Strikeguard,June XII and my personal favorite Ekun these are merely a few of the characters spawned by the much loved Vortex Inc.From the gritty persona presented by Agbara to the witty delinquent warrior of a teenager that is Ekun, vortex has had some success in merging two completely different cultures and brought to life as Somto Ajuluchukwu would put it “a counter culture“.
For a while now we have had to ponder over some very perturbing and essential issues, are our heroes African? ,how do we make them African? I don’t exactly have the answers to those questions, in fact I am not sure anyone does but Vortex Inc’s spiritverse might be giving us a notch in the right direction.
If you have read my previous articles then you probably know my stand on African superheroes and how I believe they will affect this industry in the years to come, if that is a case then you know I am not a fan of Africans in spandex or mere knockoffs of popular characters from the other industries, that said I would also like to state my opinions do not necessarily make me rigid,I see myself as an open minded writer simply trying to do my part in the grand scheme of things and that is why you find this article before you.
As far as I am concerned vortex is not completely innocent but yet again I find it very difficult to prosecute them….so to speak! Take strikeguard for instance, this is a character I have mixed feelings about, initially the tights put me off but as I started reading his title I began to appreciate the more African elements that became characteristic of his book.
Taking a critical look at the character Strikeguard is one of what vortex call spirit heroes….. nice name but reminds me too much of superhero …..anyway aside the fact that he wears tights….a factor I personally think contributed to a less organic flow of events in the story…the American elements end right there and the rest is purely Nigerian …..lets take a look shall we?
When Strikeguard is not out taking down evil he is Abolaji Coker an undergraduate at the university of Lagos who has a ton of issues to deal with….a major issue been getting a solid relationship going with his would be girlfriend Chichi….now I know what you are thinking it is starting to sound a lot like Peter Parker in the early days…..true but the difference is Vortex own it! Coke….mind if I call him that?…comes with his own identity and has real everyday uni issues that a lot of undergraduates ( Nigerian ones ) have to deal with, his tights have got those nice African looking question mark symbols on them….what do those mean by the way?…and his origin story just flows from there , there is also Ajagbeja who brings a bit of ancient Africa to modern times…who wouldn’t love that….they got all that right and they just had to force tights into the story, perfect way to ruin it on so many levels!
You see what I’m talking about a prime example of how our culture is forced to kowtow to the demands of another, but even so it beats Guardian prime who is fending off classic alien invasions, catching airplanes and dealing with his own version of Argus or Shield ….Jade reminds me too much of Amanda waller…what? can you blame me? Gaia is not even African to begin with and the prime guy of Africa is so dependent on her to understand more about himself…I mean if you wanted a goddess of the earth Asaase Yaa and Olukun were available!
Recently though I love the direction they have been trying to push Guardian Prime in ….at least they got Maame Wata in there… but you still can’t shake that Superman feeling! He and the Extremes even speak some proper Nigerian Pidgin nowadays but it does not help that they have been labelled as parahumans…..be honest if a typical Nigerian man (not the comicbook nerd one) sees a kid who can ran like Max what is the first thing that would pop into his mind?….hint ,it certainly ain’t remotely close to parahumans!
The thing is vortex get it and they put everyday Nigerian people in their stories, comic republic does the same sometimes after all Eru and Ireti are living proof but vortex really make me feel the Nigerian something with the minibuses and the corrupt politicians and the ancient African martial arts ….seriously if you have not read Ekun read it! The kid is a typical spoiled Nigerian brat….and the funny looking drivers, that is the stuff!
I mean yes Vortex sometimes make a few mistakes but they always remember it is first and foremost for a Nigerian audience, Sannkofaman is another issue for me because he deals with real problems in Africa like pollution and is a normal African guy who was fortunate enough to study outside……the tights are not by force guys!….but at least I look at him and no one superhero comes to mind…that is for me …that said he is still awesome!
Now this is the character I personally believe illustrates what the African warrior is about more than most of the characters mentioned above, despite his similarities to Shadowhawk I would not exactly call his outfit tights but more like some sort of ceremonial garment. He definitely gives an African feel from his outfit to his origin to his personal life now that is an African warrior!!
So like I said earlier I am not sure but Vortex is definitely unto something and as far as I can tell the rest of the industry is not far behind, the only thing left to do is stick to our culture and yes at the moment we may not be perfect but we can definitely learn from our mistakes!
Visit vortex at Vortex247.com