By Junae Benne
From the creators of Exos comes Malika, a comic book featuring a black female protagonist. Malika is the queen of Azzaz. Although her mother was queen before her, people still question if a woman is fit to lead. Many of her struggles are relatable. Malika’s main struggle is showing compassion without showing weakness. As a black woman, I struggle with how to be both strong and gentle without being taken advantage of. YouNeek Studios does a really good job illustrating this struggle.
Queen Malika doesn’t have any special powers so she’s a superheorin by her wit, talent and that is how she solves problems. Malika not only deals with trying to protect her kingdom from outsiders but treason within her country. She’s not sure if the people closest to her are trying to help her or destroy her. The juiciest panel is on the last page of part one. This really has me fiending for part two. I need to know who’s loyal!
The artwork in Malika is absolutely stunning. The colours of the clothes, scenery, and artillery are gorgeous and complimentary to the characters’ skin tones. She changes outfits and headwraps frequently; it’s very refreshing and bold. My favourite look on Malika is her turquoise outfit, it pops on every page. We mostly see her turquoise clothing in battle. The panels flow together seamlessly, I love the variation of panel setups per page. My favourite pages are the ones where a single panel will take up most of the space, which causes panels to be stacked. This catches my attention because I’m forced to inspect the details.
While reading, don’t forget to take a moment and enjoy the artwork. Enjoy the weapons, armour, jewellery, clothes. Whether depicting rooms or landscapes, each environment is drawn with extreme care. In the panels displaying different battles, look at the warriors’ faces. The intensity leaps off the page.
This comic has better facial expressions than Mass Effect: Andromeda –no but, seriously Malika’s facial construction changes depending on the situation. Her face is very stern when addressing her council but takes a completely different demeanor when talking to a child. Then, her face is as soft as freshly moisturized curls. The art work allows me to experience empathy with each turn of the page.
Although this comic is named, Malika, she’s not the only character that draws your eye. King Bass of Atala is intriguing. We get to see a bit of Queen Malika’s background, therefore, I’m looking forward to King Bass’ back story in part two. You will get the sense that he plays a bigger role in the story.
Even in this introduction, Malika’s many faces are shown. We see her being gentle, courageous, cautious, fair and confused. Each emotion is developed throughout the chapters.
Chapter 1 is available to read for FREE now. Check out this series at your local shop or buy online.