Much Needed Backstory
Written by: Roxane Gay
Consultant: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art by: Alitha E. Martinez, Rachelle Rosenberg
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 9th, 2016
Review by: Christian Faulds
*NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM*
This story takes place before the first issue of the current Black Panther series. Maybe we’ll get some much needed answers from this issue. Apparently, this will be about the royal bodyguard of the Wakandian King, the Dora Milaje. We shall see what sort of story gets told.
The issue starts off several months ago at the Headquarters of the Dora Milaje. Here, we meet Mistress Zola and Captain Aneka who are welcoming some new recruits. Zola leaves the recruits in Aneka’s hands. Aneka address the recruits and shows them where they are to train and learn.
This is when one of the recruits, Ayo, expresses how prideful she is. She questions how the silly room could get them to learn anything. Aneka tries to assert herself as the leader and mentor, and mentally checks herself when commenting on Ayo’s beauty. Ayo can't help but notice that she was called beautiful. She is still dismissive and calls these exercises games, and Aneka suggests they play a game...a fist game. They brawl, and Ayo warns that she was trained to fight like her brothers but gets her ass handed to her.
After Ayo catches her beat down, Aneka addresses the other girls: “Now then, let the training begin.” Aneka mentally reassures herself that she handled Ayo correctly. A fellow trainee asks if Ayo learned anything from being humbled, and she retorts that she wasn’t humbled, she merely misjudged Aneka. Zola then talks to Aneka over for some tea. She questions Aneka about her handling of Ayo, and Aneka defends herself. Zola observes that Ayo is just like Aneka was when she was a recruit.
Skip forward several weeks later, and Aneka and Ayo are sparring again. Harsh words are exchanged between them. After some scrapping, Ayo believes she has gotten the better of Aneka, but Aneka then shows why she is the captain and quickly takes down Ayo. During this, Folami is asked to Zola’s office. Zola tells her that she is the least strong and the worst warrior. She tells Folami that she thinks Folami doesn’t have what it takes to be a part of the Dora Milaje. Folami says that while she has those detriments, she still has something to offer: she knows things.
Zola asks her what she knows, and Folami reveals the she knows almost every secret thing that has been happening. Zola tells her she might be of use after all and orders her to stop spying on people that have been trained to kill. While leaving, Folami surmises that while the others may be trained to kill, she will be trained to do much more.
Meanwhile, on the lower levels, Aneka and Ayo have another brief spat. This really turns Aneka on. They get real close, the sexual tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Then the other recruits walk by and Ayo leaves. Later that night, Ayo knocks on Aneka’s door. Aneka thinks to herself how amazing Ayo is while leaning on the door she has knocked on.
Months later, they are all in their war gear. This during the war between the Avengers and X-Men. The recruits have an Atlantean, and they try to interrogate him but he gives them nothing. They look to see how many men are out there. Once they find out, they move out and kill them all in a quick and uniform way. Then they relax a little and the Captain gets hit in the shoulder; Ayo supports her. Later, they all get initiated into the Dora Milaje. They separate the sisterhood they are apart of. This happens when Namor floods the city.
The backup is about Zenzi. It starts off with her remembering her parents while she is transported...transported to her death, except she has powers. She makes the soldiers shoot themselves instead of shooting her. Then she flashes back to when she was a child and her Wakandian friend was scolded because she played with Zenzi, a Nigandan. Her mother scolds and dismisses her when she asks why she can’t play in the Alkama fields. Zenzi goes to Wakanda while commenting on the state of her countrymen.
The Wakandian’s give her clothes, and she is accosted by some guys. Zenzi makes them kill themselves. She declares she will take her own path, then passes out. She wakes up to see Tetu sharpening a blade. He asks if she wants to be liberated, and she tells him she can take care of herself. Then he asks Zenzi if she wants to liberate herself, and she says not just herself but a nation.
Bits and Pieces:
This issue was really good. At least the beginning part, the backup was pretty lackluster. Which I see as proof that Coates shouldn’t be on Black Panther since he did write the backup. The art however could have been better. Zola looks like a dude sometimes and a ugly chick at others. It is really weird. Anyway, if you are reading normal Black Panther than I would suggest picking this up, otherwise the issue isn’t strong enough to warrant picking up on its own.