Avengers: Wakanda Forever #1
Writer: Nnedi Okorafor
Artist: Oleg Okunev
Colorist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Terry and Rachel Dodson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Review by Nico Sprezzatura
After years of bad blood, it’s finally time for the Dora Milaje to finish what their former sister Nakia started in this week’s Avengers: Wakanda Forever #1, the finale of Nnedi Okorafor’s three-part “Wakanda Forever” storyline. Since there’s a lot riding on this conclusion, does it wrap things up satisfyingly?
As mentioned, Avengers: Wakanda Forever #1 is the third (and final) chapter of Okorafor’s Wakanda Forever, even if its title and numbering don’t signal as much. This isn’t the first time Marvel has used a confusing release strategy for one of their titles —their recent Marvel Rising prequel had a similar problem— and it makes me wonder how successfully Wakanda Forever will reach its target demographic. How is a casual reader coming to comics from Black Panther supposed to know that Avengers: Wakanda Forever is part of a series if it’s not advertised as such? I doubt Okorafor herself had any say in the matter, so that makes it doubly frustrating.
But on its own merit, Avengers: Wakanda Forever more or less sticks the landing of its overall arc. The plot of Wakanda Forever involves Okoye, Ayo, and Aneka as they face off against the corrupted Nakia, who’s being puppeted by a nefarious, otherworldly force. After teaming up with Spider-Man and the X-Men to fight her off, this installment sees the Dora Milaje combine forces with none other than the Avengers. (Well, kind of. More on that in a bit.)
Those who aren’t familiar with the source material of Black Panther probably aren’t aware of Nakia’s tragic face-heel turn, so the premise of Wakanda Forever might be jarring to them. The individual titles bring you up to speed sufficiently enough, but still, a villainous Nakia may prove to be a major deal-breaker for fans of Lupita Nyong’o’s portrayal of the character.
That’s not to say Wakanda Forever on the whole is unenjoyable — quite the contrary. The Dora Milaje have been long overdue for their own series, and Wakanda Forever has delivered on that front. Fans of the Black Panther movie, regardless how they feel about Nakia being evil, will have plenty to enjoy about this one. (Maybe not this chapter specifically, but generally speaking.)
As I alluded to above, the Avengers are barely a component of this story, which makes the decision to publish Wakanda Forever as distinct titles even more baffling. While Spidey and the X-Men were substantial factors in their own chapters, the Avengers don’t really have much of a presence here — but I highly doubt they’re the main draw in a Dora Milaje, so that’s more of a nitpick than anything.
Oleg Okunev’s art here is basically on par with his Wakanda Forever predecessors: clean and expressive. You don’t want a comic intended for new readers to be overly experimental or esoteric, and I think Okunev understands that. Colorist Erick Arciniega’s palette is muted and earthy, save for a few spots that call for unnatural coloring — his Nightcrawler, for example, is very blue. Overall, Okunev and Arciniega are a good match for one another and consistent with the artists that have come before them on this title.
The Verdict: Buy it.
Avengers: Wakanda Forever #1 is a satisfying conclusion to Nnedi Okorafor’s Dora Milaje epic — just make sure you read the first two chapters first.