Nnedi Okorafor Makes Dora Milaje History
Breaking down this week's thrilling Avengers: Wakanda Forever #1 with the series writer!
A battle of epic proportions is about to go down tomorrow, August 22, in the third and final installment of the WAKANDA FOREVER series! Former member of the Dora Milaje, Nakia—now known as the Super Villain Malice—is on a rampage. And in response, Okoye, Ayo, and Aneka will have to dig deep into the ancient secrets of the Dora to try to stop her...
So is the Marvel Universe ready for what's about to be uncovered about Wakanda, the Black Panther, and the Dora Milaje? We caught up with Okorafor to get the details behind this breathtaking finale.
Marvel.com: Is there anything from the first two installments of the series that we should know going into AVENGERS: WAKANDA FOREVER #1?
Nnedi Okorafor: Oh, sure! All three installments are one continuous story; each builds on what came before so they’re best read in order. What does one need to know up to this point? Well, the Dora Milaje have come to Brooklyn in pursuit of Nakia (AKA Malice) who has stolen a very powerful Wakandan weapon that is also a deep Dora Milaje secret.
Because we’re in New York, several Super Heroes show up to help (including Storm, T’Challa, Rogue, and Nightcrawler), but only the Dora Milaje truly understand what’s going on—but now the Wakandan weapon that Nakia stole, called a Mimic-27, has gotten free of even Nakia’s control.
Marvel.com: How would you describe the Nakia and Dora Milaje to new readers?
Nnedi Okorafor: In the comics, the Dora Milaje are no longer Wakanda’s special forces. They have their own lands now and are thus independent, though they remain tenuously loyal to the realm.
Nakia was recruited very young and trained early to be a Dora Milaje. Things were stressful, and then things went wrong with and for her after several incidents (refer to the past comics for details—it’s a lot). So she’s somewhat, umm...off.
Marvel.com: The enigmatic Dora Milaje are favorites of Marvel fans, and they’re front and center in this series (and in our hearts)! Any hints about what we can expect from them in the upcoming book?
Nnedi Okorafor: What I wanted to explore in this series was the Dora Milaje having secrets and struggles beyond just being amazing warriors, and making and righting mistakes. I wanted to look at who they were and who they have gradually become. A lot of these things are subtle in the plot but if you are willing to look at nuanced moments, you can expect to catch glimpses of the human beings these women are.
Marvel.com: T'Challa, Okoye, Ayo, and Aneka need to delve into the history of the Dora Milaje to take down Nakia... Can you tease any secrets we might learn about the Dora Milaje? (Note: You can totally be cryptic and mysterious!)
Nnedi Okorafor: I can say that, like in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, it all comes down to what was in that cave.
Marvel.com: It must be a strange experience for the Dora Milaje to find themselves in such unfamiliar territory. How did you find the experience of writing the Dora Milaje out of their usual element, and how do the characters handle the experience?
Nnedi Okorafor: I think the Dora Milaje are ready for any part of the world! They can deal with any culture, adjust to any environment, all while maintaining who they are. They’re that hardcore. They are more than warriors, so writing them having an adventure outside Wakanda wasn’t hard for me.
Marvel.com: You’ve done such an amazing job getting the individual voices down for a hugely diverse cast of characters, from the Wakandan team to the X-Men crew and everyone inbetween! What was it like tackling such a big Marvel ensemble?
Nnedi Okorafor: Thank you! I think this was one of the most challenging and delightful parts of writing this series—juggling all the characters while keeping the Dora Milaje in front. Several times, the Dora Milaje who stepped in the forefront was Nakia (yeah, despite all that happened in the past, I do still see her as a Dora Milaje) and I was fine with that. Okoye, Anika, and Ayo have strong presences, too.
Really, it was about letting the story naturally move where it wanted while remaining what it was. I also was surprised about how much I enjoyed writing the other Super Heroes, especially Spider-Man and Nightcrawler.
Oh, and writing Storm was the joy I knew it would be.
Marvel.com: How have your past projects in African-influenced sci-fi and fantasy informed your take on WAKANDA FOREVER?
Nnedi Okorafor: Seeing, knowing, and understanding Wakanda has been easy for me because I’ve been writing African futuristic environments for over a decade. I bring that familiarity to Wakanda. Strongly so.
When I wrote the first issue of LONG LIVE THE KING, I was in Arusha, Tanzania. I remember imagining that I was literally quite close to Wakanda (in my mind, Wakanda is located near Turkana, Kenya, which isn’t all that far from Arusha). I can hear the accents as I’m writing (for me, Wakandan accents sound like a blend of South African and East African accents).
Marvel.com: Are there any thematic threads you’re exploring in this series that you've also looked at in your past works?
Nnedi Okorafor: I was quietly exploring the themes of cultural secrecy and what happens when those secrets are exposed to the West, the theme of forgiveness, and the evolution of culture.
Marvel.com: One last thing: we are completely hyped for your upcoming SHURI standalone series. Can you give us any hints for what we can expect in that one while we hyperventilate until it drops in October?
Nnedi Okorafor: I think it best to go into SHURI without expectations. Whatever you get is going to be awesome, so just let it happen and enjoy the ride! That’s what Shuri would say, anyway.
Learn the secrets of the Dora Milaje in Nnedi Okorafor and Oleg Okunev’s epic AVENGERS: WAKANDA FOREVER #1—on shelves tomorrow, August 22!
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