Black Panther World Of Wakanda #1
Writer: Roxane Gay
Consultant: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artists: Alitha E. Martinez
Colorists: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Editors: Wil Moss
A review by Robert Coffil
World of Wakanda tells the story of Aneka and Ayo. These are the two Dora Milaje (Adored Ones) who broke ranks in the Black Panther comic and are one of factions in Wakanda looking to change the old hegemonic order. Aneka and Ayo have been two of the more interesting characters in the book and their absence in the last two issues of Black Panther has made the series that much weaker. Issue one of World of Wakanda is an origin story for the two women who become the Midnight Angels in Black Panther.
The Dora Milaje are the bodyguards of the Black Panther and the royal family. They are recruited from every tribe in Wakanda. We learn that the Dora Milaje used to be potential wives-in-training for the king, but that aspect has long since faded away.
World of Wakanda focuses on the budding relationship between Captain Aneka and recruit Ayo (all the events in the issue happen prior to issue one of Black Panther). It starts with Ayo and a bunch of other woman as fresh faces at the training center of Upanga. Ayo comes in brash and reckless; Aneka summarily humbles her. It’s great to see that even though the relationship starts off contentious, there is still a spark that you can see is the start of a budding romance. The book takes us from the training center to the cusp of a previous Marvel event: Avengers vs X-men. We get to see how the Dora Milaje defended Wakanda from Atlantean invasion. The book ends with a moment that shook Wakanda to the core and something T’Challa is still dealing with the ramifications of in Black Panther.
This is Roxane Gay’s first foray into comics and you can tell. A lot of her dialogue is very “on the nose”. It lacks the subtlety and power that emanates from Coates’ Black Panther. It doesn’t help that there is a back-up story by Coates at the end of the issue. You can see his control of the art form and her newness side by side. One other thing I want to point out is there are thought bubbles in this comic. It feels like that is a tool that comics as a genre have moved away from. In this era of comics, thought bubbles are something that I thought the industry moved beyond. The thought bubbles serve a purpose and are used sparingly to illustrate the love of two characters but they did strike me as archaic.
The art by Alitha Martinez does that job. That is not a slight against her, but it seems to be the mandate on “The Black Panther” books to ape Stelfreeze’s style. That’s not a bad idea, but I don’t think it allows the artist to bring their own distinctive styles to the book and they are lesser for it. Martinez’s panel and tier construction of each page is dynamic. Her art does a great job of not coming across as static.
Buy it! In a post Chelsea Cain, gamergate-eque attack world, I will support as many comics created by women as I can! World of Wakanda is one of those comics. Diverse voices that have sold millions of books have a future in comics and need to have an opportunity to tell their stories at the big two. This book adds to the mythos of Black Panther in a big way while creating its own.