryant. Actually, I didn’t burn out on this treasury as much as I did on A Right to Be Hostile. I was sad that this book ends with strips from early November 2004 – too early for McGruder to comment on the results of the 2004 national elections.

In Public Enemy #2, it’s possible to see McGruder growing as a storyteller over the course of a year and a half worth of strips, but he’s also become more scathing as a sociopolitical commentary. At this point and still with a lot of room with which to grow, McGruder often offers the best and most consistent critique of American politics and culture – more than enough reason to buy this book. In an age when mainstream political, social, and cultural commentary comes across as either silly and sarcastic or bigoted and narrow-minded, McGruder seems to have a clear head. He takes no prisoners, but he’s fair. He certainly doesn’t consider himself a sacred cow.

Many of his critics come across as racists, either jealous or intimidated that a black man could be an intellectual heavyweight whose critical eye is so dead on about our society. I’m glad that McGruder doesn’t back down and apparently doesn’t give a damn that he makes the sycophants of the powers-that-be and of celebrities and public figures so damn mad. To him I say, keep on with your bad self.

For more of my informed opining, visit NEGROMANCER

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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