Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Ronin Reads – Legend of the Mantamaji (book 1)

Title: Legend of the Mantajami (book 1)
Author: Eric Dean Seaton
Artists: Brandon Palas (penciler), Andrew Dalhouse (colorist)
Type: Comic Book
Genre: Action, Fantasy

Everyone has plans in life that often fall victim to circumstance. Elijah Alexander, New York’s hot new A.D.A., wants fame, boatloads of money, and a life with the woman that he loves. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the point of view), all this is upended when he discovers that he is the last of a line of ancient mystical warriors that defended a civilization 3000 years ago. And not a moment too soon, as a bad apple from that culture named Sirach has risen once again and is preparing to, you guessed it, take over the world. Well, okay, it’s a little more complicated than that, but either way Sirach has plans for the future and he’s not above murdering people to achieve it. To stop him, Elijah must learn the secrets of his people’s past, awaken his dormant powers, and fight for humanity as a Mantamaji.

You may notice that this looks like quite a few superhero origins patched together. We have the last of the hero’s kind like Superman (though not really), a murdered relative from Spider-Man, being raised in ignorance like most of the kids from Runaways (which, if you haven’t read this masterwork comic by Brian K. Vaughan, drop what you’re doing and get on that), the rich playboy civilian persona like Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark, and so on. But just because something has similar elements to other things, doesn’t mean that it’s bad or derivative. Quite the contrary, Legend of the Mantajami feels very original with its mythical aspect and high fantasy elements. The fact that it’s an African civilization and hero definitely helps matters.

Oh, did I forget to mention that tidbit? Yes, Elijah and the majority of his supporting cast are of African descent and the civilization is based in Nubia. In fact, the only significant white people are Noah the mentor figure and Sirach, both of whom are actually from the ancient culture which was multiracial to begin with. I feel that this was a bold choice and one in the right direction, especially with the diversity of the characters’ lifestyles and personalities. No one is bound to any archetypes; they can be attorneys, cops, working moms, activists, and so on. The only one I can see is Noah fitting too snuggly into the Obi-Wan roles, though that might just be because he looks a hell of a lot like prequel-era Ian McGregor.

I feel the need to mention that the magical aspects are visually creative in their implementation. In fact, everything is colorful and visually engaging from the costumes to the backgrounds. This could very well have been another story with a washed out palette to make it seem more adult or serious. But instead, things are distinct and pop right off the page. The diverse color scheme lends itself to a lot of color theory too, especially in the three mystical armors. The red of Sirach shows that he’s a danger to the world, Elijah’s blue represents his devotion to the law, and Noah’s green denotes his need to train Elijah because of his loyalty to his family as well as his service to another cause. There are plenty more in there, I’m sure, but far be it from me to dictate whatever you personally read into it.

The characters and concepts may not be the most groundbreaking of the modern age, but the unique way they flow together makes for a compelling and unique story. This is part of a three book series and I would definitely pick up the next two books. I also hear that there’s a live-action short based on the story by the same creator, so it seems like he’s really serious about this project. Definitely a good read and we’ll see how the rest pans out.

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