Tomorrow’s Free Comic Book Day is full of familiar faces. Publishers big and small. Launching new titles, previewing existing ones, hyping what is to come — there’s a lot to choose from.
But there is a lot of familiarity. Pretty much every book is from a publisher you know, a creator you’ve heard of, or a character already in your mindspace.
One standout exception is Malika, Warrior Queen from YouNeek Studios. Created by Nigerian writer Roye Okupe with artists Chima Kalu and Raphael Kazeem, it has a very distinct and different cultural background to everything else on display.
Set in 15th-century West Africa, Malika: Warrior Queen 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 free issue is a preview of the graphic novel, to be published on June 6th (while that hasn’t been announced, this seems a good enough place to do so).
Not every store running Free Comic Book Day will have this in stock. Some will have a very limited number of copies. But amidst the Secret Empires, the Street Fighters, and Doctor Who, this might be worth picking up, if you get the chance.
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