La Guardia #1: Alien Nation Meets MIB By Way Of Little Shop Of Horrors

by Brendan M. Allen

Set in an alternative world where aliens have come to Earth and integrated with society, LaGuardia revolves around a pregnant Nigerian-American doctor, Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka who has just returned to NYC under mysterious conditions. After smuggling an illegal alien plant named ”Letme Live” through LaGuardia International and Interstellar Airport’s customs and security, she arrives at her grandmother’s tenement, the New Hope Apartments in the South Bronx.
There, she and Letme become part of a growing population of mostly African and shape-shifting alien immigrants, battling against interrogation, discrimination and travel bans, as they try to make it in a new land. But, as the birth of her child nears, future begins to change. What dark secret is she hiding? 
Written by Nnedi Okorafor, Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winner (Who Fears Death, Binti, Akata series) and illustrated by Tana Ford (Silk, Duck!), the team behind Black Panther: Long Live the King #6.

In LaGuardia #1, Nnedi Okorafor introduces an alternate world where space aliens made first contact in Lagos, Nigeria. In the years they’ve been Earthbound, the extraterrestrials have integrated reasonably well into Nigerian culture and society. They’re slowly gaining traction around globe, but of course there are destinations where the newcomers are more welcome than others, and places that are outright hostile.

A very pregnant Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka lands in NY with a sentient (illegal) alien plant that calls itself Letme Live. Future smuggles her friend through security and has to deal with a set of tight-assed TSE agents who scrutinize her situation for a few reasons. She’s coming in from Nigeria, where all those aliens live, and she’s definitely pregnant, so there’s a question of birthright citizenship. Leave alone that Future is a US citizen. Matters not. Appearances are everything.

Tana Ford and James Devlin bring visuals that slyly blend science fiction elements with realistic scenes of political unrest. The character designs are incredible. The human folk all have distinct, memorable looks and show a wide range of of blatant and subtle emotional cues. The aliens are widely varied in size, color, and species. Settings are rich and detailed. This is a beautiful book, well worth a second and third pass to catch details missed the first go round.

It’s not hard to find the parallels between LaGuardia and current world politics. Okorafor takes a hard look at xenophobia and racism through a science fiction lens. That airport scene encapsulates several relevant issues that immigrants and marginalized groups face on a daily basis, without preaching or dipping too hard into clichéd tropes. This has definitely been done before, but LaGuardia feels new and fresh.

LaGuardia #1, Dark Horse Comics, released 05 December 2018. Written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, color by James Devlin, letters by Sal Cipriano.

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