The Urban Legend (comics)

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The Urban Legend
The Urban Legend (comics).png
Art by: Steve Baker (Newtasty design)
Publication information
PublisherGyldendal Forlag
First appearanceJanuary, 2012
First comic appearance"The Birth of a True Superhero"
Created byJosef Tzegai Yohannes
In-story information
Alter egoMalcolm Tzegai Madiba
Abilities
  • Extraordinary strength, speed and agility
  • Genius-level intellect
  • Master martial artist and hand-to-hand combatant
  • Peak human physical and mental conditioning
  • Expert tactician and strategist

The Urban Legend is an ongoing Eritrean/Norwegian comic book series created by Josef Tzegai Yohannes with art by "NewTasty" (Steve Baker). The series features The Urban Legend, a black superhero who uses martial arts skills to fight street crime.

The Urban Legend's secret identity is Malcolm Tzegai Madiba, a 29-year-old high school teacher in the fictional city of Capital City (also known as the City of God). After the murder of his cousin Justin, Malcolm adopts the alter-ego of The Urban Legend, a crime-fighting superhero committed to justice and protecting the innocent.[1][2][3]

Publication History[edit]

Series background[edit]

The Urban Legend was created by Josef Tzegai Yohannes, a comic book creator of Eritrean heritage. Yohannes was inspired to create the series after taking a trip to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. While in Africa, he saw poor children playing and was motivated to create a hero for children of African descent all over the world to look up to.[4] Yohannes named the character Malcolm Tzegai Madiba, after his father Tzegai, and the human rights activists Malcolm X and Madiba (better known as Nelson Mandela).[5]

Publication and debut at Comic Con[edit]

The series debuted in Norway in January 2012, with Issue #1 "The Birth of a True Superhero".[6] The series had its international debut at Comic Con International in San Diego in July 2012.[7]

In 2013, the first eight issues of The Urban Legend season 1 were released through Gyldendals Forlag.[8] Gyldendals Forlag published A Real Superhero in the Making, a hardcover compilation of season 1, which was released in October 2014. Norwegian publisher Bestselgerforlaget took over as publisher of the series in 2015, and published the six-issue run of season 2 as well as the season 2 compilation book, No Way Back.

The Urban Legend collaborated with Malala Fund and 20th Century Fox for the release of the 2015 documentary movie He Named Me Malala. Malala was featured in a one-page comic strip with The Urban Legend, which was released with the movie and is part of school curriculum select schools in Norway, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya and Eritrea.[9]

The Urban Legend also appeared in the American newspaper USA Today throughout 2013 and 2014 as part of a limited digital publishing deal.[10]

Season 3 will be published by Cappelen Damm, the largest publishing house in Norway. The third season is eight issues long, and is expected to be released in March 2020. In addition to the regular series, The Urban Legend also releases special edition issues, including issues about education, ebola, and bullying.[11]

Characterization[edit]

Malcolm Tzegai Madiba is an Eritrean-Norwegian. He utilizes a genius-level intellect, and martial arts training to combat streetcrime. By day he is a teacher at Amaru High School.

Supporting Characters[edit]

Allies
  • Matin: Malcolm's best friend who also works as a teacher at Amaru High School. He is a big fan of TUL and constantly talks about him with Malcolm.
  • Marco: A good cop and Malcolm's friend.
  • Mr. Fong: Owner of the local convenience store. He has lived in Capital City for 20 years and has always been a hardworking and honest man.
  • Sarah Parks: An ambitious journalist working for the newspaper "The Wire". Parks is considered the city's most effective journalist. has managed to uncover the people behind the corruption in Capitol City several times by following her gut instinct.
  • Derek and Clive: Two boys who adore The Urban Legend and hope to be just like him one day.
  • DJ Nightcrasher: A popular Capital City DJ who runs the radio show "Who´s The Urban Legend?"
  • Eden: Malcolm`s childhood friend from Eritrea, who learned martial arts with him so that they could protect their village. Eden's shadowy past eventually comes between them.
  • Walter Griffin: The Mayor of Capital City
  • Lonnie: A bullied student at Amaru High school who has no friends. His father Flint Liston is a criminal and a gunrunner. Lonnie's biggest hero is The Urban Legend.
Enemies
  • The Devil's Advocate: Reckless and paranoid criminal in Capitol City. Willing to do anything to maintain status and power. He has corrupted politicians, judges and the judiciary. His goal is to crush everything he sees as a threat. One of his closest supporters is his brutal nephew, Young Evil.
  • Young Evil: A malicious bully who is also the nephew of "The Devil's advocate". His motivation is money, power and fame. He has a bunch of trained killers, and is a manipulation expert in getting people to do as he pleases.
  • Mr. Carter: A sharp, cunning lawyer who is a close associate of the Devil's Advocate, and his legal counsel. He usually gets his clients out of the problems there.
  • Detective Fletcher: A sneaky, honor-less investigator who is corrupted by the "Devil's Advocate" criminal syndicate. He has his own group of questionable policemen who plant and destroy evidence, and who have also been involved in the killings.
  • Sugar Bear: Dishonest owner of the "Westside Story" nightclub, which is laundering money for criminal groups.
  • La Madrina: A mysterious and charming serial killer who has made all the mafia bosses his main target. She kills for fun, using cynicism, cruelty and a very cold heart. She knows the mafia can't stop her, and she plays it.
  • The Suburban Myth: An egotistical copycat of The Urban Legend, but unlike the titular hero he is motivated by a desire for fame and glory.
  • B-Gjengen
  • Guido Fratelli: Promoter of illegal fights in Capital City. His masked fighting arena has become very popular for up and coming criminals to make some money and a name for themselves in the criminal underworld.
  • Flint Liston: Low level thug who supplies gun to the criminal underworld. He has a son called Lonnie.
  • Alem: A evil henchman that has been sent to assist the mysterious Eritrean warlord in taking over Capital City.
  • Hawi: A feared mercenary sent from Eritrea to take out La Madrina for the Black Godfather.
  • Nefas: An Eritrean mercenary who controls The Fearless Hyenas.
  • The Fearless Hyenas: Henchmen of the Black Godfather sent from Eritrea to eliminate The Urban Legend.
  • Whitewash: A white supremacist, who targets cultural events and seeks to terrorize the community to promote his rccist worldviews.

Synopsis[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Cover of Season #1 (compilation book)

When Malcolm's friend, a local business owner, is robbed and assaulted, Malcolm is troubled that the assailant has not been arrested or charged. That night, the assailant, Young Evil, discusses a money laundering plan with nightclub owner Sugar Bear. They are interrupted by Justin, one of Sugar Bear's employees. Worried that Justin knows too much, Young Evil and his gang of thugs kill him in an alley near the club later that night. The next day, Malcolm learns that Justin – his cousin – has been murdered. Overcome with grief and burning with a desire for revenge, Malcolm swears that the criminals will pay. Shortly after, a young female newspaper journalist who's been covering the crimes is cornered by Young Evil and his gang on the street. Before he can assault her, Malcolm, as the Urban Legend in a yellow and black costume, jumps in to fight Young Evil and his thugs using martial arts. When police sirens are heard, the injured criminals run off, leaving the journalist unhurt and alone as Malcolm slips away, covering his suit with a long coat. Subsequently, a bounty is put on Malcolm's head, leading to the kidnapping of his friend Matin. After besting Young Evil in a showdown and saving Matin, a young reporter named Sarah Parks makes Malcolm into a hero of the people. In revenge, Young Evil lures him to a showdown with the monster Manchild, who nearly kills him. After recovering in the care of his friend Mr. Fong, he faces Manchild again. When Fong is captured, Malcolm travels to China, then Japan, to rescue him. After a successful showdown with the Seven Deadly Assassins, Malcolm returns to Capital City. After Malcolm's return, he is homeless and has lost his job as a teacher because he has been away from work too long. The city is in worse turmoil than ever.

A female villain by the name La Madrina ("Godmother" in Spanish), has her eye on ruling the criminal underworld, so is killing powerful men in the criminal underworld by seducing them. She also gets Malcolm's job as a teacher by flirting with the school principal Mannerheim. On Malcolm's first day back at school, there is an explosion. Shortly after, the Mayor is assassinated while giving a speech assuring the people that everything is under control, leading to riots in the streets of Capital City. It's all a conspiracy led by crooked cops and the Nationalist Citizen Council to trap TUL and get rid of him once and for all.

Season 2[edit]

After being set up by the crime bosses, Malcolm is sent to Bush Penitentiary as riots fill Capital City and Sarah Parks is kidnapped. After his escape from the penitentiary, Malcolm faces new enemies, La Madrina and “The Suburban Myth.” Thinking Malcolm is dead after he fell for their trap, The Suburban Myth goes on a rampage. Malcolm goes to Norway with his new girlfriend, Lise, where he gets pulled into a war between the police and the gang B-Gjengen. When Malcolm is framed for murder, Oslo goes into full mayhem. The city is saved by The Urban Legend, but not before Lise is killed. A grieving Malcolm escapes to a rural village, where he finds that he is connected to the town's mysterious folklore. The Suburban Myth and La Madrina think they have killed The Urban Legend after they set him up in a trap. La Madrina leaves town believing her job is done, but he isn't dead. The Suburban Myth goes on a rampage and The Urban Legend must use everything in his power to stop him.

Season 3[edit]

The Urban Legend has received mythical status. Stories of his heroism are reported all over the world, some real, some from the work of copycats. Malcolm returns to his teaching job hoping finally to return to peace and quiet. Soon he is confronted by a new gang that has moved into Capital City. Notably, this gang speaks Eritrean, the language of Malcolm's home country. Malcolm begins to investigate the gang and realizes they may hold the key to important information about his own past. As The Urban Legend, he tracks down the gang and confronts them about why they've appeared in Capital City and what they want from him. What they reveal only leaves Malcolm with more questions and he becomes determined to seek out the answers wherever they lead him.

In his classroom, Malcolm must deal with bullying among his students. After an incident at school, one of his students, a son of a gangster, attempts a school shooting, Malcolm must stop the violence as The Urban Legend. Problems with the Eritrean gang don't let up and lead to a new confrontation. Meanwhile, Detective Fletcher is released from prison and tries to kill The Urban Legend, but winds up killing a copycat instead. Malcolm witnesses this murder and seeks to enact vengeance for the fallen.

Detective Fletcher goes to Malcolm’s room to attempt any attack, but is scared off by a strange woman waiting at the door. The woman's name is Eden, an old friend of Malcolm’s from Eritrea. As youth, they trained to fight together. When Malcolm returns they reunite and reminisce about their shared past. They also discuss Malcolm’s father’s disappearance and how they protected the village from gangs until Malcolm went after a warlord. They still have deep feelings for each other and when Eden is kidnapped by La Madrina, Malcolm believes she has been lost for good. Despite his devastation Malcolm cannot shirk his duties as a superhero and protector of the city. However, Malcolm is given reason to believe not all is as it seems with Eden and her disappearance and it is not long before Malcolm has another violent confrontation with the forces of evil.

The Urban Legend Climate Change Cover. Art by NewTasty (Steve Baker).

Special "Cause-Related" Issues[edit]

The Urban Legend has released several special "issue" focused editions of the comic that deal with major problems facing the planet and global youth. These issues have discussed Ebola, HIV/Aids, Anti-Bullying, Climate Change, and the founding of the Norwegian constitution. These special editions are often done in conjunction with non-profits and educational organizations. Previous partners have been the Mandela Family Foundation, the Malala Foundation, and the World Wildlife Fund.

Mandela Edition, February 2014

This edition teaches kids about school, education and self-respect. We follow the story of a little kid named Biko, who is homeless after losing his parents to HIV/Aids. Malcolm is in Africa to work as a volunteer at an orphanage home, when he suddenly spots Biko and hears his story. Malcolm is deeply touched by Biko's story and takes him to the orphanage home. The orphanage home has had a lot of threats from an evil businessman who wants to remove the orphanage so he can build luxury apartments for the rich. Malcolm turns into The Urban Legend and confronts the evil businessman and teaches him a lesson he won't forget.

Ebola Edition, June 2015

This is a special edition, released in 2015, which focuses on the ebola virus. We follow the story of Memuna and Augustine, who has lost their parents to ebola and now the village they live in has banished them from living there. Homeless and with nowhere to go, The Urban Legend takes Memuna and Augustine to an orphanage home where they can live and have a home. The other kids at the orphanage teases Memuna and Augustine because their parents died of Ebola, so The Urban Legend decides to teach the kids what Ebola really is, how they can protect themselves against it and how they can fight it.

Eidsvoll Edition, February 2016

Malcolm is taking his school class to the Eidsvoll 1814 museum as part of history class, to teach the kids how Norway got their own constitution in 1814. On that same day the real constitution is being exhibited and an international crime organization are there dressed up as the police and ready to steal the constitution and The Urban Legend must use all his force to stop the crime gang from stealing the constitution.

The Urban Legend Anti Bully Edition Cover. Art by NewTasty (Steve Baker).

Anti-Bullying, February 2017

In this edition of The Urban Legend, kids learn about anti-bullying. Daniella has changed schools 3 times the last 2 years because of bullying. She has now started a new school and she is optimist that everything will better from now on, but the bullying is actually a lot worse than she has ever experienced. Leon is a jovial kid who loves music and football, but he struggles to make new friends because he is always made fun of in class by the school bully Mike. Daniella and Leon meets each other by fate and they see they have a lot in common and decide to band together and stand up against bullying with the help of The Urban Legend.

Climate Change, January 2020

Malcolm brings his class to a local conference happening on climate change. Together, they learn about the threats facing the natural environment, wild animals, and even human civilization from a rapidly shifting climate. At the conference they discuss the politics surrounding climate change and how reporting on climate issues can be a dangerous profession for environmentalists. Indigenous communities are also discussed as they are among the human cultures most affected by a warming planet. On his way home, Malcolm is contacted by his friend Matin, an activist, who is currently in the Brazilian rainforest. Matin has run into trouble with a local gang that has also been terrorizing a local tribe and destroying their ancestral lands. As The Urban Legend, Malcolm befriends the tribespeople and together they rescue Matin and run the gang off from their home. The Urban Legend's time with the indigenous community inspires him to take action against climate change once he returns home.

Cultural impact and legacy[edit]

The initial run of the premiere issue of The Urban Legend, “The Birth of a True Superhero,” sold out in Norway. In June 2015, The Urban Legend did a collaboration with the Nobel Peace Center for their 10 year anniversary.[12] In 2014, the Nelson Mandela Foundation named Josef Tzegai Yohannes as a "Mandela Ambassador" for Norway, in recognition of his work on The Urban Legend.[13]

As part of the Norwegian premiere of Black Panther, Josef Yohannes presented on The Urban Legend at the US embassy in Norway in February 2018.[14]

Reception[edit]

Awards[edit]

Josef Yohannes has received several awards and accolades for his work with The Urban Legend.

2018 - "Best Entrepreneurial Artist" award at the Nordic Startup Awards 2018.[15]

2018 - "“The Outstanding Young Person" from JCI Norway.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brian Truitt (October 15, 2013). "'The Urban Legend' fights crime on the mean streets". USA Today. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  2. ^ Brian Truitt (April 25, 2014). "New 'Urban Legend' issue reveals 'conflicted' hero". USA Today. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  3. ^ Sveinung Stoveland (December 9, 2015). "Malala blir tegneseriefigur i norsk serie" (in Norwegian). Dagbladet. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Creator of "The Urban Legend" becomes Mandela Ambassador". norway.org.za. The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria. October 7, 2014. Archived from the original on 31 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  5. ^ Yohannes, Josef (2015-05-29). "Vi trenger Malcolm Tzegai Madiba". NRK (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  6. ^ Snorre Bryne (January 28, 2012). "Her er Norges første superhelt" (in Norwegian). Dagbladet. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  7. ^ Av Mattias Mellquist (October 28, 2015). "Jeg svarte kritikerne mine med å gjøre superhelten min enda svartere" (in Norwegian). Vestby Avis. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  8. ^ Brian Truitt (October 11, 2013). "Arch Enemy rolls out second wave of daily digital comics". USA Today. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  9. ^ Espen H. Rusdal (January 2, 2016). "To superhelter møtes" (in Norwegian). Dagsavisen. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  10. ^ Truitt, Brian. "'The Urban Legend' fights crime on the mean streets". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  11. ^ "Lærer barn om ebola" (in Norwegian). Akers Avis Groruddalen. May 22, 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  12. ^ Espen H. Rusdal (January 5, 2015). "Feirer heltene" (in Norwegian). Dagsavisen. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  13. ^ Faane, Elisabeth Tobiassen. "Mandela-ambassadør". Akers Avis Groruddalen (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  14. ^ "Embassy hosts screening of Black Panther in recognition of Black History Month". U.S. Embassy in Norway. 2018-03-01. Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  15. ^ "Nordic Startup Awards | Stunning 3300 nominations achieved". Nordic Startup Awards. Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  16. ^ "JCI Norway". sites.google.com. Retrieved 2019-12-12.

External links[edit]