A while ago, I started seeing a Kickstarter campaign for a new Nigerian fantasy comic, entitled Iyanu: A Child of Wonder by Roye Okupe. I badly wanted to invest in Okupe's project, as I started seeing previews of the art from the strips. Gorgeous! But alas, this was also when the world began to shut down, and everyone lost their jobs. I'm happy to see that after a year of unfortunate events, Okupe was able to complete his project and present this story to the world! I wasn't planning to write a review for this, but so many people piqued interest in the fierce glowing girl on the cover; how could I not add my two cents?
Illustrated by Godwin Akpan, Okupe and Akpan paint a beautiful story about an outcasted orphan who discovers an ancient power within herself. These powers are whispered throughout the Yorubaland kingdom as a prophecy that the royals are trying to squash. First of all, I cannot get over the design of this project. Okupe picked the right person to convey his artistic story. These images excite you enough to keep turning the page. The story itself, though …
I'm rooting for the story of Iyanu. I WANT this to be a hit graphic novel. But I think we have some ways to go. The world-building was A-1, but the storyline was confusing to follow. There weren't many explanations given to the reader to help digest the tale. It does help that there is background on the story, terms, and history, but it's towards the novel's end. I suggest reading the back pages first before diving into the fable.
Overall, I rated Iyanu 3-stars. I'm not going to lie. I am a bit disappointed. The debut didn't come out as stellar as I hoped it would. I'm sure the pockets of emptiness will be filled with later issues, but I consider this, like all other mangas, a small preview of what's to come. I'm still hanging in there!