Roye Okupe has turned Kickstarter into a standard business model for his comic book series. Malika: Warrior Princess is the third major offering from YouNeek Studios to use the platform to pay for printing and distribution. His previous graphic novels E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams, Part I and Part II also used the platform and became so successful they have won a Glyph Award as well as distribution by Diamond in comic book stores, and Diamon also featured Malika during this year’s New Comic Book Day. I have been a fan of Okupe’s for a while so when I got the chance to read the full Malika TPB, I jumped at the chance. What makes Malika different from Okupe’s previous offerings is that instead of taking place in a futuristic version of Nigeria, this story takes place in the fictional ancient African country of Azzaz ruled by a Queen and warrior named Malika.
Malika is the youngest of two royal daughters of the ruling king and queen, both Malika and her sister were raised to be warriors. However, we learn almost immediately that not only did her sister die young, Malika feels responsible for the circumstances surrounding her death. A brilliant tactician as well as a fighter, Malika’s list of enemies is long. First, she has rebel factions within her her army, who not only don’t believe a woman should rule but believe that her Uncle, (who Malika believes is behind the death of her royal parents ), is the rightful ruler of Azzaz. Next, she also is dealing with a foreign army slowly encroaching on her territory and threatening war. The leader of this army is General Cheng, who on an expedition for the Ming Dynasty, has been covertly terrorizing the country in search of legendary Dragon Stones, (think Infinity Stones which control the five elements) with energy that can be placed in inanimate objects or even some humans. Finally, many of her elders wish to side with Cheng, because they fear him and don’t think that the Azzazian army is strong enough and a traitorous element who wishes to hold a position of power in the court of the powerful General.
The one person besides Malika who can see through Cheng’peaceful ruse and supports her unconditionally is also the only one who has been able to defeat him is King Bass Kazaar, also known as The Windmaker. Bass is the leader of a neighboring country Atala, (technically under Malika’s rule)which was fractured by civil war and taken advantage of by the Ming dynasty. He saw firsthand what Cheng’s army was capable of, but defeated him when he took possession of one of the aforementioned stones which gave him the power of one over one element – Wind – and although he can’t really manipulate all of the weather (like Storm) he has the power to create controlled strikes of gale force winds efficiently and precisely. Bass, Malika, her trusted advisor and Sergeant-At-Arms Abdul-Nasser also share a very big secret, one that could change the tide of war and one that must be kept hidden at all costs.
What I think
Written by Okupe himself, Malika is a beautifully drawn book with covers by Godwin Akpan, and interiors drawn by [find this name].Paul Louise-Julie, who drew the maps and the assisted in the Azzaz world building. Unlike EXO, which had a slower start, this work takes off right from the beginning and slows down in the middle. The illustrations demonstrated pretty consistent skin tones and line work and easy to read dialogue and I would easily recommend this book to teens and up. There is a bit of blood and gore as one would expect during the fight scenes, but not to excess. I think the most powerful thing about Malika is her unwavering dedication to the preservation of her people and their land. She suffers no fools and has had to make many difficult choices as a leader, a warrior and spouse. The world building is epic, (like Game of Thrones epic) and it took me a couple of reads to understand the extent of the kingdoms and factions here and I wonder if two less battle scenes and a little more exposition might have streamlined the story a bit and let us really get to know the characters more. I only hope that we get to see more of that in Part Two. As per usual, Okupe offers Malika in full TPB form and not as individual issues which means that you get a lot for your money in 148 pages you will not be bored!
TBG Review Rating*
MALIKA WARRIOR QUEEN PART 1 (CHAP. 1-6)
print and digital $14.99
WHERE TO BUY:
and Your Local Comic Book Shop!
(If your shop doesn’t carry Malika, Tell them to Order it Today!)
Creator, Writer and Art Director: Roye Okupe
Pencils/Inks: Cima Kalu
Colors: Raphael Kazeem
Cover Art/Concept Art: Godwin Akpan
Ming Dynasty concept Art:
Chiyi Ming Lee
Leslie Ng Kazuki
Logo and Map Design: Paul Louise- Julie
Editor: Ayodele Elegba
*Rating System: A rating of 1= poor writing/storyline and poor artwork/lettering while a rating of 10= Excellent writing/storyline and High-quality artwork/lettering
• Did you read Malika? What do you think? comment below!