Legend of the Mantamaji: Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Legend of the Mantamaji: Book 1 Book Poster Image
Superhero graphic novel has African mojo, lacks clarity.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Legend of Mantamaji presents an alternate African history involving a warrior race of superpowered, magical protectors of humankind.

Positive Messages

The Legend of Mantamaji promotes the idea that people have an obligation to the generations who have come before them. Elijah craves material success, but he learns that he must honor the legacy of his superpowered mother and father. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Elijah Alexander starts the book as an arrogant attorney interested in maintaining his wealthy lifestyle. As he learns more about the legacy of the other Mantanaji, he learns some humility and begins to face his obligations to the family members who have gone before him.


The Legend of Mantamaji features many scenes of violence, with weapons that range from handguns and bazookas to magical beams of energy and fireballs. Characters do get hurt and sometimes die, but the deaths are usually portrayed with a minimum of bloodshed.


Elijah and Sydney are dating, but they're shown only flirting and kissing.


"Balls" is used once.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Legend of Mantamaji is a superhero graphic novel that features an ethnically diverse cast of characters. It depicts an alternate, non-realistic African history involving a warrior race of superpowered, magical protectors of humankind. There are many violent scenes involving handguns and magical beams of energy, and members of the supporting cast are killed. Sexual content is limited to flirting and kissing by adult characters. 

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What's the story?

Hot-shot Assistant District Attorney Elijah Alexander thinks a lot of himself, but he doesn't begin to understand the most important fact about his past. He's actually not human; he's the last of the Mantamaji, a race of warriors who protected humankind in the distant past. When a rogue member of the Mantamaji surfaces in New York City, Elijah must use his newfound magical powers to foil a villain who will stop only at the destruction of all humankind.

Is it any good?

THE LEGEND OF THE MANTAMAJI: BOOK 1 presents an intriguing take on the superhero tale, delivering an ethnically diverse cast and a lead character with African roots. But the storytelling is muddled both in the writing and the illustration. Talky, static conversations are followed by battle sequences in which it's difficult to follow the action. A little more clarity would help determine whether this is a three-volume journey that many comics fans will want to take.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why graphic novels appeal to such a wide variety of readers. What effects can the comics medium achieve that are more difficult in prose?

  • Why do so few superhero comics feature lead characters of African descent? What might be done to encourage more diversity within the comics industry?

  • Do parents ever hide important facts from their children? When, if ever, as they justified in doing so?

Book details

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For kids who love graphic novels

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