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Aneka And Ayo The Midnight Angels

Aneka and Ayo are two members of the elite Dora Milaje, a group of warrior women sworn to protect Wakanda and its rulers. As the combat instructor, Aneka comes into contact with every existing soldier and new recruit such as Ayo. Their first meeting is filled with tension when a confident and outspoken Ayo challenges certain assertions made by Captain Aneka in her initial meeting with a group of new recruits. Ayo is bested in the game of fighting skills that follows her challenge. In the weeks that follow the two women privately grapple with questions as the sexual nature of their tension becomes more obvious to them which begins to soften if just slightly only after Aneka is wounded during a fight with a group of invading Atlanteans and Ayo comes to her side to bandage the wound and offer emotional support. A very heated argument allows their passion to break through and the two women find themselves in each other’s company as often as their duties allow in the following weeks. The secretiveness creates its own tension as they struggle to remain true to their oaths and responsibilities as Dora Milaje. Festering for some time, the stress drives Aneka and Ayo to confront Queen Shuri with facts about T’Challa’s deal making with Namor, an enemy to Wakanda. With the truth finally spoken, Commander Zola decrees the Dora Milaje can no longer blindly follow T’Challa and must put the best interest of Wakanda above all else. Ayo, seeing Aneka’s devastation over the change in the institution and tradition and her role in it, steps up to become Aneka’s strength and compass.

Aneka continues to be more comfortable keeping their relationship secret despite how apparent Commander Zola’s knowledge and acceptance of it is, especially in the scene in which she grants the women time away from their duties. Time away in New York City is good for both, discounting some initial bickering and being the focus of a failed mugging. However, Aneka reasserts her need to honor obligations once they return to Wakanda and with Zola’s blessing volunteers for a mission to determine if a tribal chief is abusing women in his city. Upon finding the ugly reality, Aneka violates Wakandan law and kills the chief, whose daughter Folami is also a Dora Milaje and on bad terms with Aneka. A judge finds Aneka guilty and sentences her to death; a verdict which sets Ayo on a quest to free her lover, first with pleas. A crucial bit of aid from Zola gives Ayo the opportunity to take prototype Midnight Angel battle armor suits and use it to break Aneka out of her Fort Hahn prison cell. After a night hiding in the countryside dedicate themselves to helping oppressed Wakandans whom the Crown has ignored and dub themselves the Midnight Angels.

Ayo and Aneka make their way to a compound full of men who have been terrorizing local women. Aneka kills the men in order to rescue the hostages. Sensing an opportunity, White Gorilla insurgent forces attempt to take the village and surrounding area and are met with a forceful pair of Midnight Angels and newly freed women. After successfully routing them, Aneka, Ayo, and the growing band of women take control of the Jabari Lands and set about restoring law and order with the aim of establishing an independent country. As unrest continues among various factions in Wakanda, Ayo and Aneka establish an alliance with a rebel faction and subsequently end it after coming to the realization thanks to former Queen Shuri that it was not at all in their best interest. Shuri’s words are also instrumental in seeing T’Challa as an honorable man and the Midnight Angels coming to his aid. Though Ayo and Aneka’s demands for an independent land were unsurprisingly rebuffed their efforts and ideology can be seen as a contributing factor to T’Challa’s decision to change Wakanda from a monarchy to a constitutional democracy.

A point of particular note: The love which Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay gave Ayo and Aneka for one another is only surpassed by their honor and desire for truth and equality. To risk one’s life and to renounce tradition and country in an attempt to make those ideals a reality is a powerful message.

Aneka created by Jonathan Mayberry and Will Conrad. She first appeared in Black Panther #8 (vol 5, 2009). Ayo created by Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort. Her first appearance is in Ultimates #1 (vol 2, 2016). Roxane Gay fleshes out their back story in Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 – 5, also available in trade. This profile is based on information and stories from Black Panther (2016) and Black Panther: World of Wakanda, all of which are available in print or digital from Amazon or your local comic shop or bookstore. Please contact us if you know of relevant information in either character’s previous appearances.

Feature art from Jen Bartel’s variant cover for Black Panther: World of Wakanda #5. Other art by Brian Steelfreeze from Black Panther #1.

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