Marvel’s Black Panther isn’t mentioned in the title of Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey’s World of Wakanda, and that’s on purpose. The new Black Panther spin-off comic, which comes out next Wednesday, November 9, is the first in Marvel’s long history to be written by a black women. Right now, all signs point to it receiving the same commercial and critical success Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther series is getting — and it might not even need King T’Challa to do so.
The spin-off comic follows King T’Challa’s former bodyguards, the Dora Milaje. Following some pertinent events in the Black Panther comic, the two women, Aneka and Ayo, give up on their job as protectors of the king and instead dedicate themselves to protecting their fellow Wakandan women from patriarchal violence. It will obviously be dope to see two queer women of color defending other women who don’t have the ability to defend themselves from the most deplorable part of our patriarchal society.
When asked whether she took into consideration readers who may not be familiar with Black Panther, Roxane Gay said that it was not her “first consideration” because, for the most part, World of Wakanda can stand on its own. Although the Dora Milaje are good standalone characters, the comic can’t necessarily stand on its own because of the current state of Wakanda in comics canon. Let’s explain.
Because of Black Panther’s status as the king of the society, it would be difficult to create a comic about Wakanda without including T’Challa. As the ruler, it is on him to govern and remove the same problems and social issues that the Dora Milaje are fighting against. Although a lot of the individual stories can be written without mentioning King T’Challa, the overall story is affected by the Black Panther’s stance on social issues as he is the representative of the government and the person who keeps certain political and social policies in place.
Roxane Gay did go on to say that she is forced to take into account continuity when thinking about the Marvel Universe. But, if the World of Wakanda is meant to tell the story of individual Wakandan citizens, then it can definitely exist as a standalone comic. Although it is isolated, Wakanda is still the richest country in the Marvel universe with enough individual citizens to tell a lifetime of stories. As the story progresses, the Dora Milaje can get farther away from the Black Panther. However, to proclaim that it can exist as a standalone comic at this time is a stretch and still remains to be seen.