Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates / Artist: Leonard Kirk / Marvel Comics
To say Black Panther is on a roll is like saying the Golden State Warriors can hold their own. This is a fantastic comic that manages to unravel what we think we know of this long-standing character’s world while building it back up into something richer and more intellectually stimulating than it’s ever been. Ta-Nehisi Coates is masterfully elevating the Panther to the marquee status he has always deserved and we love him for it.
Issue #167 has puts a couple of things into play narrative wise. First, there’s a new ally being brought into the fold to offer some insight into the new threat being posed by T’Challa’s old foe, Klaw. We didn’t get as much of this plotline as I would have liked but what we did get was on point. I love the idea of our hero offering a long standing C-list character an opportunity to matter more than he has in the past considering this book is making the Black Panther matter more than he has in years. The other storyline has Shuri and T’Challa delving further into Wakandan lore to find new answers to the solve the problem of these mysterious new “gods”.
Coates is doing an amazing job of testing the Panther by calling into question all he knows to be true about his heritage and the history of his people. Building your character’s mythology by undoing it seems like it’s been Coates’ game from the start and it’s still working for him. Leonard Kirk’s artwork is fantastic in that it maintains the current aesthetic laid out by previous artists. The opening panels are tense and dramatic as if we were watching the opening credits of an HBO series. The color palette and clean paneling with clear coherent intent adds gravitas to Coates’ already heady script.
Bottom Line: Coates has big plans for Black Panther and those plans are starting to come into focus thanks to a smart script and top notch artwork. This is the kind of afrofuturist mythos the character needs this close to his first film: All New All Different Wakanda 101.
Reading Black Panther? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.