The first thing that sucks you into the world of Visionary: Ascension is the art. The art is magnificent; the lines are crisp and the colours are joyously precise. Promo art back in May spoke of an artfully crafted narrative, and the finished product did not disappoint in the least.
Visionary follows in the shoes of the incredible manhua Feng Shen Ji; a mythological tale about confrontations between gods and men. An overplayed cliché, but one with a hook, incredible art, action packed storytelling and rich Yoruba myths.
Written by Akintoba Kalejaye, the comic gently ushers you into Yoruba cosmology with a brief introduction of what/who Elumadare, Ase, Irunmola and the Orishas are.
The first panel offers a perspective that teleports you through the rain forest beside Sango (the kick-ass Orisha of thunder, lightning, fire and storms) and Oya (Orisha of the Niger River, death and rebirth and winds) flanked by their familiars.
A caption reads:
Heroes aren’t heroes because they worship the light but because they KNOW to fear the dark as well.
That’s an interesting perspective that doesn’t romanticize the hero business and especially shows a potent human trait in even gods – fear.
What follows thus is death, incomprehensible power summons, conceit, surprise, intimidation, a power up and a super power up. The power ups are the climax to what will be an epic battle that is sadly cut short and fast-forwarded to the present where an unassuming little boy wakes from a possible coma in a hospital.
What the publishers, Comic Republic have done with this is throw the wildest rave imaginable on the eve of the most difficult exam of your life. You wished the party wouldn’t stop but it has and now you’re left with questions; such suspense is great.
With just four characters, issue #0 (aka back-story) manages to generate intense excitement. The dialogue is set up nicely to promote Yoruba with English translations on the side. It’s clear CR wants to engage the world enough to actually learn the language, similar to how one subconsciously picks up beginner Japanese reading manga.
What it doesn’t do however is clearly set up the world that’s being built nor give a solid origin story. That might be deliberate though, considering information on Yoruba cosmology isn’t very difficult to find and there’s the suspicion that the story is more about the mysterious coma-boy than the gods.
Until the next issue, we’ll never know.
Deliberate notwithstanding, it doesn’t reveal much in story but holy spicy kelewele (fried plantains) does the art impress! Stanley “Stanch” Obende, Tobe Max Ezeogu and Michael “Balox” Olasubomi really went in hard on this and there’s social media love to show for it.
If the un-featured characters from the promo images are any indication (the one above my favorite), Akintoba has a really exciting plot planned that is likely connected to Avonome, Ireti (second issue drops tomorrow), Aje, Eru and the CR universe.
Get a load of Visionary: Ascension here.
By Kadi Yao Tay (Warrior of the Ijakadi Creed)