Wow. Two weeks in a row about a character I was sure I wrote up ages ago. True, I was a lot more sure I’ve never covered Queen Divine Justice before, but there’s a reason for that. Namely, I am not sure she is a hero when she may be more of a supporting character.
Nevertheless, she is rather awesome, so here we go.
Queen Divine Justice was one of the Dora Milaje, the all-woman army of bodyguards that protect Wakanda and, specifically, the Black Panther. And no, “Queen Divine Justice” is not her real name.
To best understand where Queen Divine Justice came from, we should look at the circumstances that created the character. Marvel wasn’t in the best of places, so they gave various secondary characters to Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti and their company Event Comics. This was not the first time Marvel did this during the company’s Chapter 11 period. The other one, of course, is the Heroes Reborn period.
However, the “Marvel Knights” imprint was a little different in that the characters were still in the main Marvel Universe. And while Daredevil was the flagship series of that run, the longest running was almost certainly Black Panther from writer Christopher Priest.
Now, today, the Black Panther is one of Marvel’s biggest characters. Prior to 1998, that wasn’t always true. He had a few solo series in the past, but mostly he was at best a supporting character who sometimes hung out with the Avengers or Fantastic Four. Enter Christopher Priest:
Priest’s style was, well, his own. His stories often play around with space and time, jumping around from one chronological point to another. He only gradually explained what was really going on, and his work was often politically conscious. But, more importantly, he invented a number of the things we associate with the Black Panther today. Priest’s Panther was basically the Marvel Batman. He had contingency plans for everything and was basically the best strategist in the Marvel Universe. This was a guy who finally admitted he joined the Avengers so he could spy on them from the inside.
Worth noting, Captain America was ultimately fine with that. See, it may have been the reason he joined, but it wasn’t the reason he stayed.
Now, subsequent writers expanded greatly on Priest’s revamp of the Panther, but arguably Priest’s biggest addition to Panther lore was the Dora Milaje. Originally, Priest presented them as bodyguards and potential brides for the Panther. The people of Wakanda sorta expected T’Challa to marry one of them. Each one represented a different tribe of Wakanda. As it is, the Panther knew picking one would cause more problems, so he opted not to pick either of them.
Yes, there were originally only two.
That’s important. One decided she didn’t want to wait for that proposal and went rogue. That meant the Panther had to pick a new one. He opted for Queen Divine Justice.
Now, how did she get that name? That’s simple: she gave it to herself. Her birth name was Ce’Athauna Asira Davin, and the “:Asira Davin” translated to “the Peace of God”. Queen Divine Justice wasn’t really peaceful. Her first appearance in the Black Panther series showed her telling people off all over her hometown of Chicago, culminating with the Hulk.
Yes, that Hulk.
And she tamed him.
Yes, that Hulk.
Mostly, it came down to her attitude left the Hulk more confused than anything else, especially when she was suddenly on his side when the Panther showed up. Queen Divine Justice had no issue with the Hulk being himself. Her biggest objection was the Hulk breaking the neighborhood full of poor people.
At this point, she even told off the Panther with the Hulk as back-up, leading to my favorite moment in the entire run.
QDJ: You just lie to Hulk!
Hulk: Lie to Hulk!
QDJ: Take advantage of Hulk!
Hulk: Take advantage of Hulk!
QDJ: Disenfranchise Hulk!
Hulk: Lie to Hulk!
And then they went clubbing.
Point is, Queen Divine Justice came across as a headache-in-the-making for the coolest cat in the Marvel Universe and even a force of nature.
That said, she probably never equaled that first appearance. Now, she did get to hang out with then-president George W. Bush when a bad guy found a way to make time displaced copies of world leaders to do said bad guy’s bidding. The highlight there was the Queen using her usual political ramblings only to find the President had actual intelligent, politically conservative views on his own policies and he wasn’t just some bumbling idiot who didn’t know what he was talking about, reducing the Queen to speechlessness.
Now, hold on, I said that all Dora Milaje represented a different tribe. Which one did the Queen represent? And why would her father transplant the family to America? Well, that was because her tribe were the Jabari. The Panther had outlawed those guys, and their tribal leader the Man-Ape often had problems with that.
And that may be why Queen Divine Justice ultimately didn’t work out. She seems to become more of a pawn to various forces after that as she tries to work out something for her tribe without really letting anyone get hurt. She’d eventually just wander off to find her own path in Wakanda and…well, that seems to be about it. Since then, we’ve seen the creation of Shuri, T’Challa’s equally impressive sister. Arguably, Shuri fits the Queen Divine Justice character type better than the Queen did. Heck, for a period, Shuri was an actual queen.
Or maybe no one else feels confident enough to do much with this character Christopher Priest created. Given the creative styling of Priest, I wouldn’t blame anyone if that were the case. Point is, we haven’t seen her in a while as near as I can make out.
Then again, characters like this if they were real, would probably only come out when they felt like it anyway. It worked for Barnardine in Measure for Measure…