“Coming to America” shows the inhumanity of how Africans were sold, imprisoned, and taken to the Americas. It shows the awful conditions of the slave ships as these unfortunate people were chained and given spoiled food. Death was common, and the bodies were cast over the ship as if they were insignificant. Mark Buckingham did the art for this segment, and his images are gritty, graphic, and tragic.
The narration follows the stories of 12-year-old twin siblings Wututu and Agasu as they survive the ship’s travels to the Americas and are subsequently sold. The twins have mystical connections, which I hoped would help them, but their connection to the gods does not release them from tragedy and trials. Agasu is an inspiring figure who, despite his hardships, rallies others and worships the African gods. Agasu is a true leader, but his slave status limits him and tries to suppress him. His story is tragically illustrative of the inhumanity of slavery.
I found it fascinating and depressing to watch the chronicles of the twins’ lives. They lose their original identities as they are given different names as slaves. But they retain their magical abilities, and Wututu (now called Mama Zouzou) even becomes a teacher of magic. Teaching magic and connecting with the gods seems to give her life some purpose and independence, but she is still a broken woman. Unfortunately, she cannot use her magic to better her situation. Mama Zouzou seems angry and in pain and thus serves as a fitting figure to teach us readers about the horrors of slavery. Mama Zouzou, unfortunately, doesn’t offer a beacon of hope. She does reconnect with the old gods of Africa, and it kind of seems like she summons them to America. But since they don’t help improve the lives of the slaves, I feel that Mama Zouzou serves as a bridge from the world of the gods to the world of man.
I’m not sure whether we will witness a more impactful influence of the African gods in America as the series continues. The end of the issue left me thinking that Mama Zouzou will wreak some havoc on the slave owners with the use of magic and the gods. I do think that the gods from all over the world who have come to America greatly impact the modern day. Even though we have mostly seen Norse gods, I think the African gods have a strong influence that will become more visible in future installments.
Creative Team: Neil Gaiman (Story and words), P. Craig Russell (script and layouts), Scott Hampton and Mark Buckingham (art)
Publisher: Dark Horse
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