Black Panther #1

8.5 Overall Score
Art: 8/10
Dialogue: 8/10
Story: 9/10

Really great setting - way different than we're used to.

The monochromatic backgrounds get a little boring.

Black Panther #1
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Cover Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
Marvel Comics
2016

A new era for the Black Panther starts here! Written by MacArthur Genius and National Book Award winner TA-NEHISI COATES (Between the World and Me) and illustrated by living legend BRIAN STELFREEZE, “A Nation Under Our Feet” is a story about dramatic upheaval in Wakanda and the Black Panther’s struggle to do right by his people as their ruler. The indomitable will of Wakanda — the famed African nation known for its vast wealth, advanced technology and warrior traditions — has long been reflected in the will of its monarchs, the Black Panthers. But now the current Black Panther, T’Challa, finds that will tested by a superhuman terrorist group called The People that has sparked a violent uprising among the citizens of Wakanda. T’Challa knows the country must change to survive — the question is, will the Black Panther survive the change?

Black Panther #1 is the long-awaited debut of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, so it’s sure to be a best seller no matter what. I’m happy to say though, that from what we see here, issue 2 should sell almost just as well. The comic gets right into the action as T’Challa returns to rule his kingdom and sets about correcting everything that went wrong in his absence. Best of all, though, is how little action there is. The story says it best, Black Panther isn’t a soldier, he’s a king. He can’t be just “the sword, [he] must be the intelligence behind it.”

With such an anticipated writer, the art may be trying not to steal the show, but it also may do that a little too well. Most of the book is fine, but there are several parts I found lacking. Many of the backgrounds are a single color, which does a poor job of setting the story in the kingdom so important to it. There’s an over-use of shadow, too, which feels a bit lazy. A lot of could-be-cool details are lost to huge blocks of black on the page. It adds a sense of style to the book, but I’m not convinced that it’s worth the trade of.

And the story shines without any help, of course. Coates does an excellent job of setting the tone of helplessness, loyalty, and duty right off the bat. A personal pet peeve of mine is how often first issues waste pages telling the reader what has happened instead of showing them what is happening now, and this is an excellent example of how to avoid that. There has to be some back story, or readers may not care about what’s happening or why, but instead of a narrator telling us everything, or some day dreamy flashback in the middle of a fight, things unfold naturally as characters deal with them. It’s there that Coates’ talent really manifests, in shaping a story and knowing how to tell it. It looks like it’s going to be a good run.

The strongest impression that issue #1 makes on me, is that sure, Black Panther is the kind of hero who could track down the bad guys and beat them in a fight, but he cannot be that kind of king. If he personally takes that action, his kingdom will suffer, and his people are more important than his self. That’s a story I want to read. That’s a great take on the troubles facing a super hero. No falling school grades, no part-time job to worry about, no sweetheart to hide his secret identity from – a KINGDOM will rise or fall depending on this man, and he can’t even take things into his own hands. Those are great stakes.

But should you buy it? If you’re interested at all in seeing what this hot new writer is all about, yes, you should pick this one up for sure. But I’m betting there’s a good chance that once you satisfy your curiosity and can talk all about the new guy with certainty, you’ll be back for the next issue because you’re genuinely interested in what’s going to happen next.

 

 

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Author: Brian Reed View all posts by
"Brian has been a nerd, gamer, and comic book geek since the NES was cool, nerds weren't, and comics cost $0.75. Though his hobbies now cost a fair bit more, he is no less passionate about his escapism. He is proud to be a part of both the Florida Geek Scene and The Nerdstravaganza Podcast."

One Comment on "Black Panther #1"

  1. Brent Mead May 15, 2016 at 4:53 am - Reply

    Black Panther was all out the best character in Captain America: Civil War. I figure that’s why Marvel is attempting another try at a Black Panther series. Their is just something about Kirby’s Black Panther that made this character stand out that other artists just can’t helm. Some day Marvel will get this character right again.

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