14 Sep 2020
#ComicBytes: The origins of Dora Milaje, explained
Written byRashi BhattacharyyaEntertainment
The stereotypical portrayal of the black community in pop culture is not uncommon.
While many tried to break this pattern, the 2018 blockbuster Black Panther shattered these barriers beautifully. Apart from showcasing the rich African culture on-screen, the movie introduced a badass group of black warrior women, the Dora Milaje.
An inspiration for colored women around the world, this group has an interesting history.
Dora Milaje: An ancient tradition of Wakanda
An ancient tribal tradition, Dora Milaje were assembled as potential queens for an unmarried king. These women were also trained warriors.
This was done for maintaining the peace in Wakanda by ensuring that every tribe has the opportunity to put forward one of their daughters for the crown.
The practice of employing Dora Milaje was discontinued until T'Challa revived it.
Their comic book debut appearance was similar to supermodels
The Dora Milaje made their debut in Christopher Priest's Black Panther Volume 3 #1 (1998).
Known as the "adored ones," this group illustrated by artist Mark Teixeira, initially looked nothing like what we saw in the film.
Dora Milaje here, were more feminine, with long, straight hair, red miniskirts, and high stiletto heels. This look was actually based on Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks.
T'Challa's Dora Milaje: Introducing Okoye and Nakia
The Dora Milaje tradition was dormant until T'Challa reinstated it with Nakia and Okoye becoming the first members of the elite group.
These trained women became an important part of the king's entourage.
Fierce & queer
Ushering into the new era: The fierce warriors of Wakanda
In 2016, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and artist Brian Stelfreeze started a new fierce era of these female warriors of Wakanda.
Apart from being bodyguards and potential brides to T'Challa, they were given their own stories within the Wakandan landscape.
The most popular story from this era was the queer romance between Aneka and Ayo, who were also known as the Midnight Angels.