Exploring Wakanda

Jessica Staff Image

Captain American: Civil War was my formal introduction to T’Challa and his role as king of the African nation Wakanda, along with his responsibilities as the Black Panther. I certainly knew of the character but my knowledge of his backstory was slim. Chadwick Boseman‘s portrayal was intriguing (as were the awesome ladies serving as his guards) and I wanted to know more.

Luckily, Marvel was smart enough to figure that there would be plenty of curious readers like me. They were also smart enough to hire some amazing writers for a new run in the series. Ta-Nehisi Coates, winner of 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction for Between the World and Me, is behind the current A Nation Under Our Feet story line — and it’s pretty great.

Volume One opens with T’Challa returning to the throne after recovering from a major run-in with Doctor Doom. His half-sister Shuri has been ruling in his place, but she was killed during an encounter with Thanos. This instability has allowed a group of insurgents called The People, led by revolutionaries named Tetu and Zenzi, to stir up the citizens of Wakanda. Additionally, Ayo and Aneka have gone rogue from the Dora Milaje, the all-female royal guard.

book cover for Black Panther 1

I just started to read Volume Two (it was released at the beginning of the month), but it continues with Black Panther securing a few allies: Manifold, Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Storm all lend a hand. He is also fighting to save his sister from the spirit world, Djalia.

Like with any new-to-you characters, especially in comics, I’ve found that there is going to be a learning curve. While Coates gives some direction and background for the newbies, he expects us to go do our homework, too. I’ve enjoyed learning more about Black Panther, Wakanda, and how both fit into the larger Marvel universe.

Coates is also collaborating on World of Wakanda with Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey (a poet and an assistant professor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh!). He recommended both writers for the books, making Gay and Harvey the first black women to write a series for Marvel. This prequel story will dive deeper into Ayo, Aneka and Zenzi’s backgrounds — placing important focus on some of the fierce women who populate Wakanda. Gay is writing about Ayo and Aneka, telling their love story and why they left the Dora Milaje. Harvey is creating Zenzi’s story and is drawing inspiration from the life of Winnie Mandela. The first collected volume will be available at the end of June and I can’t wait to read it!

Journey to the Kingdom of Wakanda

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Jess is the Clerical Specialist at the Woods Run branch on the North Side. She’s your girl for YA lit, romance novels and knitting.