This is the latest installment of the re-vamped "Went to Tell Everybody." In the past, this was a place where comic book creators that I admire recommend cool comic book series. Now, it is place where I will spotlight a different cool independent comic book series every week based on submissions from the indie comic book creators themselves. This is an ongoing weekly feature, so there's no time limit or anything like that. So you can submit at any time. It's not a first come/first serve thing, ya know? Click here for the submission guidelines.
Today, we look at Malika - Warrior Queen, by writer Roye Okupe, artist Chima Kalu and colorist Raphael Kazeem, which is produced by Okupe's YouNeek Studios.
First off, what a striking cover by Godwin Akpan, who also did concept art for the series. Dang, that's a catchy cover.
In any event, this series is part of the "YouNeek YouNiverse," a shared continuity that began with YouNeek's first series, E.X.O., which took place in the near future, while Malika and Windrider both take place in fictional countries set in West Africa in the 15th Century.
Malika is the queen of Azzaz, a country that was torn apart from civil war due to the circumstances of Malika taking control of the country (her father was murdered by his uncle, although the crime was difficult to prove, so there were many who insisted that her uncle be the next in line to rule the country, while her mother refused to turn over control of the country to the man who she believed killed her husband, so instead Malika took over control of the nation. There was a civil war and it only recently was officially reunited by Malika.
However, even after the country has been reunited, there are those who challenge Malika's rule and the series begins (well, technically it begins with young Mailka proving that she was a great warrior even as a kid, as she secretly practices moves that she saw the Azzaz military practice. She was a natural at fighting. The series quickly moves forward to when she becomes queen) with Malika leading her soldiers into battle to put down this mini-insurrection, as we can see here in the sample pages from the comic...
Something that always impresses me is when an artist can tell war scenes well. As we have seen from many years of G.I. Joe comic books, it is often quite difficult to tell war stories with a lot of characters well, because there are so many moving parts to deal with at once and it can be very confusing, since there are so many different things going on at once. This is why you might notice that most war comics over the years have concentrated on smaller groups within the war (like an Easy Company or a Haunted Tank). Here, Chima Kalu reminded me a lot of a great recent G.I. Joe artist, S.L. Gallant, in that both Kalu and Gallant have solid storytelling skills that allow them to make these large battle sequences flow seamlessly.
In this series, there are two major things driving the plot. There is a burgeoning war with the villains of the piece, the Ming Dynasty, but thee is also the constant doubt that Malika's people demonstrate towards her decisions. One of the major problems with being a warrior queen like Malika is that that does not leave as much time for political maneuvering and thus, the politicians of her country slowly turn against her while she makes increasingly bold decisions based on her personal views of the world.
Complicating things is her secret marriage to the king of a nearby country, Atala. The king of that country is the hero known as Windrider (due to his wind powers, natch) but since their marriage is still a secret, her people don't quite understand why she is going to war with the Ming Dynasty over her refusal to kill the leader of Atala (people don't know that it is her husband).
Throughout the first volume, we also see flashbacks to how Malika came to be queen.
The first volume of Malika - Warrior Queen was a thoughtful examination into the ruling of a country, but nicely intermixed with a lot of action.
You can purchase a copy of the first Malika collection here.