Marvel’s new Black Panther collection reveals a brand new T’Challa with new challenges

Black Panther #1 is a brand new starting for one in every of Marvel’s hottest characters. The titular hero is again from his adventures in space and finds a world of tasks, each in Wakanda and with the Avengers, laid at his ft. Is it good? Is it nice? Is it a disappointment or a step again?

Effectively … it’s difficult.

Who’s making Black Panther #1?

Taking on from the bold but inconsistent run of Ta-Nehisi Coates (a characterization Coates himself might not disagree with), author John Ridley (screenwriter to the masterful 12 Years a Slave; author of the bold The Other History of the DC Universe and the extra banal I Am Batman) begins a brand new period for each the comedian and the character. Juann Cabal (Guardians of the Galaxy) has artwork duties, whereas Federico Blee is dealing with the colours.

What’s Black Panther #1 about?

T’Challa leads the Avengers to victory in opposition to generic brainless baddies™️, but Captain America calls him to process. The Avengers want management persistently, and T’Challa, as a king on Earth and an emperor within the stars, isn’t at all times constant.

(Have any Avengers been constant, ever? Is anybody asking the hammer-less Thor or the lifeless Dr. Unusual this? Questions that want solutions.)

And the entire emperor/king factor? That’s not going too properly both.

Throughout Coates’ run, Wakanda turned a democracy, with the Black Panther serving as figurehead and protector, however not an unquestioned chief. Sidelined politically and annoyed by the mundane trivialities of laws, T’Challa excuses himself from political proceedings solely to be confronted and comforted by a soldier. This mercenary tells T’Challa that the individuals need the looks of accountability, however will ultimately yearn for a robust savior. T’Challa thanks him for “lyrically expressing what I’m feeling.”

The story ends with T’Challa confiding to Shuri that somebody has cracked an previous state secret of his, and its ramifications might trigger chaos all through the dominion.

Why is that this guide occurring now?

Given the noteworthy success of Black Panther throughout media, Marvel might Sick afford to let one in every of its hottest characters sit on the sidelines (particularly with a film scheduled — very tentatively — for subsequent yr.) As Coates has gone up, up, and away to pursue different ventures, Marvel wanted to make sure its widespread franchise would stay distinguished.

Is there any required studying?

Frustratingly, no. Certain, it might be useful to be accustomed to the final 5 years of Black Panther tales, as T’Challa misplaced the religion of his individuals, regained it by making a democracy, left for area to find some time-displaced Wakandan astronauts, and returned the proprietor of an intergalactic empire that he liberated from the descendants of these misplaced area explorers. However there’s solely a passing reference to the Empire, and the character of democracy is defined in a single panel. This can be a guide that may really be higher acquired for those who didn’t learn what got here earlier than.

Which, actually, is an issue.

Is Black Panther #1 good?

Black Panther is greater than a comedian; The Black Panther is a character. And whereas the comedian is ok, I discover myself severely disillusioned within the character. Nothing right here is unhealthy — a lot is definitely fairly good — however nothing is especially memorable. Nothing sticks with you.

Coates’ T’Challa, removed from a swaggering swashbuckler, was guilt-ridden, pensive, cerebral … scared. He deferred to these wiser than him, lots of whom had been feminine (Romonda, Shuri, Storm, even the manifestation of the goddess Bast).

So to see T’Challa so disrespectfully dismissive to a girl in energy; to see him embrace a militarist ideology that flies within the face of the democracy he willingly created; to look at him act unilaterally, recklessly, after we’ve seen him accomplish a lot extra with others — it’s galling and irritating. But for some, possibly for a lot of, what I name frustration is likely to be preferable.

T’Challa right here is extra inline with earlier characterizations from Christopher Priest and Reginald Hudlin, a return to character for a person who annulled a wedding in the course of a battle and who willingly joined a gaggle known as the Illuminati. Nonetheless, to see Coates’ characterization rolled again so unceremoniously gave me pause.

That is, in fact, just one concern, and there’s a lot of story left to inform. Black Panther #1 is an efficient, environment friendly romp that’s properly price your time. You must learn it. You would possibly adore it in locations the place I don’t prefer it. And that’s okay. Black Panther #1, like all good artwork, is difficult.

One panel that popped

“Am I ready...?” asks large block text, over images of Black Panther confronting Storm and the X-Men, Captain America, and the Dora Milaje themselves in Black Panther #1 (2021).

The final panel, with the foreshadowing of every thing to come back, is each artistically properly executed and foreboding for all it implies.

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