Agbara is the land of the spirits. Agbara is a guardian spirit. Agbara is a spirit opposed to Chukwu, the creator. Agbara is the high priest of the ancestors. Agbara is many things. The running theme through its many descriptions is that, Agbara of the Igbo peoples of West Africa, is a giant footprint of spirituality, the abstract and the mysterious.
Agbara is a comic by Chima and Kelly Kalu and a delightful syncretism of Igbo religious beliefs and imported Christianity. The comic is about a fallen angel banished to earth because of her refusal to take sides in a war between gods and demons.
The story starts off with a heavy hearted monologue by a god, a secret admirer and the unfortunate banisher while a father and daughter, servants of the Igbo gods, pray by a river.
The hero, Agatha, falls from the sky into the custody and care of the duo, most likely a tampering with fate by the secret admirer god. What should be a rosy beginning quickly goes sideways in the name of misplaced revenge, resulting in the possible death of one of Agatha’s new friends.
What will follow? A display of residual angelic power, further fate tampering or sorrowful helplessness? The next issue will answer that. Meanwhile, a cambion, the offspring of a demon and human with a large red cross burned into his chest bares his soul in a Catholic confession box. He might share a similar fate with Agatha. They could be allies or they could be enemies. I pray they’re enemies.
Agbara is Vortex Comics’ first title with a female lead and is sure to spice things up in the Vortex universe. The blending of Igbo culture and the Christian concept of angels and demons sounds interesting and daunting. I can’t wait to see how the creators guide readers through such a maze. It is my hope that they don’t confuse us when they blend the Igbo pantheons with other myths. The story has many possibilities and I’m curious to see how creative the production team takes it.
The comic’s few pages reinforce the reality of unstable electricity, (mis)interpretations of traditional beliefs and identity issues. It also drops hints of Igbo concepts like Chi, Ogbanje, river gods and more. It’s a nicely packaged opportunity to learn about the Igbo and the effects of religion.
Agbara’s art employs dark tones and executes lighting impressively. The coloring is okay and not as sharp as I would have loved but works in capturing ambience and emotion. Agatha’s costume is very simple, a white tank-top over blue pants. She also wears a cowry laced rasta hairdo and red beads on her right wrist. The beads remind me of Strike Guard. Maybe Agatha is Strike’s true love?
My excitement meter for Agbara wavers between 2.5 and 3, the maximum being 5.
Have fun reading Agbara here.