The future is a Wakandan Woman

After reading Shuri, issue 1, I couldn’t quite find all of my bearings. I had made it through all roughly 23 pages, but there was so much, still is, to process.

Part of what is so profoundly important in having the World of Wakanda and a hero like the Black Panther, is our ability to see a small piece of Afrofuturism, and elements of Black Quantum futurism, played out on this grand comic stage. Part of the world’s critical importance is the opportunity each tale and character allows for explorations of self-actualization, and a fully realized set of Black stories in shared spaces.

Shuri picks up on this, runs with it, soars with it, and ultimately appears to be prepared to go nuclear. I set it down, and immediately after, let my thoughts and feelings about this first issue run away. They haven’t come back to me. Not quite yet.

T’Challa is away again. Wakanda, like so much of our continental and diasporic family, is in yet another space of flux and transition. Things feel unsettled.

Always vigilant, mercurial and brilliant is Shuri. Not only is she the main character, naturally, she remains the emotional anchor for this entire world. To my eye, she feels very much like the hopefulness, and small aches of pessimism, and forward march, being worn by our community as a whole. She is this broad, shining canvas, and a perfect starting point for a comic birthed into today’s emotional context.

She is remarkably brave, exceptionally humble, gifted, passionate, curious, impatient, ambitious and loyal. In her pages, written by Nnedi Okorafor, there is a balanced, fully realized being, growing, and struggling and crafting a world that is not yet ready for her, her ideas or her personhood. Not quite yet. The world doesn’t yet realize how urgently it needs her. Not all of it.

What impacted me most, immediately rocked me from reading this as a comic only, were the glimpses of the future forced to us now. Shuri engaging technology as a spiritual and actual neighbor, her flying above, but being fully grounded with, Wakanda. In her hands and mind, Wakanda feels rather like a space station, and she is searching further into the stars while still having the world around her home press against her.

There is always work to be done. A family to save. A brother to protect. A genius mind to be balanced against a world without a vocabulary to speak to it.

Shuri is no island in these works. That is what rocked me next. The strength of purpose of not only the nation of Wakanda, but the women of Wakanda being, and further becoming, the voice of the nation, and this comic world.

Where in the end of issue 1, where you count on the hero team coming together, we are given our alliance. We are allowed to see what a future hero team will look like. There before us, taking up the mantle, knowing what must be done, are the women of Wakanda. Not the royals, or the Council, or the supposedly powerful. The women of Wakanda. From all walks of life, from all places and beings, and experiences. A chorus of the voice of women, in that setting.

Shuri, if we are being most honest, is precisely what the future of heroes can and should look like. She comes replete with all of the grand strengths and flaws of heroes, and is so much more fleshed out toward what heroes, and humans, should evolve toward.

The voice, and feeling, and tone, and power of this work is grounded in how confidently it asserted this story being that of women. It feels right as it is the direction we need to ascend toward should we seek true evolution. This first issue felt very much like a shout.

I am looking forward to every issue, every month, and in being similarly rocked, and seeing this new, and future hero, get after it. This feels like a moment we should not miss out on having been present for, as I believe it will be the truth of our future very soon.

If we are to be grow, and necessarily change and be preserved, it will be influenced largely by the will and genius of Women. We will arrive at the necessary junctures with Women at the lead, and our greatest stories and victories will be penned and spoken by Women.

This tale, Shuri, is rather more than a comic, and we are fortunate for that. Read up.

I am a Clinical Psychologist, husband and father, Professor, lover of all things Star Wars, Wakandan refugee, TEDx performer, and believer in human potential