The first volume of King, a "comic book" biography of Martin Luther King (Fantagraphic Books), will not be misinterpreted or appropriated by neo-Nazis. Yet its power is delivered with grace and subtlety. "This isn't the media-created King who never made a mistake or got angry," says Ho Che Anderson, the artist/writer. Anderson is a Canadian black man named for Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara, and he has presented his subject as a three-dimensional human being who is still, deservedly, larger than life. We see King delivering his famous speeches, strategizing with other black leaders, going to court with Rosa Parks; we also see him cheating on his wife and crouching in jail, afraid. The artwork is breathtakingly assured and beautiful; it works as hard as the text to move the story forward. Almost all the images are high-contrast black and white, a combination of ink drawing and stark photocopies of news photographs of the time. While deep, rich textures abound, there are no shades of grey. (A semiotician's dream.) The overall effect is—well—noir. That dramatic, that polished, with that same undercurrent of violence. Of course this is the real noir: the harrowing atmosphere of the Civil Rights movement, in the American South, in the 1950s. The effect is heightened by judicious splashes of colour here and there: in the closing frames, for instance, blood-red watercolour washes appear against the black and white when King is stabbed during the lunch counter demonstrations of 1960. "Love your enemies, not kill them," King said. A radical stance at the time, when whites tortured and killed blacks at whim, with impunity. King will enrage you, but you will be pressing your own buttons. The work is free of hero-worship or cliché. Anderson calls his work "interpretive biography." It is that, and so are all biographies, even if they don't say so. King is also a powerful combination of words and images that the term "comic book" simply cannot contain.