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Dark Horse Will Publish YouNeek Studios’ Comics

Since 2012, Roye Okupe, has been building a universe of superheroes that spans centuries centered around African stories, crafted by African creators. Okupe’s YouNeek Studios graphic novels have joined Dark Horse as part of its’ publishing line.

Dark Horse will be publishing the entire line of previously self-published stories, along with never-before-seen bonus material starting with Malika: Warrior Queen, Iyanu: Child of Wonder, and E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams, and continue onward into new and never-before-seen stories.

In Malika: Warrior Queen, Malika inherits the crown from her father, but in the process the kingdom of Azzaz is split in half. After years of civil war, Malika finally unites all of Azzaz, expanding it into one of the largest empires in all of West Africa—but expansion will not come without its costs. Malika: Warrior Queen arrives September 7 2021.

Iyanu: Child of Wonder, the tale follows a teenage orphan with no recollection of her past. Suddenly Iyanu discovers that she has abilities that rival the ancient deities told in the folklore of her people. It is these abilities that are the key to bringing back an “age of wonders,” and Iyanu must begin her journey to save a world on the brink of destruction. Iyanu: Child of Wonder Volume 1 arrives September 21, 2021.

E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams Volume 1 is an Afrofuturist superhero story about redemption set in the bustling metropolis that is Lagos, Nigeria. Wale Williams, who moonlights as the tech savy superhero E.X.O tries to save the city from a deadly group of emerging extremists, but first he must save himself. E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams Volume arrives October 19, 2021.

Preview: FCBD 2019 Malika: Fire & Frost from YouNeek Studios

FCBD 2019 MALIKA – FIRE & FROST

Script: Roye Okupe
Art: Sunkanmi Akinboye, Raphael Kazeem
Cover: Sunkanmi Akinboye
In-Store Date: May 4, 2019
32-page, full color comic
FREE
Item Code: JAN190051

Malika, warrior queen and military commander of the 15th-century Azzazian Empire, has been flung into the year 2025, a dangerous future she’s struggling to understand. After years of moving in the shadows, she’s forced out of hiding by a sinister plot that spans the centuries. Malika journeys to Egypt to retrieve the FireFrost stone, a relic that holds the combined power of two ancient dragons, from the hands of an absolute evil! MALIKA series creator Roye Okupe and artists Sunkanmi Akinboye and Raphael Kazeem bring you an all-new story for Free Comic Book Day full of superhero action inspired by African history and culture!

FCBD 2019 MALIKA – FIRE & FROST

YouNeek Studios’ Malika Gets Animated with a Teaser and Kickstarter

Malika is here! STOP EVERYTHING you’re doing and watch this amazing, 2-minute animated teaser trailer! YouNeek Studios is bringing their hit comic book series to animation and needs your help on Kickstarter. They’re hoping to make this into a full animated series.

The animated was 100% done in Nigeria and part of the goal is to raise awareness of the growing animation and comic book idustries in Africa and the talent that call the continent home.

Review: Malika: Warrior Queen Part Two

Claire Foy’s transformation as Queen Elizabeth in the Crown is something to see if you have never watched the show on Netflix. Her performance is one of those chameleon-like, where you wonder if that really is her voice, and at least for the next few years, people only think of her as this one role. The series also stands out in how it’s told. The “palace intrigue” moves the series. It’s what makes their history so interesting as many of the people that surrounded her had ulterior motives. She is one of the most recognizable examples of royalty.

The pressures of running a country is a lot for most people but having to do that and being part of royalty, is almost impossible to do. I always wondered how it would be for a monarch when she was also a warrior? The second volume of Malika, Warrior Queen explores that as enemies abound everywhere looking to take Azzaz from Malika, something she has spent a lifetime building.

As Malika takes her place among her people, a scene right out of Game Of Thrones, occurs leaving the royal court in shock, while we lose a beloved character, a once thought long dead character reappears from the shadows, one Malika is frozen in shock over. The Savior od Azzaz and her army unleash a palace siege as they look to take over the castle, one Malika barely survives and must flee to fight another day. We are introduced to the Olon Jin, an ancient group of gods, who are tasked with guarding relics, and know that Malika is the one true queen. This is where the reader is treated to a series of flashbacks, as to what happened to out mysterious intruder and the sometimes-volatile relationships that govern parents and children. Meanwhile, Meng has gotten wind of the upheaval that has taken place in Azzaz, as this may prove to be an opportunity for his army to conquer the prosperous kingdom.

To take back the kingdom, Malika must find an ancient sword with immeasurable power, one that she wielded before, but his time, she needed more than ever. Back in Azazz, the new ruler proves ruthless and heavy handed, showing no mercy and not caring for the consequences that come out of it, even staging a public execution. A final battle ensues which leaves Malika victorious but not without the cruel hand of fate intervening. By book’s end, an unforeseen beginning for the Warrior Queen awaits.

Overall, a powerful ending to major chapter of an incredible hero, one that readers will continue to gravitate to , for years to come. The story by Roye Okupe is action packed, layered and one that readers will not soon forget. The art by the creative team is simply gorgeous. Altogether, a book that feels like an ending for many reasons but is more a rebirth for so much more.

Story: Roye Okupe Art: Chima Kalu, Raphael Kazeem, Mohammed Agbadi,
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

YouNeek Studios Returns to Free Comic Book Day 2018 with Malika – Creed & Fury

YouNeek Studios, the Maryland based graphic novel and animation company, has announced that their hit graphic novel series, Malika, will be part of Diamond Comic Distributors’ Free Comic Book Day this coming May! This time, as a One-Shot titled: Malika – Creed & Fury.

After making history by appearing in last year’s FCBD event (with fans scrambling to grab copies as they ran out at quickly at several comic shops), Malika promises to be a fan favorite once again.

Malika – Creed & Fury one shot, fans who visit their comic book shops to grab free comics during FCBD are in for a treat! Not only does this one-shot embody the epic fantasy fans have become accustomed to with Malika, but they also get to see her paired with another one of our amazing female superheroes, Fury. Seeing them both on the cover of the book should be enough to spark intrigue. You definitely don’t want to pass on this one. Here’s what Book Riot had to say about Malika from FCBD 2017.

YouNeek Studios Launches YouNeek African Heroes

YouNeek Studios has announced the release of their first ever Coloring & Activity book. The book, titled: YouNeek African Heroes, promises that readers will have fun not just coloring YouNeek’s library of awesome superheroes, but also enjoy learning about science, YouNeek fun facts, as well as history tied to the African continent while solving mazes, deciphering word games, cracking puzzles and more!

The release of their first coloring/activity book: YouNeek African Heroes coming just in time for the holidays, it’s safe to say YouNeek Studios is here to stay!

You can purchase YouNeek African Heroes – An All Ages Coloring & Activity Book here.

Review: E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams Vol. 1

Afrofuturism is one of those genre/subjects that has been getting a lot of love as of recent. In the latest trailer and movie stills from the upcoming movie for Black Panther, much of the world is getting to know exactly what Afrofuturism, means and what fans of Black Panther like myself have known for years. The concepts and characters that were introduced in Black Panther’s mythology showed to only an advanced view of technology but also of diversity. This is not to say that there were not some storylines that had some problems and as well as some characters that looks more like some stereotypes.

Unfortunately, not too many characters, unless it is from publishers in Africa, have been written about Afrofuturism in Africa, unless one counts the last take on the Unknown Soldier.   There have been American takes on Afrofuturism like Mr. Terrific and many of the characters from the Dakota Universe. Other than these examples, this has been a scarcely explored genre, which a treasure trove of possibilities that many creators are afraid or lazy to explore. So, when I found out about E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams, I was thrilled.

The reader is taken to 2025 Lagos, Nigeria, in a technologically advanced society where technology is used to commit crimes and the police are at a disadvantage against smarter criminals. This is where the reader is introduced to EXO, a superhero who questions whether he is the answer. We are given his complicated backstory, one that has echoes of tony Stark, but smarter and with a direct moral compass.  Before the end of this volume, he not only has to contend to dirty politics, rising crime, a few new allies but a supervillain, that may spell doom for Exo.

Overall, a beautiful portrait of how the world, especially in Nigeria, will look in the future, and how diverse heroes can be just as good or even better than the vanilla ones the comic book world has been flooded with. The story by Roye Okupe is engaging, action packed and provides enough twists and turns. The art by Sunkanmi Akinboye thrives and delivers as many punches as the story does. Altogether, a great book that should not be missed and will have the reader tuning in for the next episode.

Story: Roye Okupe Art: Sunkanmi Akinboye
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Windmaker: The History of Atala – The Art of the Book Series

The obsession with Game of Thrones cannot be understated, as the series, in books and on TV, has reinvigorated people’s interests in high fantasy. The melding of genres and the epic storytelling is what makes this more than a regular sword saga.  The more audiences get into each character and each book, the more interesting it gets. So, when certain events pertaining to the main plotline, are brought up, the audience is more than curious, they beckon for it.

The one event within that book series I can think of, as it has been heavily alluded to, is Robert’s Rebellion, and although George RR Martin, has given us details here and there, all the details have not been explained, just the body count. At the end of the day, past histories and prequel series are essential to worldbuilding. As they more than serve as a plot device, as they did in Sons of Anarchy, they are what make the characters who they are. Therefore, after reading the excellent Malika, Warrior Queen, I was interested in who the “Windmaker,” was.

In this prequel one-shot of sorts, Roye Okupe delves into the history Of Atala, the great nations the Windmaker, comes form. As he talks about the founding, it feels those “histories of the house of” extras on the Game of Thrones Blu-Ray. We find out about the founding, their mythology, their cartography every major figure, every major conflict, and the invasion from the Ming Dynasty, which set up the events of the Malika, Warrior Queen. By book’s end, the reader has indoctrinated into their world and will be well equipped to dive into this universe.

Overall what was billed as an art book, functions more as primer to the world of Azzaz, where Malika, Warrior Queen takes place. The history laid out by Okupe, simply shines. Th art by Godwin Akpan illuminates Okupe’s world and brings to life the world they have created. Altogether, a lushly illustrated prequel that gives a good background for any newcomer to the story,

Story: Roye Okupe Art: Godwin Akpan
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Malika: Warrior Queen Part One

When John Campbell’s book, “The Hero’s Journey”, is brought up in conversations on television and in lectures, it usually talks about male characters. The most prominent example that is brought up is Odysseus, as his journey which took many years, not only formed him as a hero but also a man, thus the hero’s journey. Another popular example, is of course, Luke Skywalker. Rarely, in these conversations, are a female protagonist, have ever been brought up.

There have been more than few characters that stand out in my mind in just about all forms of media. In To Kill a Mockingbird, although Atticus Finch, is the hero, Boo, is just as a strong a character, and almost even more integral to the plot. On TV, probably one of its most popular shows, Orange Is the New Black, is a story full of strong female protagonists, which initially focused on one the first season but ultimately expanded into just about all the characters’ stories being explored. This brings me, to one of the most interesting characters I have read in a long time, Malika, Warrior Queen.

In the opening moments of the book, we are introduced to a young lady training for battle in the city of Azzaz, little do we know, she would become the Queen of this empire. At her doorstep, is an army from the Ming Dynasty, looking to take her lands and enslave her people. She is joined by an old friend, who is known to his foes as the Windmaker, as he proves to more than just an ally, leaving her foe decimated. By the end of this volume, our heroine has gained victory but her troubles have not ended with the whisperings of evil in the form dark magic nearby.

Overall, a strong volume to a character will want to know, as this heroine is like nothing anyone has ever seen before, with traits that most writers would only give to a male protagonist.  The story by Roye Okupe feels like those 70s sword sagas and has all the grit of Conan. The art by Godwin Akpan, Chima Kalu, Raphael Kazeem, Paul Louis-Julie, Osas Asemota, Omotuyi Ebota and Collins Momodu, is pretty, lush, and masterful. Altogether, a great introduction, to a female hero that the world has always needed.

Story: Roye Okupe Art: Godwin Akpan, Chima Kalu, Raphael Kazeem, Paul Louis-Julie, Osas Asemota, Omotuyi Ebota and Collins Momodu
Story:10 Art:10 Overall:10 Recommendation: Buy

YouNeek Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

YouNeek Studios Announces Windmaker: The History of Atala

Windmaker: The History of Atala is one part art book, one part prequel that pulls from the amazing depths of African mythology, turning the fantasy genre on its head by placing familiar concepts in an awe-inspiring African setting.

YouNeek Studios, the Maryland based transmedia company, is proud to announce the release of their first art book, WindMaker: The History of Atala – The Art of the Book Series, which will be the newest addition to the YouNeek YouNiverse. This will be a limited edition (500 copies) Hardcover print run, so grab the collectors item while they’re still available!

Coming off the hit graphic novel: E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams (Parts One & Two), which was featured on CNN, Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post and more, WindMaker: The History of Atala will be the first art book in the continuity of a shared universe of graphic novels called the “YouNeek Youniverse.” Dubbed “The MCU of graphic novels,” the YouNeek YouNiverse is a combination of individual graphic novel series (E.X.O., Malika, WindMaker etc.) tied together with one continuous, overall plot that weaves through each
individual story.

Inspired by African history, WindMaker: The History of Atala (Hardcover) is one part art book, one part prequel story to both the Malika: Warrior Queen and WindMaker: Return of a King graphic Novels. Pulling from the amazing depths of African mythology, Roye Okupe, writer of the hit graphic novel series E.X.O., creates a breathtaking kingdom called Atala. With this art book, he sets the foundations for what is definitely a deep and meaningful universe (The YouNeek YouNiverse) of heroes. Illustrator Godwin Akpan’s painting breathes life into the story in an amazing way. From dragons, to mythical relics, a feuding royal family and magical swords, this book turns the fantasy genre on its head by placing familiar concepts in an awe-inspiring African setting.

Don’t forget to pick up our next title Malika: Warrior Queen at your local comic book store May 6 during Free Comic Book Day!

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