Before embarking on the detailed world of Malika Warrior Queen, it is important to mention I am a movie nerd. Born and raised, action and adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, cartoon enthusiast, and aficionado. The last comic I read was probably in middle school and it was an Archie comic, (and yes, I have watched all of Riverdale)…
Our wonderful editors seek to challenge me and gave me this beautiful graphic novel, Black Nerd Problems, am I right?. At first, I was hesitant, I can be pretty judgmental, especially when it comes to movies, acting and things of that sort. This is a whole different world – and you know I’m going to take it on. Looking at Malika Warrior Queen, I immediately was taken back to my days reading Lord of the Rings. Viewing the well-established maps and origins of the land, intricacies of the separate provinces and kingdoms, I definitely felt in my element. It even gave me what LOTR couldn’t…Black people!
We begin with Malika as a young child practicing her knife-wielding technique as her mother, the queen, approaches inquiring where she has learned these skills. We quickly see Malika is a warrior prodigy and capable of joining a regime at an early age. The scene is set informing us Malika is not next in line as heir of the kingdom Azzaz, her older sister Nadia is slotted to be queen. As we cut to the present day we see the once young warrior is now queen, leaving us wondering how she had acquired the throne.
Malika is a great warrior and Queen, whose rule is tried and questioned after uniting the lands in one unified kingdom. The series is beautifully illustrated showing an elegant and strong depiction of the characters and rich lands. Reading on, it is clear the writers and creators have extensive knowledge of African and Asian history, as well as detailed knowledge of war and battle tactics. The novel is not only an intriguing fantasy but a learning experience for the reader.
The story weaves in a number of components including, wartime heroes and villains, governing politics, strategy and elemental power. It’s like reading a cross between Black Panther, Game of Thrones, and Avatar: The Last Airbender (cartoon of course!) I enjoyed the folklore behind the mystical relics which bestow the ability to control the elements, it really brought a certain life to the piece. The complicated past between the provinces and the queen’s occupancy as ruler creates an investment in the story that goes deeper than simply picking a side. You find yourself trying to find the right or just decision as you see Malika struggle with the same. With the underlying story of love and being torn between perceived weakness and ruling with compassion, the novel builds a human story.
The love story within the piece is truly a beautiful surprise, with illustrations that bring out the magnificence in brown bodies, I found myself feeling so proud of black love. On top of that, having bad ass women of color lead is always everything for me.
I would recommend this as a read for anyone from the avid comic reader to newbies like me.