Antar: The Black Knight, written by Nnedi Okorafor, Art by Eric Battle, Colors by Jason Scott Jones, Letters by Thomas Mauer, Edited by Sohaib Awan, IDW Comics

Now that we’ve gotten past all the attributing artists that made even just this FIRST issue possible, let’s get to the review, shall we?

Antar, or Antarah, is a historical figure who left behind a vast collection of poetry–the only proof of his corporeal form. He was an African slave to the Arab, Prince Shedad who was also his father, by way of rape.

Nnedi Okorafor has become something of an author crush for me lately, and so when I saw this first issue in my local comic shop, I jumped at the chance to grab the last copy on the shelf. Okorafor also wrote the novella trilogy, “Binti,” which I am teaching in my American Literature class, connecting it to concepts of identity and James Baldwin. The first installment of Binti is fantastic–one of the most interesting SF pieces I’ve read in quite some time, even though it is shorter than 100 pages. As soon as I saw who had written Antar, I couldn’t NOT by it.

The first issue of Antar tells the story of how Antar came to be a camel driver for his father, how he fell in love with a young woman–also a slave–only to lose that love and be picked for his own primal fury as a warrior-slave.

The production is worth the price of admission as well. Each page takes on a color tone or sequence, that creates an atmospheric experience to live in. The pen-lines are impressionistic at times, with liberal crosshatching that serves the purpose of a frayed or tenuous reality–in which Antar lives. The colors characters wear on their person are rich, and even those that could be garish take on a darker, earth-toned shade, as though they have the sand of the desert rubbed into them.

Interestingly, on my first read through I was intrigued by the story–but not fascinated–now that I go back through, examining the production, the writing, the style, I find myself far more interested in where this piece will go. Certainly worth the $4 you’ll spend on it.


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