Writers: Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates / Artists: Alitha E. Martinez, Roberto Poggi, Rachelle Rosenberg / Marvel Comics
A lot happens between issues #3 and #4 — Queen Shuri mostly dies, the fight with the Black Order comes to an end, and the Dora Milaje patch things up with T’Challa. We don’t see any of that though. We open with Aneka and Ayo being sent off to assist Black Panther in setting up The Ultimates. While they are off fighting and such, their nemesis Folami gets herself shot up with nanites and decides to have a few choice words with the head of the Dora Milaje. Why this doesn’t get old girl sent home, I don’t know. Mistress Zola is way more forgiving that I’d be, I guess.
When our heroines get back from supporting the king, they are back on break-up street, as Aneka can’t deal with the guilt of having let Shuri die. she’s having some serious patriarchy problems as well. I hate it when the patriarchy gets in the way of love.
Enter actual conflict, which this comic has had surprisingly little of. The Dora Milaje are informed that a local chief is raping village women. Twist of all twists, this chief is also Folami’s dad. Aneka goes off to deal him some justice, which ends with her killing him. That’s not a spoiler — his murder is why Aneka is sitting in prison at the start of Black Panther #1. What is a spoiler is how anti-climactic the killing is. Folami doesn’t show to protect her pops, for no discernible reason. I mean, she’s all nanite powerful and is becoming rage and all that noise, so she could have. Instead, Aneka and the chief face off, with the fight going about has poorly as you’d expect between a trained Dora Milaje and a village chief. All sound. No fury.
That brings me to my critique of this issue — it is terribly talky. I’m not against this in principal, but there comes a point where action worthy of the character’s raison-d-etre should happen. That point is now. To date, all of the fights or physical conflicts of any caliber have happened off page, only referred to or implied. It makes for a flat reading experience in which I have yet to see the Dora Milaje be the fighting machines they are famed to be. The energy of the story is starting to drag. This is also the challenge of writing a story the ending of which I already know: you have to give me a reason to stay around for the telling. Up until now, that reason has been Aneka and Ayo’s relationship. Here’s hoping that the next issue brings either some action for the Dora Milaje or some forward progress for Aneka and Ayo. Both would be good. Can I have both?
Reading Black Panther: World of Wakanda? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.