Growing up, African comics let alone African superhero comics were quite rare. My most vivid recollection is the late Frank Odoi’s Akhokhan appearing next to other western-imported comic strips in the Daily Graphic newspaper. Thanks to the digital age and new media, however, no one will have to suffer a dearth of African comics as many are now free to download or inexpensive to purchase.
An evolving band of African artists are giving breath to ink and comics are springing up all over the place, either by teams or solo illustrators. These artists are helping build an impressive library of continental comics on life, imagination, desires and the future.
I composed a list of contemporary comics back in 2016 for Accra[Dot]Alt that weave together stories that embody many of the traditions, myths and realities that many Africans experience or can readily identify. Four years on, I’ve updated this list to include some new exciting titles still in production.
African Superhero Comics
Borrowing a chapter from another page on this site,
African comics are dominated by the fantasy genre, with many creators playing with the continent’s rich supernatural legacy. Comics such as Eru, and Aje by Comic Republic are typical examples of this. Science-fiction and superhero comics are another popular genre, with the bulk of superhero comics incorporating a lot of fantasy as well.
This list covers comics from Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Let’s get into it.
When a mysterious stranger kidnaps the mother of 20-year-old Ement Legesse on their first trip back to Ethiopia, she must embark on a life-altering adventure embedded with historical conflict. Written in 2 languages & Created by an ALL AFRICAN team!
Featuring a slate of heroes including Guardian Prime, Powerboy, Nu Tech, Aje and more, Vanguard Union is the ultimate African superhero team-up.
Nearly a decade ago, Comic Republic released the first issue of Guardian Prime. This protector of Lagos and the world ushered in an exciting universe of African heroes, what some called the Avengers of Africa even though they had never actually assembled, except for in Hero Kekere where they goofed and brought out the funnies.
These characters came from all backgrounds and derived their powers from all sources, the earth, science, ancestors, gods, Orishas and more. Chapter after chapter and massive improvements in the art and storytelling later, Comic Republic has released superhero crossover book that marries all the heroes in a united battle against evil.
Read Vanguard Union here.
Kwezi, which debuted in 2011, follows the adventures of the eponymous character as he navigates the development of his superpowers in fictional Gold City (a hybrid of Johannesburg and Cape Town). In an arguably realistic representation, the hero starts out as an arrogant social media influencer, using his powers to attract attention rather than for altruistic ends. He ultimately becomes the hero he is meant to be by embracing his legacy and his new teammates.Afropolitan Comics
Check out the first issue here.
Sanu (means warrior in Sierra-leone) is a Ugandan superhero whose shocking past is not only going to change him but also the whole world in his quest to rescue his people from their own mentalities.
Sanu is available to purchase at the Uganda Museum. Digital copies can be bought by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
El3osba (Arabic for The League) is an Egyptian comic book about an Egyptian superhero team.
The Egyptian god Horus has been reincarnated and is ready to fight crime but he can’t do it alone. He is joined by 5 other heroes, Mariam (a microbiologist with healing powers), Kaf (a spell-casting Egyptian secret intelligence officer), Microbusgy (a shapeshifting bus driver), and Al Walhan (a reformed terrorist).
Who are these new superheroes running around the streets of Cairo? And how will Egypt perceive them?
Captain South Africa
Captain South Africa was the pinnacle of superheroism in the country. He was a police officer that stepped up to take down crime to a record low and became the dam wall that kept evil at bay. He suddenly vanished forever and just like that, crime and villainy flooded the streets. As cities fell into ruin with rising inequality and unemployment, something new had to be the change, someone new.
Three years later a new Captain South Africa has made her debut, she speaks of putting an end to all crime, not just saving the day, but saving the future.
Umzingeli is a bounty hunter tasked by the African Peacekeeping Force to hunt down villains who commit unspeakable crimes against Africa. Long, lean and armed with her deadly and magical staff which splits in two, the Ndebele warrior fights against corruption and for the greater good. She constantly battles her greatest nemesis, the “sadistic and emotionless” Tesla Morgan.
Jember, the first Ethiopian Superhero comic book! Amanuel Tilahun is a recent college graduate desperately searching for a job in the bustling city of Addis Ababa – until his life is suddenly changed when he comes across extraordinary powers. But who truly is JEMBER? Where did his powers come from? How will it change his life?
Karmzah follows the story of Morowa Adjei, an archaeologist who lives with cerebral palsy, and who amazingly gains superpowers through her crutches enabling her to be able to become her superhero alter ego, Karmzah. She uses her newly acquired abilities to do incredible and astounding acts of heroism and make the world around her a better and safer place. It’s definitely a comic worth reading for all action and superhero story lovers.
Learn more about Karmzah and where to read it.
The Fifth Element
Saving the planet earth proves to be much harder than Quin expected especially since the people she is saving the planet for are the very cause of its steady demise. Can she live up to being the superheroine she has been called to be? Can she live up to being The Fifth Element!
The Fifth Element is a series of climate change awareness comics created by Mwelwa Musonko.
Read The Fifth Element.
Lovemore Garwe returns home upon learning the news of his father’s murder. With no clues, no evidence, and no leads, the police can’t do anything. It is then that Lovemore chooses to dig into the mystery, outside of the law. Gearing up in self-made body armour and tools, he takes to the seedy underbelly of his home town of Harare. Where he finds more questions than answers.
This gives birth to Razor-man, a Zimbabwean vigilante superhero striking at the underground crime world that has infested his city.
Amazing Tek Kids
3 heroic kids get sent back into time to stop an evil mad genius from reversing the future to his will.
In a far future, an evil Nigerian scientist who is bent on world domination cracked the quantum space-time continuum theory and created the time machine. His intent is to reverse reality in the past so he can reign supreme in the future.
But a group of young special elite tact division of the Nigerian police force cadet team jump time with him to put an end to his ungodly campaign, equipped with futuristic gadgets and abilities they are put in an unwinding pursuit against the mad doctor.
Moongirls is an adult graphic novel series that follows the adventures of 4 Ghanaian supersheroes with varying superpowers. Through an afro-futurist lens, they fight for an Africa free from patriarchy, corruption, pollution, war, neo-colonialism, homophobia…an Africa Free period.
Shore Wanda tells the story of a Kenyan woman who discovers overnight after a worldwide cataclysmic event that she’s got superpowers (like the strength of a thousand men and super-intelligence) and is also the last descendant of a race that’s lived alongside humans for thousands of years. Shore Wanda uses her powers for good in a world full of suffering. A world that has never accepted her.
The story was created and published by Kenyan artist Movin Were. The comic is available to buy at local comic shops and conventions in Kenya. Check out this positive review of the comic by Movie Jabber.
E.X.O: Legend of Wale Williams
E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams is a superhero story about redemption, set in a futuristic 2025 Africa! The plot follows Wale Williams who inherits a suit with superpowers from his missing father. Tricked into returning home, Wale embarks on a journey to investigate his father’s mysterious disappearance. E.X.O. was written and created by Roye Okupe.
Buy E.X.O. Legend of Wale Williams here.
New Men by Collectible Comics flips the script on superhero narratives. It’s the near future, and the common news is those who face death without fear are given the abilities of gods – superpowers. Citizens are running into burning buildings in an attempt to gain these powers. Few succeed. Most die.
In Africa, you prove a threat to the government’s rule, you get whacked. No questions asked. Governments see these surviving super freaks as a threat. They are not going to have it. That’s why they hire SHADE to hunt and kill these superhumans. And she is okay killing whatever they point her to… as long as she has a drink first. This is the world of NEW MEN. This is the action-packed biopunk thriller not to miss.
These are just a few of the African superhero comics out there. We’ll update this post as more become available.
Cover image via YouNeek Studios.