So, I’m Victor Eze. No, I’m nobody important, I’m just a fan of all things comics and manga like most people nowadays. But I can’t tell you how happy I am to be writing this short review right now for Versus: True Will Defies Belief!
Versus was one of the first comic book titles that I read when I first became aware of the then still fledgling Nigerian comic book industry. I knew there were some Nigerian comic book makers out there, but I never really knew much about them and what I managed to get my hands on was nothing more than a few issues here and there and it was kind of hard to find them as well (Especially back then).
However, with the advent of half-way decent internet services in Nigeria, more and more Nigerian comics started finding their way online and it wasn’t long before I came across ComicBandit Press and their comic download website.
Back then, ComicBandit hosted quite a few of the publishers and were the first online Nigerian-based comic download site that I had come across. It was also interesting to find out that comic bandit were also creating their own comics. I was there when they announced they would be attending the first ever Nigerian comic convention, the Lagos ComicCon, which happened back in 2012 (how time flies). ComicBandit showcased two comics at the comiccon with Uhuru: Legend of the Windrider and Taboo (an anthology series) which were both written by (Now) Nigerian comic book veteran Adeniyi Adeniji.
Soon after, the site announced the launch of its flagship title with VERSUS and I was more than a little curious to read it. The title was later released for free with 15 issues in the first volume which was available for download on their site and through various other online outlets.
When I first read Versus I must admit I was a little skeptical about how Adeniji was going to pull this off. I ‘d followed the announcements for awhile and it was interesting to see a Nigerian comic (A Space epic) that wasn’t sticking to the common and popular comic book tropes of superheroes and costumes. Needless to say, when I started reading the comic, I wasn’t disappointed. Far from it. Versus was everything mister Adeniji and the people at comic bandit had promised. An entertaining read, with a dash of Africa and Manga mixed in.
The story was simply amazing. If you were familiar with the Nigerian comics that were making the rounds back then, you’re probably aware that story wasn’t their forte. And while that seems to have gotten better with time, Versus was by far the standout comic in this regard when it came to actually reading a comic book for the story, rather than just the action. Don’t get me wrong, Versus, like many of the comics from back then, is essentially a medium used to justify large fights with incredible and spectacularly grandiose displays of super-powered mayhem. The comic is called “Versus” after all, but what I found was that Adeniyi Adeniji tried and succeeded in giving the title some much needed rhyme and reason to the wanton chaos that often came hand in hand with the kind of comics I loved to read. Great character development while easing the reader into the world of space travel and alien planets, while explaining very clearly the motives of the characters and how the powers of our heroes and villains worked, made for a rather informed read when all the fighting starts and quite frankly, that’s all I’ve ever really asked from any comic book I’ve ever read. Needless to say, I enjoyed Versus very much and as such you can imagine my excitement when Mister Adeniji asked me to do a short review on the first five issues of the volume two. I’ll admit that I’ve never really written a post about anything before. I said as much when I was asked to do this, but what Niyi wanted was a reaction from someone who was a fan of the title, so he could see if the new additions to the story matched up with the first 15 issues. And I’m definitely a fan.
Obviously, I’m not allowed to say very much, you’ll have to read it for yourself when it comes out, but what I can say is that Versus: Volume Two, picks right up where it left off in the first volume (and it doesn’t waste any time doing it too). Adeniji told me that the comic book had been written as a single graphic novel, and was originally intended to be one story. The story had pretty much been set in stone, even before Dayo Animashaun (The artist on the comic) even began drawing it. The script was done and while it may have taken a lifetime to finish the comic, the story is what it was several years ago when he first wrote it. He mentions that he was tempted to make changes, but ultimately decided against it. So, what we get from the second volume, is pretty much what it was always going to be. Something, I’m sure anyone who is a fan of the original series will appreciate.
Dayo Animashaun is one of the most hardworking artists in Nigeria. When we do a page count we discover that the Versus series is over 700 pages in all. An astounding number of pages, if you also consider that he did this the old fashioned way, with paper, pencils and inks. I always thought the art for Versus could have benefited from being a little closer to the manga style, but either way, it’s a style all of his own and the truth is, in someways, Dayo’s attention to detail and the fantastical worlds he draws lends something unique and quite different to Versus in comparison to most comics you will read. There’s an almost cinematic structure to the way the story unfolds and while the writer can take a lot of credit for that, converting the imagination of Versus’ creator to art couldn’t have been an easy task.
As to the nature of the first 5 issues of Volume 2, the story so far is what you’d expect (or want), mostly because it leaves you wanting to know more. Dayo outdoes himself in some places with the art, which makes you realize that what you’ve seen so far in the first volume was not as much as you thought. I mean, wow. It’s all out carnage from the get go. There’s a lot more story too, but all that seems to be happening simultaneously with loads of action. I’ve only read the first five issues of Volume Two, but from what I’ve seen so far it’s safe to say that there’s a whole lot more to come and with this being the final act in this long overdue conclusion to this particular story arc, I can’t say I have any idea as to how Adeniji plans to finally wrap this whole thing up. It’s something I can’t wait to see. Did I mention that this is my favorite Nigerian comic? Well, it is.