One of the greatest things comics can do, in my estimation, is to introduce us to other ways life is lived here on planet Earth. That means being open to experience diversity when it comes to storytelling and the characters we find there.
One of the best series of graphic novels I’ve ever read is Legend of the Mantamaji, written by Eric Dean Seaton, with art from Brandon Palas, colors from Andrew Dalhouse, and lettering from Deron Bennett. I learned so much about the variety of cultures we encounter in that book, which is available by going to their website at this link. Very highly recommended!
So, when I came across this title, Niobe, which is subtitled, She Is Life. I was anxious to see what new experiences I would gain as a result of reading the two issues that are now available. I have to say that I was truly impressed!
Previously in NIOBE: Niobe has discovered a monastery hidden within the Ugoma Jungle. Under the tutelage of Bragnar, a wise but aging Maegrom (Dwarf), the young warrior princess has found an order of Galemren (Wild Elf) boys learning to becoming men. Feeling out of place, she finds comfort in an unlikely friend, a Sin-Grachukk (Half Orc) boy who has been accused of murdering one of the tribe. Will Niobe discover the truth in time to save her new companion from certain execution? Or will her feelings get in the way?
MORE ABOUT THIS COMIC
One of the benefits to writing reviews here at MajorSpoilers.com is that Head Honcho Stephen Schleicher will send around to us via email some comics that are sent his way in hopes of being reviewed. Sometimes I check them out, sometimes I don’t. But this one caught my attention, so I followed up on it.
The first issue of Niobe has 37 pages, and was released on Comixology on November 18, 2015. An email making the second issue available had the following information about the series included:
“The first issue was a surprise hit, filling a niche that has been underserved and also bringing in fans of the book’s celebrity co-author, actress and social media icon Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games, Sleepy Hollow). Artist Ashley A. Woods has garnered her own fair share of attention off the strength of the debut, including an upcoming Marvel project. Character creator and co-author Sebastian A. Jones brings fans of The Untamed as the book continues the tale he started in that 7 issue series which is currently in development at Film Roman as an animated television series.”
The book was released this week in stores with two covers, having a retail cover by Woods and the Retailer Appreciation Variant and a 1-per-store variant by artist Hyoung Taek Nam (The Last of Us, Uncharted 4).
Of course, I loved having a comic about a female lead character. There simply aren’t nearly enough of those going around, in my estimation. But to also have her be from a different culture, one I wanted to learn more about, was huge to me!
The story focuses on tribal cultures apparently from Africa. Most of what happens occurs in jungle environments, so the faiths of the people are very different from the one I grew up in. Since I enjoy learning more about different groups of people, I was happy to discover that I was about to go where I hadn’t been before.
Coming from what is called the “She Tribe,” Niobe is a strong character trying to avoid her past. She’s done something she was not supposed to do, and she’s struggling to figure out how to deal with it. She’s a warrior as well, so she’s used to fighting when necessary, but she also is strongly drawn to magic and resolving difficulties by other means than her fists.
When Niobe meets someone she’s not supposed to interact with and a friendship blossoms, it’s against everything her father taught her. But she finds that there are similarities between the two of them, and she decides to help this person despite what others around her say.
She’s strong, she’s cunning, she’s creative and she’s also devoted to those she feels attached to. She also spends time talking with a disembodied voice that gives her advice. I’m very much reminded of Captain Benjamin Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who was a devoted single parent as well as a spiritual person, regardless of what Starfleet preferred he believe.
The pacing is good, and even when Niobe’s talking with someone for a time, the interest remains high as we continue to learn a lot about her and the people around her.
The way Niobe is drawn and the ones around her, not to mention the people inhabiting the occasional legend or tale, is clear and dynamic. I never questioned just who was who because the illustration of all of them was sharp and easy to read.
Niobe’s clothes are displayed well, as well as the faces and the tribal garb of those she comes in contact with. Charan, for example, is a follower of fables who’s skin is bright red with yellow designs on it. She’s quite a contrast to, say, Temshen, although that male warrior’s outfit is full of subdued greens and yellows. Granted, I still feel a twinge of pain when I see how his face is adorned with animal bones, but nothing is held back in the illustration of this tale, and I like that!
What particularly struck me, though, was the use of color in this comic. In both issues, there’s not a lot of shadows seen. Instead, it’s more that the cultures are full of light, and when something does eventually fall out of the sunlight, it’s still so bright that we can see what’s there.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A Spiritual Journey Worth Taking
I imagine that the fastest way to access these books is to go through the Comixology link above. However, if you want to access more offerings Stranger Comics is making available, including The Untamed, i am awesome, Silver Blood, Dusu, Foundry, Black Eye Dog and Pinata, go to this link.
I honestly have no idea where this series will go (or any of the others, for that matter), but I’m looking forward to going there! If you like variety and diversity as much as I do, check out Niobe and the other books there!