writer: nnedi okorafor
artist: tana ford
colourist: james devlin
genre: science fiction, africanfuturism
target audience: adult
content warnings: racism (both microaggressions and big conscious acts and opinions)
my rating: highly recommended
i received a free earc of the collected edition of laguardia from the publisher, dark horse, through edelweiss. this does not impact my opinions on the book.
laguardia is a four issues long comic series written by nnedi okorafor, drawn by tana ford, and coloured by james devlin, published by the dark horse imprint berger books. the single issues came out in december 2018 to march 2019, and the collected edition will arrive in comic shops july 17th.
it is set in an alternative world where aliens have not only made themselves know to us, but have come to earth and are now part of our society. we follow future nwafor chukwuebuka, a pregnant nigerian-american doctor, who has just come back to new york after living in nigeria the past couple of years. along with her she has the alien plant letme live, who she smuggled over the border. the two take up residence in her grandmother’s apartment building, where mostly alien- and african immigrants live and fight for their rights. the story follows future through her pregnancy, as well as the mysterious reason as to why she suddenly left nigeria.
what initially drew me to laguardia was the writer, as nnedi okorafor is someone i’m familiar with from her previous works, especially her binti series. okorafor is an incredible africanfuturist writer, i’m always in awe of her way of writing characters who feel so real and raw, and her talent for creating interesting and believable sci-fi worlds.
laguardia is fast paced and captivating, and is not shy about its intentions. this is a book that takes the current immigration politics in the us, adds aliens from other parts of the universe, and tells a story about people who just want to have somewhere to live and study and work in peace. a trope that easily could have been put to use here, but that thankfully wasn’t, is the one where the real life marginalised people are now the oppressors, free of the struggles they face in day to day life. most humans with speaking roles in this comic book are black, meaning a lot of the people who are against letting aliens integrate with humans, are black. a lesser – and honestly, white – writer would have left it at that, but it is made abundantly clear that people of colour are still heavily affected by both the day to day microaggressions and the bigger, overly visible, racist acts and opinions held by people today.
the one thing i had a bit of a though time with, was the art. a lot of the time it was great, with vibrant colours and textures i could practically feel in with my hands through the screen, but every once in a while it would just feel slightly off. human proportions were not always what i’d expect them to be. i have read things illustrated by tana ford before, though, and i must say she has improved greatly the past few years and i’m sure will continue to do so. i also suspect that it comes down a bit to her personal style, and that the two of us just don’t click that well.
ultimately, laguardia is a celebration of life. life from earth and life from elsewhere. protesting and being active in support of different types of life being accepted. transcending borders and not letting you differences, skin colour or types of limbs, stand in the way of living in harmony. i mean, the main motivation for future is her pregnancy and future child. it couldn’t be more obvious. it is a beautiful sentiment, a really important look at our world, and i’d highly recommend you give it a try.