Heavy is the head that wears the crown, especially when that head also contemplates the future of her country while worrying about a king-super hero son, the Black Panther.
Ramonda, the Queen Mother of Wakanda might not have given birth to T’Challa, but she has filled the matriarchal role for him most of his life. The boy who would be king never actually knew his birth mother as N’Yami perished in the act of delivering the future Black Panther. Ever since her first appearance in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #14, the South African Ramonda has tried to fulfill her role as both queen to the nation and mother to T’Challa.
Sometime after N’Yami’s passing, T’Chaka and Ramonda fell in love, married and the two eventually produced a child, Shuri. After the death of T’Chaka, Ramonda seemed to drift away from her one-time home, but eventually T’Challa learned the truth: she’d been taken by a white supremacist named Anton Pretorius who kept her captive, abusing her as he saw fit for years, as recounted in the 1990 limited series BLACK PANTHER: PANTHER’S PREY.
Upon rescuing her from Pretorius, T’Challa reinstated Ramonda as the Queen Mother, a position she continues to serve with dignity, poise and warrior’s spirit to this day. When Christopher Priest launched his BLACK PANTHER series in 1998, he brought Ramonda into the picture with the very first issue kicking off a series of appearances in each successive volume.
In a flashback to the day T’Challa won the title of Black Panther as seen in BLACK PANTHER #2 from 2005, Ramonda expressed a mix of pride and sadness because he now bore the same target his father did. Later in that same arc, Klaw attempted to threaten the Queen Mother, but she took advantage of an attack and freed herself.
Ramonda also helped kick-start another important stage in T’Challa’s life: his search for a queen. Soon he decides to ask Ororo “Storm” Munroe to be his wife and she agrees, leading to one of the few peaceful weddings in the history of the Marvel Universe! Not only does Ramonda approve of the union, but she also oversees the human side of the ceremony with the Panther God taking care of the other half.
Eventually Ramonda’s daughter Shuri took on the mantle of Black Panther in her own series which ran from 2009-2010. The Queen Mother appeared in nearly every issue of that title offering support and strength. Even in the face of an invasion by Doctor Doom in DOOMWAR, Ramonda demanded that Storm stop helping the dictator even if it meant the end of her own life.
Wakanda became the target of a great many attacks after that from Atlantis, the Namor-lead Cabal, and other forces leading up to Secret Wars. In the wake of the reality-altering event, Ramonda still stood as the Queen Mother of Wakanda.
In the current series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ramonda unknowingly prompted the genesis of the Midnight Angels by refusing to save the life of fallen Dora Milaje Aneka. Meanwhile, the Queen Mother encouraged her son to remain focused on running the entire country while also reaching out to an old friend who may have answers about another problem plaguing Wakanda.
Before a blast nearly killed her in BLACK PANTHER #4, she offered her son some hard truths: “You say you have given it all. You are wrong. You have never truly given yourself to your country.”
Follow Ramonda’s story into BLACK PANTHER #8 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chris Sprouse, available November 16!