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After a high profile case that put him in the headlines, private detective John Shaft is looking for something low profile and easy that will keep him out of the spotlight and out of danger. Shaft takes a missing person case that proves to be more difficult than he initially thought. At the same time, he is hired to be a consultant on a low budget film that may or may not be based on his life, and proves to be as dangerous as any job he’s ever had. But when there’s danger all about, John Shaft is the cat that won’t cop out — even if it means squaring off against sadistic gangsters that want him dead.
Walker (Shaft: A Complicated Man) returns to his favored brand of blaxploitation with a new artistic team, including Smith (Revolutionary War: Dark Angel) and colorist Alex Guimaraes (Vampirella: The Red Room). But they make a puzzling choice: Walker's last Shaft tale was illustrated with brutality and heavy detail by Bilquis Evely and Daniela Miwa, but the new team creates a surprisingly soft, rounded-off vision. The contrast between the book's aesthetic and Walker's script couldn't be more apparent, as Shaft follows up a violent rescue mission by searching for a missing gay teenager and (slowly, quietly) confronting his own homophobia. The book is more consistent when focusing on its second plot line, which finds Shaft caught up in a cartoonish moviemaking scheme that inevitably goes south. Walker weaves the two threads together well, and manages to eat his cake and have it too both Ernest Tidyman's original Shaft and Walker's exist in the same universe, simultaneously poking fun at and honoring the character's legacy.