Writer: Nnedi Okorafor
Artist: Tana Ford
Colorist: James Devlin
Publisher: Berger Books (Dark Horse Comics)
Review by Jim Allegro
Alien has more than one meaning in Nnedi Okorafor’s new Dark Horse comic. Released on December 5th under the Berger Books imprint, LaGuardia is a four-book serial about the challenges of assimilating to a foreign culture. It joins the story of shape-shifting alien beings who settle on earth with that of African immigrants who seek to do the same in America. Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka is the bridge between the two. LaGuardia #1 opens with the Nigerian-American doctor’s secreting an alien though customs at LaGuardia Airport to her grandmother’s South Bronx tenement.
LaGuardia is an example of Afro-futurism from an award-winning science fiction and fantasy novelist. Okorafor (Black Panther: Long Live the King) deploys the allegory of shape-shifting aliens who arrive on earth to illuminate the African Diaspora’s struggle with the xenophobia and racism of the Trump era. The clever way in which Future smuggles ‘Letme Live’ past immigration officials reminds us of the discrimination that foreign nationals of color often experience in America.
That the comic manages to make this serious point in a light and entertaining manner is a credit to the creative team. The writing is playful, almost teasing. As such, it lacks the heavy-handed messaging of recent comics about immigration such as Image’s Days of Hate. My only complaint is that the narrative is skewed away from the aliens and toward the humans. Orokofor has yet to reveal much about these shape-shifting beings. Hopefully, future issues will address how and why exactly their came to earth and decided to co-habit with humanity. Instead, she fills that space with an interesting sub-story about Future’s lover, a Nigerian professor-activist, who stands up to the anti-alien immigrant climate sweeping his country.
The artwork makes a perfect complement to this fun and subtle comic book. Ford’s characters are boldly drawn. The humans are animated in body language and facial expressions and the aliens are suitably unwieldy in composition. Perhaps the most interesting character in this comic book is Ford’s rendition of Future’s locks, which take center stage at LaGuardia. Devlin bathes the characters in deep greens, blues, and purples that fit the thoughtful and flirty pace of the narration.
Verdict: Buy It!
LaGuardia #1 is social and political commentary told in a fun and entertaining way. I recommend it as a BUY.