DELEGATES #1 by Tina Cesa Ward, Bin Lee, Sabrina Deigert, & Leigh Walls
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
DELEGATES #1 will entertain readers looking for political thrill, shocking surprises, and a refreshing depiction of government with women in charge. A strong plot and art make this an exciting first issue.
96 %
POWERFUL

Imagine Fulawodaabe, a fictional, landlocked country in Africa. In this setting, DELEGATES #1 spins a refreshing yarn of political intrigue and action. The comic offers a well-paced story from writers Bin Lee and Tina Cesa Ward, as well as art by Sabrina Deigert and colors by Leigh Walls.

Boasting strong, dynamic characters, and a plot full of surprises, DELEGATES #1 is a stellar start to an exciting new series launching on comiXology.

DELEGATES #1
Image courtesy of comiXology.

How DELEGATES #1 Is Politically Relevant

One of the greatest strengths of DELEGATES #1 is the way it balances an inventive plot with political urgency. The comic opens on the raising of a flag over the new country Fulawodaabe. A sickle design on the red, white, and blue field hints at a recent workers’ revolt. The installation of President Kokumo, a woman, marks a promising future that will shortly be wrecked.

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When a coup rattles the country, the president, her bodyguards, a rogue reporter, and her badass secretary Hembadoon embark on a dangerous escape. The action escalates quickly as insurgents enter the cabinet, taking hostages and blocking the president’s posse at every turn. Tackling themes beyond the realm of the political, DELEGATES #1 creates a world of secrets, where no one is who they say they are.

DELEGATES #1
Image courtesy of comiXology.

For example, Hembadoon’s many layers of identity make her the comic’s protagonist and most interesting character. Halfway through DELEGATES #1, she slips off her heels for a more sturdy pair of boots. The wardrobe change marks a character shift as well. To the reader, Hembadoon becomes more than an imported American secretary. She is also a woman with the strength to strike a violent insurgent. These kinds of character secrets keep DELEGATES #1 fresh. They reveal the creators’ ingenuity.

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DELEGATES #1 Puts Women of Color in Power

First and foremost, DELEGATES #1 includes positive representation in positions of power. For example, the first time readers meet President Kokumo, she gazes out from behind a window of her office. We don’t yet know she is president. The colors of her skin and outfit are clouded by the glass. The grays of her office and the reflection surround her. In essence, she is separated from the reader by a literal “glass ceiling.”

DELEGATES #1
Image courtesy of comiXology.

In the next panel, however, President Kokumo overcomes this symbol of oppression. We see her now from the other direction, the pane of glass behind her. A smile crosses her face. The words she speaks match her newfound power: “It is good to feel respected.” As a woman of color, Kokumo earning the presidency is a triumph on two fronts. Her accomplishment is intersectional. Throughout the first issue, in depictions of both the president and the rest of its population, DELEGATES #1 defies preconceptions of what kind of people can hold power.

Ultimately, representation is only as good as the visuals it relies on. With such an urgent political message depending on them, Deigert’s art and Walls’ colors perfectly embrace their responsibility. The lines and forms are decisive, but not distracting. The colors are bright, but not playful. They assure the reader that yes, a president can wear pink, and she can still be serious. Altogether, these images in comics like DELEGATES #1 have the power to erode all kinds of biases.

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The Verdict on DELEGATES #1

If nothing else, the sheer number of twists and turns definitely make this first issue worth reading to the last page. Strong female characters and people of color in positions of power give DELEGATES #1 an added political punch. In future issues, however, the creators should work to include different visions of life in Fulawodaabe as well. If not, they risk falling into the trap of highlighting only war and suffering in their depiction of an African country.

Overall, a compelling plot, smart pacing, and spot-on art make DELEGATES #1 a highly readable start to a series. You can pick up your own digital copy of DELEGATES #1 from comiXology here.

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