Writer: Ta-Nahesi Coates / Artist: Leonard Kirk / Marvel Comics
The past few issues of Black Panther have been raising the tension until it’s thick enough to cut with an action-packed Issue #170 sees some action-packed payoff to the slow burn. T’Challa and Co. end up forced to take the fight to Ras the Exhorter and the Originators. Coates has truly found his feet in giving the audience some action and some light comic philosophy. The action beats overlap well with a couple of his own homemade characters playing Dueling Ideologies. The exposition never slows the action down and, in fact, adds flavor and tension to the whole thing as it all ends in a moment that opens up a new obstacle that has some fun possibilities going forward.
I’m of the mind that there are two kinds of stories: the ones that ask questions and the ones that answer them. Coates has elected to write the comic that asks big questions and leaves the answers up to the audience to conjure on their own. He writes a comic that trusts its reader enough to keep up with the pace he establishes. Leonard Kirk is an incredibly underrated talent to have on board for this book.
He tries to not break from the overall aesthetic laid out by other regularly rotated Black Panther artists but there’s something that’s so blatantly his own in the shading and linework. He clearly feels right at home with this color palette, never allowing anything to feel plain or “just there” for the hell of it. There’s a couple of pages where it should be easy to get lost in the action beats and lose track of characters but Kirk’s artwork never falls prey to that.
Bottom Line: You’ll be hard pressed to be better layered, nuanced afrofuturism in mainstream comic than the sprawling epic Coates has laid out here. This issue is probably one of the best balancing acts he’s pulled so far between action and exposition. If you enjoyed the movie, there’s no reason you wouldn’t enjoy this book.
Reading Black Panther? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.