World of Wakanda, Marvel (2016)

Author: Roxane Gay, Yona Harvey

Illustrator: Afua Richardson

I picked up the World of Wakanda for a steal on my kindle. I’m not a big graphic novel reader and I never read comics as a kid, but you really can’t escape them now. I read Roxane Gay’s Hunger a few weeks ago so I was interested in how she’d tell this story. As a companion to Black Panther, World of Wakanda interested me because of it’s focus on the Dora Milaje, the all-female fighting force that serve as the royal personal guard for the royal family of Wakanda, a notoriously secretive resource rich African country.

Vibranium is the most valuable natural resource on earth and it can only be found in Wakanda.

I read through the collection over a few days, mostly in the corner of my daughter’s room while they fell asleep. The artwork was really beautiful and love stories featuring black queer women are really hard to find. As a romance, it works. There is that feeling of forbidden love, but it doesn’t feel like their love has to be hidden because of society, but more because of a sense of duty to their cause. I didn’t read Black Panther, and I’m not going to. I want to be surprised when the movie comes out, but there is a lot of allusion to the series and I did feel lost when their were deviations from the Dora Milaje main story. This series takes place before the events of the Black Panther series so I thought it would be fine, but they probably should be read close together.

If you aren’t used to the flow of comics then the dialogue may seem a bit stilted and I have had some introduction to the style so I’m not expecting a lot of nuance, but don’t be surprised if people use a lot of exposition. I will say I enjoyed reading it and I would definitely buy it as a gift and share it. You should too.

If you like this, then try:

If you’re new to graphic novels and comics then I’d suggest a classic, The Watchmen by Allen Moore. The story is really immersive and is set in a cynical US where Nixon never resigned and the cold war is still raging in the 1980’s. If you want something hopeful, then this isn’t the one for you, but it’s really good.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do the depictions of black queer women differ in the comics (artwork and narrative) than those you are used to seeing in general?
  2. What do you notice about how Mistress Zola is portrayed? Is it positive, negative?
  3. The origins of the Dora Milaje were as potential wives of the king. How does this disrupt the traditional Eurocentric depiction of princesses or ladies-in-waiting?
  4. Commitment to country and commitment to those you love are themes that run throughout the series. How do these come in to conflict?

Soundtrack: 

If you’re wanting to get into that pan-African feeling. You must listen to the king.

Comments are closed.