Princess Zanda of Narobia
Zanda is one of the strange characters from Marvel Comics’ Black Panther run by Jack “the King” Kirby. She first appeared in 1977.
This profile is intended to be read after the Abner Little character profile. Since they usually appear in the same stories.
- Real Name: Zanda.
- Known Relatives: Emir Zander (father, deceased).
- Group Affiliation: Head of the Narobian government.
- Base of Operations: Narobia, later France.
- Height: 5’11” (1.80m). Weight: 155 lbs. (70 Kg.).
- Eyes: Blue, obviously (later coloured hazel). Hair: Black (henna-dyed).
Powers & Abilities
Zanda is tall, in good shape and health, and has some combat training. She’s a good shot, actually.
She can also pilot aircrafts, including some strange ones.
Like Mr. Little, she is knowledgeable about strange artefacts. But she doesn’t seem to be a scholar like he is.
Zanda might speak Swahili and/or Standard Arabic.
The Princess’ people skills are on par with those of a diarrheic llama. She’s also not the most rational person you know (hopefully).
On the other hand, she wields enormous wealth and has many strange contacts. These two assets often allow her to deploy elite agents with exotic, advanced equipment and vehicles.
A strange flying interceptor, which could swallow a medium-sized helicopter or a jet fighter to capture them. Presumably, a tractor beam, internal inertia fields and other super-tech are necessary to scoop aircrafts in mid-air.
Her mercenaries also flew transport helicopters *vaguely* resembling Hinds . These seemed modified for speed, like Mister Little’s helicopter (without the afterburner).
The VTOL gunship seen in 1999 was Zorba’s.
Zanda sometimes wields a large pistol, the “nerve waves emitter”. It shoots “droning waves of force”. It even brought down the Black Panther, though of course she shot him in the back and from ambush.
Narobia could deploy a large nuclear missile, with enormous power but limited range (1,000 miles or so ?).
In 1999, she produced a compact energy pistol that could briefly stop Carnivore (Count Zorba). Its beam looked similar to Iron Man’s repulsors.
The “jet pack squad” (actually five or six troopers) wore high-altitude, possibly armoured suits. Their jet packs could easily keep up with Mister Little’s high-perf helicopter, and they wielded carbines with advanced armour-piercing rounds.
The squaddies were also trained at aerial interception.
The mercenaries in Narobia City had kirbyesque pistols and carbines. In the 1970s, their guns may have had the performances of 2000s small arms.
They seem well-trained and disciplined.
Narobia is calling
Narobia is a small fictional African nation. It’s between Sudan and Uganda.
It’s thus North of the Great Lakes area – in the corner between Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. Marvel has a cluster of imaginary countries there, many of them involved in the Black Panther’s adventures. These essentially take up real-world Southwestern Ethiopia.
This general area is also notable since it was among the few not to get colonised by European powers. The key Ethiopian victory in maintaining independence from Italy was the battle of Adwa .
“Narobia” evokes Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. But there’s about 700 kilometers (430 miles) between the two.
Some suitable 1977 music… well, Fela always works.
Curiously, Narobia is an Emirate. Arabic seems commonly spoken there, and one imagines that Sunni Islam might be the dominant faith.
Though historically there have been, uh, ties between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, Narobia seems a little too remote for that. And both Southern Sudan and Uganda are strongly Christian.
So something peculiar — and unique to the Marvel Universe — must have happened to create this small spot of green.
The Marvel Atlas describes Narobia as “secretive”. I’m not sure how it could manifest. But perhaps this unique history also allowed Narobia to maintain tight control of its borders. Something involving djinns, maybe.
The data in the Marvel Atlas also mentions the Narobian Shilling as the currency, and the English language being widespread. Either it was colonised by the UK for a while (as with neighbouring countries), or there was a large British trading post that shaped the modern Narobian economy.
Diamonds and rust
This trading post hypothesis is credible since Narobia is loaded with underground resources – particularly diamonds and oil. Though it’s a small-ish country, it holds enormous wealth.
Under the rule of Emir Zander — Zanda’s father — it developed its own industrial base, likely to refine extracted resources. And thus not get robbed by neo-colonial concerns.
The Atlas also mentions that Narobia has ties with France. Furthermore, one Narobian character is named Angélique.
The simplest hypothesis is that there was a major French diplomatic, commercial and cultural push during the 1960s. Back when colonial empires finished collapsing, France was working overtime to maintain influence and business interests through large chunks of Africa.
Even in areas it hadn’t previously colonised, such as Rwanda. Where that eventually had terrible consequences.
But heh, maybe 1970s Nairobians just loved Jean-Pierre Melville movies and Michel Polnareff songs . It worked for Japan, innit ?
The capital has colourful, fantastico-futuristic Kirby architecture. It is crawling with well-armed mercenaries in yellow Spandex, weird technology, and luxurious amenities.
The countryside is dirt-poor African bush, with little infrastructure and low-tech subsistence agriculture. It’s like going from the 2050s to the 1940s within ten minutes.
One suspects that the industrial centres are in-between the two. With modern but not advanced facilities, and workers getting okay-ish compensations.
History (XXth Century)
(Again, I’m assuming you read the Mister Little character profile. And thus don’t need a primer about, say, the Collectors.)
Princess Zanda came to rule after the death of her father, Emir Zander.
Her reign seems to have been a disaster. She used Narobia’s enormous resources to assuage her passion for collecting rare artefacts. This also seemingly led to significant corruption issues.
Furthermore, Zanda’s thefts of historical artefacts in other lands made her an international criminal. She’s a wanted woman in 15 countries.
A 2012 story mentions that a civil war in Narobia has been lasting for 25 years. Two hypotheses :
- This is on a non-sliding time scale . So the war started in 1987, at least ten years within Zanda’s reign.
- This is on a sliding time scale, and thus perennially precedes the “Marvel Age” by a dozen years. Which likely means that the war was already a thing by Emir Zander’s time.
The civil war seemingly only took place in the bush, as the capital was far too well-fortified.
Croak and dagger
Princess Zanda first appeared after Mister Abner Little located the first of King Solomon’s Frogs. She tried hard to kill him and his ally the Black Panther (T’Challa), so she could snatch their prize.
However, the devastating encounter with the Six-Million-Year Man, and her wish to associate with the handsome T’Challa, led her to ally with Little.
Procuring the second Frog allowed for banishing the 6Ma Man within the Tomb of King Solomon. So, a Tuesday.
After narrowly escaping from the Tomb of King Solomon, the trio left for Narobia. Since Zanda had the only working aircraft left.
Quest for water
The Collectors were all present in Narobia. Zanda had been forming a coalition, as her men had recently discovered the location of the legendary Samurai City.
The Collectors wanted Mr. Little and Mr. T’Challa to breach the impregnable City. But the King of Wakanda was having none of that.
After a vapid attempt at vamping him, Zanda resorted to threatening to nuke nearby Wakanda to force T’Challa’s hand.
The threat was serious. T’Challa could see the missile. And the Collectors were uncompromising – as they thought that the City held the secret of immortality.
Out of Narobia
The Panther got in and out of Samurai City, and Little managed to steal a bit of immortality water.
But when he produced that upon returning, the Collectors went hysterical and tried to seize it. In the fray, a bullet shattered the vial.
The Black Panther stole a helicopter, and left for Wakanda. With the water lost, Zanda had nothing to gain from him.
(One also suspects that Wakanda could easily have intercepted Zanda’s missile. But T’Challa was careful not to mention that.)
Yes indeed ! The very Temple of Balthakk !
In 1999, Abner Little discovered an ancient, mystical temple under the ice. Two Collectors — Princess Zanda and Count Zorba — barged in in a gunship, but Iron Man (Tony Stark) downed them.
The pair unconvincingly argued that they didn’t mean to attack. But their actions, and those of other Collectors, resulted in breaches in several such temples across the world. This activated a mystical competition, the Wager Of The Octessence.
Eight mystical champions, the Exemplars, arose. This resulted in a global crisis, as each Exemplar was incredibly powerful.
Gee, thanks Collectors.
History (XXIst Century)
By 2002, Zanda had been deposed – seemingly recently. However, that didn’t bring any resolution to the Narobian civil war.
She fled to the US.
Seeking to keep a low profile, she took a menial position at a KFC drive-in restaurant. Though she kept her fantastic, Kirbyesque costumes. And kept insanely ranting about world domination.
Happy pants panther
Both Zanda and Abner Little were recruited by the “Happy Pants” Panther. This was the nickname of a future version of the Black Panther (T’Challa) who had travelled back to the past.
The zany, enthusiastic “Happy Pants” Panther needed their expertise about the Frogs of Solomon. Nostalgia also meant that he craved engaging in four-colourSomething goofy from over-the-top early comic books., epic Kirby-style adventures as he did in his youth.
Pistol in hand, Zanda and Little helped this Panther invade the island of Kiber the Cruel. They fought manifestations of their 1970s quests. Then recovered the second of the two Frogs T’Challa needed for his plan.
Zanda helped until the last part of the plan. At which point she had to stay in the helicopter, rather than help with the final use of the Frogs within the White House .
She likely volunteered for this. Since most of those who helped with the Frogs knew they would then be arrested by the United States Secret Service . Which, in Zanda’s case, may have meant deportation to Narobia.
By 2006, Zanda was once again wealthy – though presumably she had but a fraction of her previous fortune. She also had obtained asylum in Southern France.
Zanda was dismissively referred to as “the Paris Hilton of Africa”. One suspects that she had reinvented herself as a “famous for being famous” celeb, with a suitably attention-grabbing lifestyle and constant scandals.
Upon learning that King T’Challa was to marry Storm (Ororo Munroe), the unhinged Zanda flew to the US.
She conducted a shopping rampage in Manhattan, announcing to everyone that she was going to marry T’Challa. In her bizarre worldview, the Panther would no doubt marry her rather than a mutant street urchin.
This led to a confrontation with Storm, who was also doing a bit of shopping with Kitty Pryde and Susan Richards. Once provoked, Ms. Munroe punched Zanda out.
A few months later, in 2007, Zanda was part of a pan-African conference about the treatment of superhumans, organised by Wakanda.
Her presence is intriguing, since she still was deposed and in exile.
Perhaps it was her knowledge of mysteries, artefacts and secrets across the continent that made her a contributor ?
Zanda continued to work with the Collectors (or “Council of Antiquarians”, as they now insisted). Part of their current plans was testing the skills of the Black Cat (Felicia Hardy) as a thief-for-hire.
However, these strange events were retroactively consigned to another timeline – Earth-11127. So they never actually happened on Earth-616The main Marvel Comics version of Earth., and can be ignored for biographical purposes.
If her thing during the 2000s was to be a professionally-in-the-gossip-pages celeb, it is possible that 2020-ish Zanda has since pivoted to YouTube and Instagram. Her “authentic personality”, rants, beauty, weirdness, etc. could be a hit there.
Plus, she too inherited a fortune built on the exploitation of African workers in gemstones mines. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t be as famous as the other guy.
Holy Kirby Hat™, Batman !
Under the hat, Zanda has straightened long hair, dyed deep red – perhaps henna.
Zanda is every bit as tall as Storm, and has slightly broader shoulders.
Zanda is nuts, power-mad, high on privilege, and has the emotional maturity of a spoiled 11-year old.
She wants ALL THE COOL THINGS, and will throw a tantrum (possibly involving warfighting weaponry) whenever frustrated. One of the things she wants is T’Challa.
Zanda exclaims a lot, feels like she should threaten everyone at least thrice an hour, and vituperates with the best of ’em.
Being a Kirby character, she is of course highly articulate and can speechify at the drop of, well, anything really. It doesn’t have to be a hat.
High evil overwitch
After she was deposed, Zanda seemed even more divorced from reality. She was frequently ranting about how she was destined to conquer the world, and narrating her past adventures to random passersby.
(During this story arc, the effect was increased as the Kirby-era characters were drawn, inked and coloured in a vintage Kirby-like style. But everything else was depicted in a much more realistic manner.)
Aside from the Storm short brawl, writers have trod a line where Zanda is unhinged and silly, but also dangerous and full of maniacal energy. She’s not a buffoon. She’s a billionaire aristocrat who lives in a weird and deadly world, full of ancient secrets and high-tech violence.
“Stand aside, you fumbling clowns !!”
“Servile buffoon ! You’re fortunate that I didn’t turn my nerve waves on the lot of you !”
“Don’t you DARE claim it for your own –! It’s mine ! MINE !”
“Curse this thing from the ages to come !”
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
|Dex: 03||Str: 02||Bod: 03|
|Int: 04||Wil: 04||Min: 03|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 04||Spi: 03|
|Init: 013||HP: 025|
Evasion (Ranged only): 04, Gadgetry (ID gadget): 03, Martial artist: 03, Thief (Concealment): 03, Vehicles: 03, Weaponry (Firearms, exotic): 05
Credentials (Narobia, High), Familiarity (Mysterious artefacts throughout the world), Rank (Commander).
SIA toward Greed, MIA toward Threatening Everyone.
After her exile to the US, Zanda’s Wealth drops to 002. In part because, unlike most KFC employees, she has no notion about managing a budget. She also loses her Rank and Credentials.
By 2006, she has bounced back to Wealth 009, possibly more.
A broad Vehicles Skill is intuitively correct for her, but only Air was demonstrated.
I highballed her Hero Points – 015 would be more conservative. But I have this sense that living in her own reality also makes her oddly able to ignore the perils of the real world. She has been to super-dangerous places, in big fights, and got out without a scratch.
SCOOPING INTERCEPTOR [STR 09 BODY 11, Flight: 08, Radar sense: 18, R#3].
Nerve waves pistol [BODY 01, Enhance (AV): 02 (cap is 07), Sonic beam (Area of Effect 0 APs): 09, Ammo: 08, R#3]. The blast is large and the waves appear self-directing to an extent. So it seems it’s a rare case of an AV-augmenting gun.
Compact repulsor pistol [BODY 02, Energy blast: 11, Miniaturisation: 04, Range: 03, Ammo: 04, R#4, Limitation: Energy Blast has no Range, use the listed Range instead]. Miniaturisation APs based on the impression that this normally should be a shoulder-fired weapon with external, plugged-in batteries.
Most of the men accompanying Zanda seem to have Shock Troops stats. She’s crap as an officer, but these guys actually seemed pretty good.
The jet packs has Flight: 08. There’s not enough data about the rest, though the guns likely had Sharpness (Projectile Weapons): 03.
Source of Character: Black Panther comics.
Writeup completed on the 8th of June, 2021.