This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on November 9, 2016.
Black Panther: World of Wakanda debuts today. It is an exciting launch for a number of reasons. First, it shows that Black Panther is not only a great individual character for the publisher, but that his lore is ripe for expansion. In addition to the upcoming Black Panther film, there is room for a variety of Wakandan comics. On top of that, it points out that the energy surrounding Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s new series was not a flash in the pan. Readers are genuinely excited about the King of Wakanda and those surrounding him.
The biggest reason for excitement are the characters that World of Wakanda will focus on. Ayo and Aneka, the Midnight Angels, were the clear standout characters from the very first issue of the newest volume of Black Panther. Getting to witness their stories as penned by feminist writer Roxane Gay is very exciting. In addition to that, the villain of the current volume Zenzi will see her story told by poet Yona Harvey.
Knowing this set of characters will be seeing their own stories told got us thinking about what other Wakandan characters need to see their stories told. Whether they would be better suited for ongoing series or backup stories, like Zenzi’s, these are five characters who could absolutely hold down their own comics. If World of Wakanda is half as successful as Black Panther, then we hope to see very, very soon.
The current run of Black Panther has focused a great deal on Prince T’Challa’s sister Shuri. In the past Shuri has been both the Queen of Wakanda and the Black Panther, before she was grievously wounded. While she’s not out of the woods yet, it appears that she may return soon. Even if that’s not the case, Shuri is a character with a rich history worth exploring. She is every bit her brother’s peer and a powerful heroine whose stories deserve their own comic.
While some of these characters may just require a backup story or mini-series, Shuri could absolutely carry her own ongoing series at Marvel Comics. Whether she takes on the mantle of Queen or Black Panther again, Shuri is the sort of hero who can stand on her own feet and define herself outside of her brother’s shadow. Inside or outside of Wakanda, we would love to see her make an impact on the world of Marvel.
White Wolf, also known as Hunter, is the leader of the Hatut Zeraze, the secret police of Wakanda. He has been both an enemy and ally to Black Panther throughout his time serving the country, but has always been loyal to the country and (what he sees as) its best interests. That sort of conflicted anti-hero would make for a very intriguing protagonist.
While T’Challa plays the role of King and attempts to do the best possible thing, it is White Wolf who operates somewhat independently and is willing to take a middle ground. You could compare their relationship to that of the X-Men and X-Force, where one will take actions the other could not consider. White Wolf is a skilled hunter, killer, and leader, as well. He would an exciting lead both in moments of action and in the politics of Wakanda. As complex as Black Panther’s position may be, the CIA-like role filled by White Wolf is every bit as engaging. His story is certainly one that could carry its own series.
We love to hear the stories of great villains. Doctor Doom, Namor, and others have all held their own series at various points in the history of Marvel Comics, and there’s no reason Erik Killmonger could not join their ranks. Unlike Klaw, Killmonger is not a clear cut villain. Instead, he is a disenfranchised Wakandan, abused by both colonial infiltrators and misjudged by his own people. When he returned to his home country, it was with a justifiable rage.
It is that rage that makes him a great counterpoint to Black Panther and the potential protagonist of his own series. He doesn’t have to win at the end of the day, but exploring his motives and struggles is the stuff of great comic books. It is even possible to see Killmonger becoming a reluctant ally to Black Panther and a hero in his own right. Combine that potential with Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming portrayal of Killmonger in the Black Panther film, and you have a recipe for another successful new series based out of Wakanda.
The truth is that Everett Ross is a bit of a putz. He is by no means brave or bold. That doesn’t mean he’s a poor character though. Created by Christopher Priest and Kenny Martinez for their much beloved run on Black Panther, he was a point of view character for suburban Americans. A government man tasked with keeping tabs on Black Panther, Ross was essentially good willed, but ineffective.
What makes him a fascinating character though is that unique perspective. He is an everyman, someone much more likely to respond to a crisis like an everyday reader than a superhero. Yet he also possesses a noble heart. His connection not only to Black Panther and Wakanda, but to the rest of the Marvel Universe allows him to provide lots of insight into the Marvel Universe. In some ways he is like the photographer in Marvels, offering perspective to those of us who wonder what it would be like to live in a world with the Avengers. That offers great potential for a comics series of its own.
This is the character that most people are least likely to recognize. W’Kabi was T’Challa’s second-in-command and chief of security. He was an inventor, leader, and bodyguard, which is what makes him such a great potential hero. He can be seen as an excellent supporting character, but there is nothing that prevents him from leading the battle both physically and narratively.
While W’Kabi may be dead for now, Shuri and Killmonger demonstrate that death is far from permanent. Whether you were to bring him back or look back at his past deeds, W’Kabi is a character who begs to have his own stories told. He’s the sort of supporting person who clearly has a long career of his own filled with adventures and great deeds. In the past or future, those are stories we would love to read.