Changa and the Jade Obelisk is a historical fantasy set in 15th century East Africa. The series follows the journey of a small band of traders as they sail across the Indian Ocean. Made up of a sorceress (Panya), an ex-pit fighter (Changa), and another ex-pit fighter (formerly known as El Sirocco, but now known as the silent Tuareg), they are intelligent and have strengths that complement each other; however, the one thing they have in common is their desire for freedom.
Sailing to Sofala, they decide to go ashore to hunt and bring on fresh water. It is a decision that changes their lives forever. Changa finds himself in the middle of a fight when Tuareg decides to help a man running for his life. Known as Amir Zakee ibn Basheer, son of the Sultan, he has stolen a magical obelisk that his pursuers will do anything to retrieve. What does the obelisk do? I have no idea, but I have a feeling it’s not good, and I can’t wait until I read issue two to find out.
I pretty much love everything about this issue. Intriguing story, great set-up, terrific art, and dynamic coloring. The paneling rocks, and the design of those ships makes the scenes come alive. The characters are complex, yet flawed, as we see glimpses of their foibles which define their relationships. Plus, the main female character - from what I can tell so far - is not Changa’s love interest, and she has agency of her own. What’s particularly nice is the addition of the backstories of the main characters at the end of the issue in graphic novel format instead of prose. My one tiny quibble is that Tuareg’s face should have hints of blue on it from the dye of his veil. (For those of you who don’t know, the men in the Tuareg tribe of North Africa wear veils, not the women. If you want to know why I know this, you can email me.)
This is an extremely strong start to what I hope is a continuing series.
Creative Team: Robert Jeffery II (writer), Matteo Illuminati (artist), Loris Ravina (colorist), Milton Davis (creator)
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