By Miller C. Lashbrook
Black Panther: World of Wakanda is the perfect companion piece to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther (2016) storyline, “A Nation Under Our Feet” (Read my review of it here). Coates’ Black Panther book at the end of the day is T’Challa’s story; so, even though his book features many side characters, there is not a lot of time to see the story from their perspective.
Black Panther: World of Wakanda wonderfully fills in those gaps. In Issue #1 we get a backup story by Yona Harvey showing the villainous Zenzi’s backstory and Issue #6 by Rembert Browne brings back Kasper Cole a.k.a. the White Tiger. The majority of the story however in Issues #1-5, written by Roxane Gay, follows the story of the Dora Milaje Aneka and Ayo. This story is romantic, heartfelt, and tense. It is a great queer superhero story and a great look into the ground level of the political turmoil that Wakanda has been through.
The two shorter stories in the series about Zenzi and Kasper Cole are interesting and entertaining. This series is worth the read, however, for Roxanne Gay’s story about Aneka and Ayo. We watch the two women grow from students at the Upanga, the training grounds of the Dora Milaje, to running a rebellion in Wakanda as the Midnight Angels. Their story is a story of rebellion, of confidence, and of love.
The story of rebellion is present as Ayo and Aneka become disillusioned by their country. They begin to realize that the justice system of Wakanda is letting women slip through the cracks and horrible men walk free. This story was timely in 2017 when it was written and is still timely today. Narratively it also makes sense that if one of the primary military forces in Wakanda is all-female, they would question whether or not their country is one of equity.
The story of confidence is the main internal conflict. Aneka and Ayo both throughout the story learn to find confidence in themselves, rather than the validation of others. They learn to lean on each other for reassurance as they seek justice.
The story of love is the primary reason to read this book. In this book, you get to watch Ayo and Aneka fall in love and manage their relationship as they create political change. As a queer person, it was refreshing to read a gay love story where coming out or prejudice was not the primary conflict in the relationship. There is of course some hesitation, but it has more to do with them being Dora Milaje, not the fact that their relationship is a queer one. Their relationship is present in Coates’ Black Panther run, but in this series, it is a focus. Seeing their relationship brings a lot of needed context to their story that only enhances what they do in the main Black Panther book.
I cannot recommend this mini-series enough!
5/5 Vibranium Staffs ⚕️