ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

E.X.O.

E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams, Vol. 1 is written by Roye Okupe, illustrated by Sunkamni Akinboye, colored by Raphael Kazeem, and lettered by Spoof Animation. It is published by Dark Horse Comics in partnership with YouNeek Studios. Prodigy Wale Williams lives in Lagoon City, a bustling metropolis, and has a rather tenuous connection with his scientist father. A tragic accident severs this connection and leads Wale to travel the world until he returns to Lagoon City five years later. However, the home he left is under siege by a terrorist group known as the CREED, led by the fanatic known as Oniku. To combat Oniku and the CREED, Wale dons a suit of hi-tech armor and becomes the superhero known as EXO—gaining new allies and learning new truths about his father along the way.

Afrofuturism is a genre that is slowly starting to make a more significant impact in comics, from the Black Panther mythos to Image Comics’ Excellence. E.X.O. is the first book to wholly lean into it, thanks in part to the creators involved. Okupe is a native of Lagos, Nigeria and that life experience is reflected in how the citizens of Lagoon City interact with each other. Characters’ dialogue is often peppered with Yoruba slang, and the city looks like the bustling metropolis that Lagos is in real life— a welcome departure from how Africa is usually portrayed in American film and TV.

Wale himself is a fully fleshed-out character, whose intellect and armor will no doubt remind readers of Iron Man. Yet Wale stands out due to his connections with others. His relationship with his father and uncle is a driving force behind the series, along with his will they/won’t they relationship with his ex-girlfriend Zahra. Even the computer program located in his armor serves as a confidant of sorts, teaching him how to use his armor to the best of its capabilities. The best heroes usually have people in their lives that they can rely on, and I’m glad Okupe hews close to that trope in his script. He even has a crossover with another character he writes, Warrior Queen Malika, which also serves as a taste of what to expect in her series.

Akinboye and Kazeem design a vast cast of characters who wear their superheroic influence on their sleeves. E.X.O.’s armor is a sleek, form-fitting design with golden accents and glowing blue energy pulsing throughout the chassis, which he can utilize offensively and defensively. Oniku is a towering man clad in a dark brown cloak sporting a demonic red mask that invites comparisons to the Fantastic Four’s arch-nemesis Doctor Doom. And E.X.O. even gains an ally in the form of Fury, a super speedster clad in a pink jumpsuit with golden gauntlets and blades. The fight scenes are also epic;  the fights between E.X.O. and his enemies are accompanied by sound effects that give off a unique visual flair. Laser blasts give off a “Shoom,” bullets go “tik tik tik: when bouncing off of E.X.O’s armor and a resounding red “smash” is heard when he demolishes Oniku’s drones.

E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams, Vol. 1 brings an Afrofuturist spin to the superhero genre and is a recommended read for comic fans of all stripes. I cannot wait to see the other books that YouNeek and Dark Horse have in store for this initiative, and I hope to see more of Wale Williams’ exploits in the future.

E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams, Vol. 1 is available on November 10th wherever comics are sold.


E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams, Vol. 1
4.5

TL;DR

E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams, Vol. 1 brings an Afrofuturist spin to the superhero genre and is a recommended read for comic fans of all stripes. I cannot wait to see the other books that YouNeek and Dark Horse have in store for this initiative, and I hope to see more of Wale Williams’ exploits in the future.