The Dora Milaje are the daughters of the eighteen tribes of Wakanda. They are the teeth of the Panther God–a force of fierce women that protect their monarch, the Black Panther.
When tribal war breaks out in Wakanda, King T’Challa, AKA Black Panther, restores peace by oppressing the rogue Jabari tribe, and by picking Dora Milaje (pronounced “DOR-ah muh-LAH-jay,” which means “Adored Ones”) from rival tribes to serve as his guard and “wives-in-training”. The latter function is purely ceremonial, as T’Challa neither seeks nor forms romantic attachments with his Dora Milaje, seeing them more as daughters versus wives. Their presence maintains a balance of power preventing Wakandan civil war. Each member of the Dora Milaje can spend years in training before being presented to the king.
From Wives to Warrior Bodyguards
Historically, the Dora Milaje offers the tribes of Wakanda an opportunity to have their daughters presented as potential wives and trained as warriors to serve the king, the Black Panther, and thus the Panther God, which helps keep the peace across the nation. The Dora Milaje follow their King T’Challa, and formerly T’Chaka, AKA Black Panther, S’Yan, and Shuri.
When T’Challa brings the Dora Milaje into modern times, he adds warrior maidens Okoye and Nakia, AKA Malice, to his ranks. T’Challa and specialist instructors in martial skills, science, and technology tutor both Dora Milaje. At age 17, they become T’Challa’s bodyguards; Okoye acts as his chauffeur and Nakia, his aide. Both Okoye and Nakia are highly skilled at protecting their king and killing in defense of him when necessary.
The Dora speak only Hausa, and only to their king. They typically carry traditional Vibranium spears and weapons and occasionally wear Vibranium armor and Kimoyo Beads–advanced communication technology. The Dora Milaje also use jet-packs and can fly Quinjets. While on assignments outside of Wakanda, they use high-tech alternatives to their more lethal weapons.
When Nakia grows jealous of the king’s love interest, Monica Lynne, she attempts to kill her, and after T’Challa finds out, he informs her she would return to her tribe in disgrace.
The Dora Milaje expands its ranks over the years and continues after T’Challa marries the X-Man Ororo Munroe, AKA Storm. Though when the king loses himself, the Dora break their spears symbolically and follow T’Challa’s sister, Queen Shuri, but upon her recommendation, they return to serving him.
There exists a special team of Dora Milaje elite, dubbed the Midnight Angels, who take on more serious threats to protect Wakanda. The warrior Aneka leads the group and forms a romantic relationship with fellow warrior Ayo. They leave the Dora forming a new faction of warriors and eventually call themselves the Dora Milaje once again. They ultimately return to serve their monarchs when civil war threatens Wakanda.
Bones to Build Tombs
The Dora Milaje go up against any group or enemy that opposes their king, and that includes the demonic Mephisto, Achebe, Erik Killmonger, AKA Killmonger, Victor von Doom, AKA Doctor Doom, and Namor McKenzie, AKA Namor the Sub-Mariner. They also face heroes Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, and James Rhodes, AKA War Machine, after the Superhuman Registration Act passes demanding by law that all powered people register themselves and their abilities.
When T’Challa proves to be an unworthy ruler, the Dora Milaje refuses to follow him, thus supporting his sister, Queen Shuri, instead.
Monarch and Mutant Allies
For most of the Dora Milaje’s existence, they serve the King of Wakanda and ally with his allies. When the king marries Storm, they are thus allied with her and her fellow X-Men, including Logan/James Howlett, AKA Wolverine, Kurt Wagner, AKA Nightcrawler, and Peter Rasputin, AKA Colossus. They also serve his sister, Queen Shuri, when she becomes the reigning monarch.
Sweat, Bloodshed, and Battle
Shortly after assisting their king in subduing violent civil unrest, caused by T’Challa’s decision to admit refugees from Wakanda’s war-torn neighbors, the Dora Milaje accompanied T’Challa to the United States. There, they investigated corruption in the Wakandan-backed Tomorrow Fund, which led to the death of a young child, a scandal engineered to lure T’Challa out of his country at a critical juncture. While in the States, Nakia and Okoye helped T’Challa shakedown Dzhokar Gapon of the Russian mafia and Jack Taylor of Spectrum Dynamics (a U.S. intelligence agency front), both part of the anti-Wakandan conspiracy. During this time, T’Challa’s demonic foe Mephisto mystically tricked him into kissing Nakia while believing she was Monica Lynne, the king’s love interest. Though T’Challa explained what had happened, and Okoye tried to make her friend see sense, Nakia felt her desires were reciprocated. When the group returned to Wakanda, events conspired to place Nakia and Monica alone together in an aircraft during a battle, and Nakia ejected Monica in mid-air. Nakia claimed their enemy killed her, but realizing Nakia had lied, T’Challa threatened to return her to her tribe in disgrace. Nakia fled straight into the arms of T’Challa’s enemy Achebe, who tortured her and left her to die, though Killmonger saved her. He shaped Nakia into Malice, a weapon to use against the king. Ce’athauna Asira Davin, AKA Queen Divine Justice, an American-raised Jabari, replaced Nakia in the Dora Milaje. She would come to find out from T’Challa that she was a Princess from the Jabari Tribe, and that her parents died in tribal warfare and the reason for her exile to America.
After T’Challa married X-Man Storm, the Dora Milaje remained his bodyguards and assisted him during the Civil War when heroes divided on the registry of super-powered people. During a visit to the White House, the Dora Milaje battled War Machine and his Sentinels. The Dora Milaje next went up against Black Widow when T’Challa opposed the Superhuman Registration Act. When Iron Man and the Cape-Killers tried to arrest the Dora Milaje, Storm stopped them.
T’Challa began training the Dora Milaje to go up against robots and magic after losing some of his ranks and suffering injuries after a battle with Doctor Doom. These tests resulted in more deaths, however.
When Doom attempted to take over Wakanda, just before the coup, T’Challa took his 500-strong Dora Milaje bodyguards out of the nation. They enlisted the aid of Storm’s fellow X-Men Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus, to free Storm and retook Wakanda. Intending to kill Doom, T’Challa sent the Midnight Angels, a strike force within the Dora Milaje, and Wade Wilson, AKA Deadpool, who launch an attack inside Castle Doom, Doom’s headquarters. This action leads to T’Challa defeating Doom by making their valuable Vibranium inert.
The Dora Milaje discovered T’Challa conspiring with Namor the Sub-Mariner, since he had previously attacked Wakanda, and they declared him a liar. When Dora Milaje members Ayo and Aneka defected taking Midnight Angel armor with them, they began liberating oppressed Wakandans. They eventually declared themselves Dora Milaje after fighting off the Jabari’s White Gorilla Army forces. After they killed Mandla, AKA White Gorilla, now Man-Ape, and conquered the Jabari-Lands, they created a new government and gained support from Jabari tribesmen. For a time, this new Dora Milaje fought against the crown until Queen Shuri confronted Aneka and Ayo. Shuri asked them to defend their city from the leader of the People who would likely turn on them anyway. After the People were defeated, T’Challa held hearings for the Dora Milaje. The Midnight Angels demanded land and to be independent of the crown, though an elder convinced Aneka otherwise. These events led T’Challa to form a democratic government, one where he could remain king in name but more of a figurehead representing Wakanda versus ruling them.