Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates / Artist: Chris Sprouse / Marvel Comics
Ta-Nehisi Coates is working wonders with his run on Black Panther. This is the type of well layered, nuanced storytelling fans of the character have always deserved. Coates’ book doesn’t just bring dimensions to the character, but his entire world. It’s as if he’s taken Wakanda and all of its politics from standard definition to 4K graphics.
Issue #16 continues the “Avengers of the New World” storyline with T’Challa putting out political fires tied to the rise of new, mysterious gods and old villains. The overall advancement of the storyline was well executed. The action combined with T’Challa’s detective work was satisfying enough. However, the real spotlight was on Coates bringing new dimensions to characters we never really knew had any to explore. I mean….who would have ever dreamed that we’d give a damn about Thunderball? And my gawd, who expected the Fenris twins to be so insanely racist?
Anyway, the great thing is that this issue reflects what makes T’Challa such a wonderful hero to people of color and it’s about more than just before formidable in a fight or being smart. After all, there are probably few people that could realize the potential of intelligence plus character better than the guy who wrote Between the World and Me. Chris Sprouse is pretty much the perfect visual successor to Brian Stelfreeze. His vivid color palette mixed with his expressive faces and excellent use of effects to highlight Panther tech makes for a visually dazzling read.
Bottom Line: Coates is definitely on the right path laying out a richer mythology for a character that’s finally seeing some much deserved marquee treatment, but even more than that, his tenure is doing right by so many underused, underappreciated characters of color. Black Panther has always been the hero we deserve, but lately, so is Coates.
Reading Black Panther? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.