A king fights for his country
Ta-Nehisi Coates (W), Chris Sprouse (P) Karl Story (I), Laura Martin (CA)
Cover by: Brian Stelfreeze
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s been a while since I’ve discussed this series, and, for that, I feel like I’ve failed you. This is honestly one of the most interesting comics I’m reading at the moment. Furthermore, it’s up there with the Ultimates, Power Man and Iron Fist, and the Thunderbolts in being one of my favorite comic books that I’m reading right now.
As I’ve said before, T’Challa really may be the most interesting super hero of either universe. This comic has succeeded in capturing that and doing the Black Panther justice.
The main story of this series has been a steadily growing revolution in the Panther’s home of Wakanda. It started from two fronts. One front are the two powered individuals, Tetu and Zenzi. The other front is the Midnight Angels, two skilled soldiers that once served the crown whom are using prototype power suits. These two factions have begun talks on working together to overthrow the crown and, at last, bring democracy to Wakanda.
T’Challa’s efforts to shut these factions down have only exacerbated the situation. Worse yet, Tetu and Zenzi have turned to the weapon’s expert Ezekiel Stane for support in their revolution.
The latest assault from the revolutionaries has been in the form of a suicide bomb attack in the Golden City. These attacks seriously injured T’Challa’s mother, and this has enraged the King of Wakanda.
The ingenious thing about this plot is that both sides do have legitimate claims at righteousness. You are made to root for Black Panther because he’s the protagonist, the hero, the Avenger, and he really does want the best for his country and his people. However, the revolutionaries are trying to bring the power to the people. Black Panther has made missteps recently, and Wakanda has fallen into chaos on his watch. Even if they have some unsavory methods, they also want what is best for their homeland. Furthermore, T’Challa is beginning to allow anger and heated emotions to influence his decision making.
It is in this climate from which this issue starts.
T’Challa has employed the aid of Eden aka Manifold to aid in his fight against the revolutionaries. On an operation with Eden, Panther and his vanguard discover an operating room in which the suicide bombers have been created. The unconscious bombers have devices that look startlingly like Arc reactors implanted into their chest.
Later in the issue, T’Challa holds a meeting with national security officials from a number of totalitarian regimes around the world, including Symkaria, Santo Marco, and the former state of Genosha. Black Panther inquires them on how to deal with the growing revolution.
The story also continues Shuri’s training in the astral plane of the Djalia. The spirit mother that has been training her gives her a history lesson to teach her how Wakanda has survived for centuries.
This was a very good continuation to the story. It shows the further extremes to which Black Panther is going to in the name of preserving his country. T’Challa is desperate. Wakanda is the thing closest to his heart, and he is watching it crumble before his very eyes. The reader is given the impression that he wants to remain king because he believes he is the only one worthy of protecting her.
The revolutionaries are compelling, but Tetu and Zenzi still need more fleshing out. You are made to sympathize with their cause, but they, as characters, are not full enough yet. Compared to the Midnight Angels, there is something to be desired with these two. That being said, they make a play in this issue that will have lasting and catastrophic damage on T’Challa’s image before his people.
The art remains very good. Stelfreeze has taken a break for this arc, but Sprouse, Story, and Martin put together a gorgeously vivid issue. It’s not as stylized as Stelfreeze’s work, but it’s still definitively fitting for the Black Panther’s book.
Coates has fleshed out the geography and culture of Wakanda in interesting ways through this series. You are made to understand the country, how it works, and what has led to this point. You understand the motivation for which both factions are fighting. This is a clever move, and I admire it.
This series is a fantastic piece of literature, and it’s being written by someone who will surely be a rising star in the comic book world. Give it a read. It’s interesting, enjoyable, and delightfully morally ambiguous. I highly recommend it.
Final Score: 9/10