Africa may finally be catching up to a culture that has led the way for the better part of a decade.
A lot of people probably grew up reading superhero comics, falling in love with larger than life characters who seemed able to do the impossible but in one way or the other, were still in their own ways very human. The superhero culture dates as far back as the 1930’s where different media were used to bring alive these character role models; starting from radio, to pulp fiction, newspapers and actual comic books; it was immediately obvious that the world was falling in love with a phenomenon; lovable, endearing, deeply flawed saviors.
The influence of the superhero following can in recent times be observed with the sheer bulk of superhero movies being made and their amazing box office numbers. In 1995, Batman forever came on our screens and grossed an amazing $183,997,904. The highest grossing superhero movie to date; Marvel’s the Avengers is estimated at $623,357,910 and twenty upcoming superhero movie releases are already being heavily anticipated with trailers and teasers coming out daily. With figures like that, we’d better pray Africa is catching up.
I guess part of the much wider lure of the superhero culture lies in the simple message of unprecedented help, the knowledge, if you will, that anything is possible. So for years children and adults the world over have embraced superheros as a means to detract from immediate difficult situations or drab, mundane lifestyles. Africa although being a huge consumer of this culture had for a long time nothing to contribute to the conversation, times are changing however as a number of African superhero comic book start-ups are making moves and getting involved.
Below we’ll showcase three homegrown superhero stories that we hope to see more of;
E.X.O The Legend Of Wale Williams: This superhero story which is intended to be a trilogy already has a 136-page book available. its set in a futuristic 2025 Africa and tells the story of Wale who after being compelled home to Nigeria begins to investigate the death of his father; a brilliant engineer-inventor who leaves him a cryptic Nanosuit that grants him superhuman abilities. He saves the city from grave danger which comes in the form of CREED, a radical organization led by Oniku; an extremely intelligent and calculated sociopath.
Kwezi: Kwezi is the brain child of Loyiso Mkize and is a comic which follows the young, narcissistic teenager Kwezi who is portrayed as a cocky kid, obsessed with twitter and selfies. He discovers his superhuman abilities amid the daily hustle and bustle of the fictional Gold City which is modeled after Johannesburg. The comic is appropriately peppered with street slang and cultural references to entice its intended audience. This comic which took three years to develop is pretty well planned and already has 3 of its intended 12-parts out.
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Aje: Aje is the most recent offering of the Comic republic, which is a modest comic start-up company with the aim of making African superheroes to rival Iron man, Batman and other soon to be former favorites. In the first issue of Aje, Teni an undergraduate curses her boyfriend in a flame of wrath and purple lightning; “Koni dara fun o ni yi aye (it will never be better for you in this life),” With a start like that, I personally can’t wait to see what the rest of the series will be about.
As these young innovators continue to put in work, Africans should endeavor to support this growing market, that at its prime can guarantee us comfortable streams of revenue and outlets for our sometimes stressful lives.