Marvel have just announced a new series spinning out of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s Black Panther run. If you’ve been reading the series, you’ll have noticed how the creative team have been putting a lot of attention on the Dora Milaje, nominally the bodyguards for T’Challa himself. It’s almost as though a glowing sign is sat over their heads, pointing downwards, flashing “these folks would be great in a spin-off”.
Well now they’ve got the chance. World of Wakanda will feature rotating writers and artists for each arc, with a different lead character focused each time round. It’s a series which’ll likely be getting to flesh out the more contemporary and realised version of Wakanda we’re currently seeing in the central Black Panther series. The leads will be Ayo and Aneka, who started out as Dora Milaje but will, as this first arc begins, head off on the run, billing themselves “The Midnight Angels” as they rebel against the perceived injustices of the Wakandan series. Along the way, they’ll also start to realise their feelings for each other.
But story aside, the biggest aspect of this news is that Roxane Gay will be co-writing the first arc with poet Yona Harvey – making them, we believe, the first African-American women to ever get a writing gig at Marvel.
Good, but also y’know, about ruddy time.
Gay is best known as an essayist and novelist, having written for The New York Times and published several fiction and non-fiction novels including Ayiti and An Untamed State. Her arrival is a welcome one, although also a curious one. Like Coates, she’s not got any comics writing in her background before this gig, so we’ll have to see how she finds the medium – it’s fantastic having people move into comics and give it a go, but I hope this becomes a gig where she is allowed to find and develop her own voice. Gay is also a rather fantastic writer on LGBT issues, which makes me even more keen to see her writing this particular story. Alitha Martinez, who has been working for almost two decades in comics has been named as artist for the first arc, whilst the brilliant Afua Richardson will be providing covers for the series.
That makes this an all African-American line-up on writing and pencilling duties for this one.
It’s promising, but this is just a first step in providing a real range of experience and voice to Marvel comics. Hopefully we’ll see this expand further, and Marvel will prove their commitment to diversity is real and important to them, and not reliant on tokenism.
World of Wakanda #1 does not yet have a release date announced at the time of writing