Meet Aneka, a Dora Milaje Captain Turned Wakandan Revolutionary
Who is Aneka? Once one of Black Panther's greatest defenders, this Wakandan warrior went from Dora Milaje captain to unlikely political revolutionary.
While Black Panther has been off saving the universe with the Avengers, Wakanda has changed. As the nation of Wakanda evolves, the warriors of the Dora Milaje – one of the fiercest fighting forces in the Marvel Universe – have changed too. One Dora Milaje leader, Aneka, has changed more than most, evolving from a deeply devoted soldier into an unlikely political revolutionary and one-half of an iconic power couple.
Now, we’re taking a closer look at Aneka and how the Dora Milaje captain became a transformational figure who changed Wakanda forever.
ANEKA AND THE DORA MILAJE
Aneka debuted as a captain of the Dora Milaje in BLACK PANTHER (2009) #8 by Jonathan Maberry and Will Conrad. To prepare for an impending war with Doctor Doom, T’Challa tasked Aneka with developing a new fighting style for the Dora Milaje that would be particularly effective against Doombots. During the ensuing DOOMWAR (2010), Aneka led the Dora Milaje into battle when Doctor Doom and his allies attacked Wakanda, utilizing a fighting style that combined martial arts and sorcery with hi-tech Wakandan weaponry.
In the years that followed, Aneka continued to serve T’Challa in the Dora Milaje – at least until BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA (2016) by Roxane Gay and Alitha E. Martinez. While teaching a new group of Dora Milaje initiates, Aneka met Ayo, and the two women developed a quick attraction toward one another. Due to her loyalty to T’Challa and an antiquated, unenforced Dora Milaje rule that made her his potential bride, Aneka was initially reluctant to embrace her feelings towards Ayo. Nevertheless, Dora Milaje leader Mistress Zola noted their attraction and often paired them together.
After Namor flooded Wakanda while under the influence of the Phoenix Force during AVENGERS VS. X-MEN (2012), Aneka and Ayo helped clean up the aftermath of the attack, which had a profound effect on them both. A tense encounter with a mourning citizen inspired the pair to confess their feelings for one another. However, they quickly found themselves in a disagreement: Ayo blamed T’Challa’s preoccupation with the Avengers for Namor’s attack, but Aneka still felt torn by her duty to Wakanda and T’Challa.
That changed when Aneka and Ayo witnessed their king take a meeting with Namor in the wake of his attack. Then, after Thanos attacked a vulnerable Wakanda during INFINITY (2013), Aneka, Ayo, and several other Dora Milaje severed ties with T’Challa and shattered their spears to show their dissatisfaction with their king, reaffirming their loyalty to Wakanda as a nation, not any one individual. Following this, Aneka and Ayo took a vacation in New York, where they worked through Aneka’s lingering doubts about their relationship. However, Aneka and Ayo were away when Thanos and the Black Order attacked Wakanda again and seemingly killed Shuri, which left both Dora Milaje members wracked with guilt.
After a desperate woman came to the Dora Milaje and asked for help against the Kagara village’s abusive Chieftain Diya, Aneka traveled to the town, where she freed its imprisoned women and killed Diya. Despite her good intentions, Aneka was arrested for killing a chieftain and sentenced to death by Queen Ramonda for the assassination.
THE MIDNIGHT ANGELS REVOLUTION
While Wakanda struggled with multiple internal crises, Ayo broke Aneka out of prison with an experimental Midnight Angel armor prototype in BLACK PANTHER (2016) #1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze. Once a secret team of elite Dora Milaje warriors, the Midnight Angels became a vigilante tour de force under Aneka and Ayo while they operated in northern Wakanda, where they vowed to protect the people that T’Challa had overlooked.
After the Midnight Angels began settling a compound in the Jabari-Lands, Mandla – the brother of M’Baku – and the White Gorilla Army attacked. However, Aneka, Ayo, and a growing number of other Dora Milaje and like-minded Jabari tribesmen defeated them, and the Midnight Angels killed Mandla. As the Midnight Angels laid claim to the mountainous Jabari-Lands in the name of the Dora Milaje, a democratic political revolution began taking shape, with tribunals for those who abused their power, calls for elections, and the creation of new local laws.
At the same time as the Dora Milaje’s revolution, a mystic named Tetu, a mind-controller named Zenzi, and their rebel coalition, the People, tried to overthrow King T’Challa. When the Black Panther ordered the Hatut Zeraze strike force to attack Aneka and Ayo’s land, the Midnight Angels briefly teamed up with the People to fend them off. In BLACK PANTHER (2016) #9 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chris Sprouse, and Karl Story, Aneka sent the captive Hatut Zeraze soldiers back to Birnin Zana, Wakanda’s capital, as an act of mercy and made a nationwide speech rejecting T’Challa and stating her belief in a Wakanda governed by its people.
Immediately after this, Aneka encountered a revived Shuri, who encouraged the Midnight Angels to break ties with the People and come to terms with T’Challa. After some discussion, Aneka ended the Midnight Angels’ alliance with the People, who had already started abusing their power.
After Black Panther and his forces stopped the People’s rebellion, T’Challa, Shuri, Aneka, Ayo, and other Wakandan leaders met in BLACK PANTHER (2016) #12 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, and Chris Sprouse. With T’Challa also feeling uneasy about his role in ruling Wakanda, this group called for the formation of a council that would create a new constitution and representative government. While T’Challa would maintain his title as king, this new arrangement made the Wakandan monarch a representative of its people rather than their ruler.
ANEKA IN THE NEW WAKANDA
With the Midnight Angels’ revolution effectively successful, Aneka returned with Ayo to the J’Bari-Lands, which they continued to protect with Midnight Angels armor upgraded by T’Challa. When Wakanda’s ancestral gods, the Orisha, disappeared, the Midnight Angels and Dora Milaje took them down with help from T’Challa and Shuri in BLACK PANTHER (2016) #15 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Wilfredo Torres, and Adam Gorham.
Although they initially felt uneasy about taking orders from T’Challa again, Aneka and Ayo quickly reestablished a working relationship with T’Challa, who felt similarly unsure about commanding them on the battlefield. But while operating undercover, Aneka and Ayo fell into a trap set by the villain Klaw as part of a larger plot and were taken captive. However, Aneka soon freed herself and took out many of Klaw’s forces single-handedly in BLACK PANTHER (2016) #169 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leonard Kirk. As Aneka rescued Ayo, the other Midnight Angels attacked Klaw’s compound and joined T’Challa in the final fight against Klaw.
When her former ally Nakia unleashed the Dora Milaje’s secret Mimic-27 weapon in New York, Aneka traveled to America and teamed up with Ayo and Okoye to stop her in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: WAKANDA FOREVER (2018) #1 by Nnedi Okorafor and Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque. As the Dora Milaje worked with Spider-Man, the X-Men, and several Avengers, T’Challa himself ultimately convinced Nakia to help them stop the weapon as it mimicked various heroes. Ultimately, Nakia perished in her successful effort to contain the weapon, but she regained Aneka’s respect and was buried as a Dora Milaje in Wakanda.
ANEKA AND WAKANDA’S WARS
Aneka, her beloved Ayo, and the Dora Milaje have regularly defended Wakanda from internal and external threats, while acting as hesitant allies to T'Challa on occasion. When Black Panther and Earth’s Wakanda took on the corrupted Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, Aneka and the Midnight Angels were among the many heroes who helped fight back against the cosmic threat.
After the Hatut Zeraze leader Akili framed T’Challa as part of an attempted coup, the disgraced Black Panther turned to Aneka and the Midnight Angels again in BLACK PANTHER (2021) #7 by John Ridley and Stefano Landini. To help her fugitive brother, Shuri called on the Dora Milaje, who felt apprehensive about cleaning up what they saw as another one of T’Challa’s messes. When T’Challa vowed to never take the Wakandan throne again, Aneka and her forces agreed to help, and they assisted the Black Panther in defeating Akili and his Hatut Zeraze forces.
Although Aneka was once T’Challa’s loyal soldier and defender, the warrior has forged a distinct path of her own accord. Alongside her beloved Ayo, Aneka has profoundly changed the Dora Milaje and inspired a revolution that put Wakanda’s future in the hands of its people.
For more Wakandan adventures, don't miss BLACK PANTHER (2021) #12, on sale December 14!
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