Image: Marvel Comics

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther run has been getting a lot of attention over the last year, but that book’s spin-off, World Of Wakanda, has proven to be an even more dynamic, compelling read that not enough people are talking about. Written by best-selling author Roxane Gay (with consulting from Coates) and illustrated by penciler Alitha E. Martinez, inker Roberto Poggi, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, this series focuses on two major female figures in the main Black Panther series: Ayo and Aneka, the Dora Milaje that fall in love and rebel against the leader to whom they pledged their service.

Coates’ run has tackled some interesting themes about the nature of power and loyalty to one’s country, but it’s also suffered from languid pacing that keeps it from being more exciting. World Of Wakanda moves much quicker as it recounts major moments leading up to the start of Black Panther, and Gay’s strong handle on Ayo and Aneka’s romance provides a strong emotional foundation that makes it easy to engage with the narrative and connect to the characters’ struggles. One of the most fascinating things about World Of Wakanda is the inspiration the creative team pulls from classic romance comics, and while there’s still plenty of focus on the political aspect of the story, elements like thought balloons and the clean, expressive artwork evoke the look and feel of Marvel’s old romance series.

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These preview pages of next week’s World Of Wakanda #4 highlight that balance of politics and romance, as the Dora Milaje mourn the death of Queen Shuri in the wake of Thanos’ attack on Wakanda in the Infinity miniseries. Ayo and Aneka’s courtship has been rocky throughout the series, and after major forward movement last issue, Aneka once again doubts their pairing because of her guilt over not saving Shuri. Martinez’s art has gotten sharper with each issue, and the addition of inker Roberto Poggi has significantly elevated the visuals on this series. The main strength of the art is the clarity of the emotions, which amplifies the growing tension among the Dora Milaje. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors visually connect this book to Black Panther with delicate rendering very much in the vein of Laura Martin’s work, and having a veteran colorist like Rosenberg has helped make World Of Wakanda an even more compelling read.

Image: Marvel Comics; cover by Afua Richardson
Image: Marvel Comics

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Image: Marvel Comics
Image: Marvel Comics
Image: Marvel Comics

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Image: Marvel Comics
Image: Marvel Comics