Set in a near future Nigeria, Wale Williams is the son of a workaholic scientist, Dr Tunde Williams, whose absorption in his work leads to a tragedy that tears their family apart. Unable to deal with being near his father anymore, Wale takes off after promising to carry away some of the research that Tunde fears will be used for evil purposes should it fall into the wrong hands. Leaving behind his childhood sweetheart, Zahra Martins, he goes walkabout for five years, returning to Lagoon City only after receiving news of his father’s death.
Unfortunately, Lagoon City is a lot different from what Wale remembers. Rife now with a criminal element calling itself The Creed, the gang’s merciless thugs terrorize the inhabitants of the Omile neighborhood, answering only to a leader known as Oniku. Wale intervenes in a mugging but otherwise wants little to do with addressing the problem, disappointing his activist brother Timi and their entrepreneurial friend Benji. But then Creed robots attack the Williams estate, involving Wale whether he likes it or not.
During the attack, Wale uncovers an exo suit left for him by his father, and uses it to defeat the robots and stop them from attacking other innocent civilians. But his heroics draw the attention of various factions with their own motivations, and soon Wale is fighting more than just random crime while uncovering family secrets that threaten all of Lagos, if not the entire country and more.
This was a really terrific, modern superhero story that reminded me a lot of turn of the century Valiant Comics, tho perhaps with a greater sophistication. I loved the Nigerian setting and how badass Zahra was, tho in all honesty my favorite character is probably the practical, irreverent Benji. While the plot isn’t too out of the ordinary for a superhero comic, I did enjoy how it wasn’t just a superhero vs a supervillain — the many competing interests made for a really believable story.
The art is outstanding throughout, but particularly in the action sequences. I did prefer the earlier panels set in the daytime to the ones further in which were set primarily at night. After a while, the latter started to grow murky to the point of drabness: realistic, but not as visually appealing in my opinion. I did like, tho, how this book both resolved its primary plot points while leaving others open for exploration in the next volumes. And I’m really excited to see how this title and Malika: Warrior Queen intersect! We saw a hint of that in the final pages of Malika’s first volume, so I’m really eager to read what happens next.
E.X.O. – The Legend Of Wale Williams, Part One by Roye Okupe, Sunkanmi Akinboye & Raphael Kazeem was published today November 9 2021 by Dark Horse Books and is available from all good booksellers, including