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Malika - Warrior Queen Part One: An African Historical Fantasy Graphic Novel

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Set in fifteenth-century West Africa, Malika: Warrior Queen Part One follows the exploits of queen and military commander Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire. Growing up as a prodigy, Malika inherited the crown from her father in the most unusual of circumstances, splitting the kingdom of Azzaz in half. After years of civil war, Malika was Set in fifteenth-century West Africa, Malika: Warrior Queen Part One follows the exploits of queen and military commander Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire. Growing up as a prodigy, Malika inherited the crown from her father in the most unusual of circumstances, splitting the kingdom of Azzaz in half. After years of civil war, Malika was able to unite all of Azzaz, expanding it into one of the largest empires in all of West Africa. But expansion would not come without its costs. Enemies begin to rise within her council, and Azzaz grabbed the attention of one of the most feared superpowers the world has ever known: the Ming Dynasty. As Malika fights to win the clandestine war within the walls of her empire, she must now turn her attentions to an indomitable and treacherous foe with plans to vanquish her entire people. The story takes place in the same universe (the YouNeek YouNiverse) as the E.X.O. series, roughly 500 years before the events of Lagoon City.


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Set in fifteenth-century West Africa, Malika: Warrior Queen Part One follows the exploits of queen and military commander Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire. Growing up as a prodigy, Malika inherited the crown from her father in the most unusual of circumstances, splitting the kingdom of Azzaz in half. After years of civil war, Malika was Set in fifteenth-century West Africa, Malika: Warrior Queen Part One follows the exploits of queen and military commander Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire. Growing up as a prodigy, Malika inherited the crown from her father in the most unusual of circumstances, splitting the kingdom of Azzaz in half. After years of civil war, Malika was able to unite all of Azzaz, expanding it into one of the largest empires in all of West Africa. But expansion would not come without its costs. Enemies begin to rise within her council, and Azzaz grabbed the attention of one of the most feared superpowers the world has ever known: the Ming Dynasty. As Malika fights to win the clandestine war within the walls of her empire, she must now turn her attentions to an indomitable and treacherous foe with plans to vanquish her entire people. The story takes place in the same universe (the YouNeek YouNiverse) as the E.X.O. series, roughly 500 years before the events of Lagoon City.

30 review for Malika - Warrior Queen Part One: An African Historical Fantasy Graphic Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Was really hoping to like this more than I did! The placement of speech bubbles was incredibly difficult to follow, often leading me to read conversations (and even monologues) out of order, and often the bubbles were outside of/diagonal from the frame the exchange took place in. There were quite a few irritating grammatical mistakes. The story was heavy on exposition and background detail that was relayed in a way that felt clunky to me, but I know that's hard to do. I really enjoy the character Was really hoping to like this more than I did! The placement of speech bubbles was incredibly difficult to follow, often leading me to read conversations (and even monologues) out of order, and often the bubbles were outside of/diagonal from the frame the exchange took place in. There were quite a few irritating grammatical mistakes. The story was heavy on exposition and background detail that was relayed in a way that felt clunky to me, but I know that's hard to do. I really enjoy the character design and think the series could be a promising story as it continues -- I found the latter issues to be a big improvement over the first two or three. I bought volumes one and two at the same time, so hopefully I'll enjoy the next issues a bit more.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    I received a copy of this as part of a Goodreads giveaway. There were a lot of things I really loved in this graphic novel. Historical-fantasy set in Africa? YES PLEASE. The art was beautiful, and the details about the inspiration behind the story were great. My only critique is that the world-building and grand scale of the story make it more world-driven than character-driven. I tend to like my fantasy deep on character and a bit lighter on world and politics, so I found it difficult at times I received a copy of this as part of a Goodreads giveaway. There were a lot of things I really loved in this graphic novel. Historical-fantasy set in Africa? YES PLEASE. The art was beautiful, and the details about the inspiration behind the story were great. My only critique is that the world-building and grand scale of the story make it more world-driven than character-driven. I tend to like my fantasy deep on character and a bit lighter on world and politics, so I found it difficult at times to feel really connected with much of the cast. I did start to form a real interest in them as characters by the end, but ultimately I think it doesn't quite hit the balance between world building and character building. However, that could well resolve itself in future issues of the graphic novel.

  3. 5 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    The illustration is beautiful but the story -- can we have any comics by black authors set in the here and now? The content in this series was too soft for my liking, it is rated E for everyone.. Malika is inspiring and all but I feel like I needed more out the story and sometimes the speech bubbles are so large and awkwardly placed.. I enjoy the concept but the execution left me wanting more.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    I will do a full review after I finish Part 2 / Book 2

  5. 4 out of 5

    Arri Marie Silva (Bookish Rican ENBY)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really appreciate that Roye Okupe wrote a story to incorporate ancient Nigerian Civilization. This is is an amazing example of good story telling and attention to detail.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emma Lindhagen

    I just happened to find this in my local library. Had never heard of it before but thought it looked interesting so I wanted to check it out. I really enjoyed the worldbuilding in this story, and it's so great to see a historical fantasy that is not set in some version of Europe and instead centers an entirely different part of the world and its history. I did find the fantasy elements to be a bit tropey, but not in a bad way. Not all fantasy needs to be super unique in its magical elements but w I just happened to find this in my local library. Had never heard of it before but thought it looked interesting so I wanted to check it out. I really enjoyed the worldbuilding in this story, and it's so great to see a historical fantasy that is not set in some version of Europe and instead centers an entirely different part of the world and its history. I did find the fantasy elements to be a bit tropey, but not in a bad way. Not all fantasy needs to be super unique in its magical elements but we definitely need more fantasy like this. I didn't get super invested in the characters right off the bat, which is something I need to really enjoy a story, so on a personal level this is more of a 3-3.5 star book for me but with a work like this I'd rather round up. And I am very curious about part 2 as well as the companion series.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Thistle & Verse

    Part historical fantasy and part political drama, Malika the Warrior Queen asks classic questions about what it means to be a good ruler and what price it comes at. Malika is being pulled in a lot of different directions, and I feel for her. It doesn't look like there will be an easy answer to her dilemma. I'm enjoying the setting and the maps. It looks like the story will get more focused on strategy and tactics as it progresses, so I'm sure I'll be referring to them. I felt a bit distant from Part historical fantasy and part political drama, Malika the Warrior Queen asks classic questions about what it means to be a good ruler and what price it comes at. Malika is being pulled in a lot of different directions, and I feel for her. It doesn't look like there will be an easy answer to her dilemma. I'm enjoying the setting and the maps. It looks like the story will get more focused on strategy and tactics as it progresses, so I'm sure I'll be referring to them. I felt a bit distant from Malika and overwhelmed in general. While the backstory for the political conflicts is relatively straightforward, there was a lot of lore that had to be introduced this issue.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Meepelous

    Officially according to the back this volume is rated teen. Which felt a bit too high. I would say middle grade, although I guess that sometimes equals the same thing in people's mind. But yeah, it's an action comic without any gruesome detail. Chimu Kalu, of Lagos Nigeria, has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s in computer science from The George Washington University. In 2012 YouNeek Studios was founded by Kalu as part of a long term plan to create a collection of diverse super heroes. The studio Officially according to the back this volume is rated teen. Which felt a bit too high. I would say middle grade, although I guess that sometimes equals the same thing in people's mind. But yeah, it's an action comic without any gruesome detail. Chimu Kalu, of Lagos Nigeria, has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s in computer science from The George Washington University. In 2012 YouNeek Studios was founded by Kalu as part of a long term plan to create a collection of diverse super heroes. The studio has done everything from 2D/3D animated short films, TV commercials, show openers, music videos and much more. The library also has his E.X.O. superhero series, which is on my holds I'll be aiming to read in August list. Otherwise it does not appear as if the other contributors have any sort of substantial online presence to report back on. The summery of this volume of historical fantasy is as follows: " Set in fifteenth-century West Africa, Malika: Warrior Queen Part One follows the exploits of queen and military commander Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire. Growing up as a prodigy, Malika inherited the crown from her father in the most unusual of circumstances, splitting the kingdom of Azzaz in half. After years of civil war, Malika was able to unite all of Azzaz, expanding it into one of the largest empires in all of West Africa. But expansion would not come without its costs. Enemies begin to rise within her council, and Azzaz grabbed the attention of one of the most feared superpowers the world has ever known: the Ming Dynasty. As Malika fights to win the clandestine war within the walls of her empire, she must now turn her attentions to an indomitable and treacherous foe with plans to vanquish her entire people. The story takes place in the same universe (the YouNeek YouNiverse) as the E.X.O. series, roughly 500 years before the events of Lagoon City." Looking at the art of the volume, while certainly not for everyone, I thought for the smaller studios trying to at Marvel/DC adjacent art they get 10/10. Definitely better then a number of super hero comics I've tried to struggle through in the past. The artwork is digital but the line work is very nice, the proportions are solid, and there's even line shading with a touch of cross-hatching (rather then just colour shading which I'm very biased against). I feel like a couple of the speachbubbles felt slightly out of order, but overall, as I said, this was a technically very good book for something aiming for what it was. Which is only to say, not appealing to people who don't enjoy the super hero look at all. Gender, as far as the so-called binary is concerned, was pretty solid. The main character appears to be a cis woman who gets some very good character development. It's not super nuanced, but I think that has to do with the expectations of the target audience as much as anything else. Heterosexuality is more and more an aspect of the story as things progress, which is a bit whatever, but such is life I suppose. Race in this book has some major pluses and some minuses. The big plus was that this is a comic book set in Africa and written by an African man. There was a lot of good discourse when Black Panther the movie came out about the finer nuances of own voice representation. A Black American creator at the helm of Black Panther is obviously much better then a white one, but it would be interesting to have a more specifically African one as well as that would probably bring even more new things to the franchise. It was also interesting and very middle grade for each chapter to open with a couple sentinces about the real life inspiration behind every African part of the Malika universe. That said, in the current timeline of rising anti-Chinese racism I didn't see the black and white, main characters good, Chinese people bad, aging well. This raises a lot of questions for me that I should look more into. We shall see how that goes. Ability vs disability wasn't really present outside of everyone being VERY able bodied or dead.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    A good story burdened by less-than-serviceable artwork, MALIKA: WARRIOR QUEEN pulls a lot of strings, and dances in one too many shadows, to appear as competent as it does while yet lacking the rhetorical consistency or visual strength required to prevent readers from getting bored. An Africa-based, kingdom-spanning adventure greatly diversifies the shelf of graphic novels currently on the market. But will a lack of narrative coherence doom an otherwise clever concept? Queen Malika is intelligent A good story burdened by less-than-serviceable artwork, MALIKA: WARRIOR QUEEN pulls a lot of strings, and dances in one too many shadows, to appear as competent as it does while yet lacking the rhetorical consistency or visual strength required to prevent readers from getting bored. An Africa-based, kingdom-spanning adventure greatly diversifies the shelf of graphic novels currently on the market. But will a lack of narrative coherence doom an otherwise clever concept? Queen Malika is intelligent but defiant, and dutifully belligerent in the face of adversity. As such, after spending a number of years curtailing rebellions and unifying her kingdom, Malika is characteristically nonchalant when word of yet another uprising filters into her throne room. Is the backtalk she fields from regional chieftains any different now than it was before? Collusion has a way of poisoning even the most devoted of followers. As MALIKA: WARRIOR QUEEN continues, it becomes apparent that the queen has far too many enemies to count (e.g., assassins, political subterfuge, an invading army), and not enough allies (an advisor and a secret lover) to justify her decisiveness. For a queen, military strategist, and proven ruler, Malika isn't so skilled when it comes to fulfilling her job as an actual negotiator of hearts and minds. Whether this relieves the character of her precooked Mary Sue status has yet to be determined. The narrative doesn't focus on Malika's strengths and weaknesses, per se, but does dedicate a great deal of energy to articulating the internal politics wrought by the queen's narrow-minded focus on military victory (there are a lot of long-winded speeches in this comic). And while border defense is important, as is the staving off the forces of intercontinental dynasties, Malika is primarily smarting her way through the concerns and anxieties of five province chiefs. This conflict is what drives the story. There are splinter plots along the way, but largely, Malika's resistance to the rule of argument provides necessarily intriguing shifts in how the queen must navigate the traitors in her own ranks (in lieu of confronting her foes on the battlefield). MALIKA: WARRIOR QUEEN is best described as historical fiction, considering the creative team's heavy reliance on kingdoms, dynasties, and empires of the past. And while the story lives up to this promise, with minor hiccups in speechifying and setting orientation, the art has a longer way to go to satisfy this creative optimism. Page composition, on the whole, is obsessively complex and routinely overcomplicated. Crisscrossing character motions, angular panel arrangements, and any number of deeply convoluted inset panel sequences make this graphic novel as much a puzzle and a chore than a work of literary entertainment. Perhaps most regrettable, on this note, is that the book suffers these ailments not infrequently, but on almost every, single page. Also, the lettering is atrocious: the alignment is often poor, the grammar regularly falters, the placement of speech balloons is quite bad, and the creative team's ill-adroit use of balloon tails is, in a word, horrible. Everything having to do with the lettering in this book is unskilled and intrusive. And when combined with the title's exhaustive compositional effort, one will find themselves . . . adrift. It isn't sufficient to add that the book's character designs are crisp, studied, and strong. Or that the coloring is incredibly precise, and worthy of praise. Because, regrettably, MALIKA: WARRIOR QUEEN, in being self-published (and printed with haphazard binding), was perhaps never meant to reach professional publishing standards from the outset.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I really enjoyed this. Malika is a bit clumsy in places-- some grammatical/punctuation mistakes and confusing speech bubble placement-- but has quite good world-building. It's set in a quasi-historical Nigeria, and has place names based on actual ancient and current places/people in the Nigeria region. Each chapter begins with an explanation behind parts of the world of the fictional Azzaz kingdom, and it was neat to learn some things about West African history/geography while enjoying the comic I really enjoyed this. Malika is a bit clumsy in places-- some grammatical/punctuation mistakes and confusing speech bubble placement-- but has quite good world-building. It's set in a quasi-historical Nigeria, and has place names based on actual ancient and current places/people in the Nigeria region. Each chapter begins with an explanation behind parts of the world of the fictional Azzaz kingdom, and it was neat to learn some things about West African history/geography while enjoying the comic. The art is serviceable overall, and quite beautiful occasionally. The action scenes were easy to follow, which I appreciated. Queen Malika is a really fun character, and we see her starting to develop as a warrior queen who must discover her purpose for peace. I'm a little disappointed that most (all?) of the side characters are men thus far, other than a few flashbacks to Malika's sister. Parts of the plot seemed a little too convenient or unrealistic. The main conflict between Malika and her Council seems pretty contrived, but serves to set up an uprising storyline nicely. I don't know what to think about the fact that the main antagonists are a company of Ming Dynasty soldiers from China... what exactly are they doing in West Africa? (A reason is given, but I don't find it very compelling.) The mythology also feels more Chinese than African... unless I'm mistaken and dragons are a common theme in African mythology? I wish the mythology had felt more linked to the setting. Still, good storytelling overall, and I'm looking forward to continuing reading this series.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    Malika is a African warrior queen who has united her kingdom. Yet she still has battles to fight. The Ming Dynasty from China has come to Africa to take over. Malika has aligned herself with her neighboring country of Atala and its king Bass, who just happens to be her secret husband. She faces opposition from her counselors, but prevails in battle. This graphic novel has a lot of potential that is a bit obscured by the book itself. It is sometimes hard to follow the story based on the placement Malika is a African warrior queen who has united her kingdom. Yet she still has battles to fight. The Ming Dynasty from China has come to Africa to take over. Malika has aligned herself with her neighboring country of Atala and its king Bass, who just happens to be her secret husband. She faces opposition from her counselors, but prevails in battle. This graphic novel has a lot of potential that is a bit obscured by the book itself. It is sometimes hard to follow the story based on the placement of speech bubbles. Some of the illustrations are also difficult to decipher. I really enjoyed the fact that the African nations in the book are based on actual historical African nations. I do wish there was more development of the mythology of this world. The magical elements kind of come out of nowhere in a story based on history. I was also a little confused by the fact that the Chinese were trying to take over Africa. Why not have another African country as the enemy? That would make more sense historically.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Woowott

    3.5 The art is decent. The characters are good. The mythology is wonderful. The queen is strong but afraid of vulnerability. The king is nurturing and strong. The old men are annoying and terrible. There's some really good things going on here. The main problem was the pacing. Parts of this are very choppy and jump from on thing to another too quickly, without buildup or preamble. Smooth out the rough edges, and this will be a spectacular title.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey

    Malika fought to unite her people, and she'll fight to keep them from being conquered by the invading Chinese army. But when dissent starts to grow among her nation's leaders, will she be able to keep them united? Really colorful art is good but was sometimes distracting for this action-packed story. Good character development for Malika, plus a cliffhanger ending, makes me eager for next year's sequel.

  14. 4 out of 5

    FaceOfYo!

    This book book did exactly what it was supposed to do. Gave me insight into the series and has me excited to continue the series. The artwork was gorgeous, although there was an error or two in the panels. The story was somewhat generalized but as an introduction to the book that was understandable.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    If you are a fan of historical female centered reads (think Mulan without the dress up and in alt-reality 15th century Africa) than you will want to pick up Roye Okupe's Malika. With strong characters, a plot that has you eager for the next volume, this series is a welcome addition to anyone looking for a more diverse, female-centric graphic novel read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I don't read comics or graphic novels a ton, but this one was fun, and gorgeous, and beautiful. I loved the story coming from Africa, a setting that is often overlooked when it comes to comic book narratives. The artwork was just gorgeous, and the story is incredibly empowering. I'm really excited to read more in this series, and I'm so happy to share it with others.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Larson

    Beautiful artwork, strong female lead, under-represented setting. I appreciate the author's notes throughout on the actual regions his fantastical settings are based on. I wished for a little more character development but appreciated the richness that occasional flashbacks gave to several of the characters.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Amazing story, a strong female hero with a heart. The story drags you in on page one and doesn’t let go. I love the snippets on African history and lore. It’s so awesome to have such great characters too. Roye Okupe really knows how to build the characters and make you root fit them.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shanna

    Amazing Maliki is an amazing graphic novel. She is a strong fierce warrior who stands up to the men around her. Maliki does not let them push her around and she doesn't take their crap.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Quinesia Johnson

    It's great to see quality African American work. As a person who doesn't prefer comic style work, I found it enjoyable. The graphics were there, and the story is there. I just wish more comic writers would hurry the plot a bit more. I'm anxious to see what will happen with the sword. Great job.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kelly K

    YAAAS QUEEN I wished there was more character build in this but it was gorgeous and fun. Though for some reason it appears nobody in all of the Cleveland libraries ordered Part Two so I have some poking to do.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vincent Stoessel

    This is what the term Graphic Novel is all about. Had a great time reading this wonderful african based fantasy adventure and look forward to the next chapter.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Blithe

    Great art and excellent world building. I found the characters a bit flat though except for Malika.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hillary

    This has an unfortunate number of typos, but the art and the storyline are both fabulous. I'll have to keep an eye out for the sequel.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    3.5 stars

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tabrizia

    This one was so good and so intriguing! Can't wait for the next part!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bozhena Levine

    Amazing graphics, rich and vibrant colors, and wonderful writing. I really enjoyed this book!

  28. 4 out of 5

    ISMOTU

    A great epic tale of intrigue and warfare set in a fictional fifteenth century West Africa. The magic, mayhem, and majesty in this story are highly entertaining. Can't wait to read part 2.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    The artwork dragged me in. This is part one, and it feels like it is more of a setup. Interesting but not compelling

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda [Novel Addiction]

    This was incredibly interesting. Now I'm going to have to check out the rest of the books in the YouNeek universe.

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