Marvel’s Protectors of Wakanda Reveals the Origins of the Dora Milaje

In the Marvel comics and movies, the Dora Milaje – an elite team of highly trained female warriors – are much more than Black Panther’s bodyguards. These are Wakanda’s spies, diplomats, and a testament to the secret country’s belief in lore – lore that Marvel adds a new dimension to with Protectors of Wakanda: History and Training Manual for the Dora Milajea new book by writer Karama Horne.

As its title suggests, Wakanda Protectors delves into important elements of the country’s past in order to make young Dora Milaje-in-training understand what their organization has meant to the nation throughout its history. In addition to refreshments on existing Wakanda lore, which largely focused on the lives of the various men who have held the role of Black Panther, Wakanda Protectors explores the connection between the Dora Milaje and Queen Nehanda, one of the first women to bear the title.

When we recently spoke with Horne about Wakanda Protectorsshe explained how her own curiosity about the legacy of previous Panthers — Nehanda’s in particular — led her to want to explore the Black Panther’s role in founding the Dora Milaje.

“I’m fascinated that in the comics there are 16 Black Panthers, including T’Challa,” Horne said. “Two of them were female, Queen Turkana and Queen Nehanda, and I loved how Ta-Nehisi Coates expanded on the Nehanda mythos during his Black Panther run. So I knew that in m engaging, I was going to make Nehanda the founder of Dora.

Queen Nehanda flanked by two early Dora Milaje.
Image: Alitha Martinez/Marvel

In addition to establishing how Nehanda created the Dora Milaje, Wakanda Protectors details how other elements of his life, such as being one of Wakanda’s first leaders to venture outside the country, made Nehanda a legend in his time, just as T’Challa was in the his. In order to understand what all Black Panther embody as a protector of Wakanda, Horne said, one must have a deep understanding of the Dora Milaje, because the two couldn’t be more powerfully connected.

“If Dora Milaje’s primary purpose is to protect Wakanda and its leader, then Dora’s origin story is inexorably tied to the Black Panther story,” Horne said. “Going in and out of the Marvel Comics canon, I got to expand on existing stories through the eyes of Dora Milaje. It was so much fun!”

Protectors of Wakanda: History and Training Manual for the Dora Milaje hits stores September 13.

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