Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates / Artist: Chris Sprouse / Marvel Comics
Following the voluntary capture of T’Challa in the previous issue we finally get to see The Crew in action, which has been teased for weeks now. The ensuing conflict and T’Challa’s “rescue” don’t disappoint, even if it felt brief overall. While the register of speech and language used by Coates has been a focal point for the book and critics of the book, he does a good job of giving the members of the crew their own distinct and identifiable voice. In comic books, banter during an action scene and make or break your investment in it, but seeing Misty and Luke Cage crack jokes at each other is worth the price of admission.
The reunion of The Crew is but one third of a book that includes much more forward action, but seems to be laying the groundwork for the next big movement. Changamire, the scholar and one-time love interest of T’Challa’s stepmother, finally meets with his apprentice Tetu and Zenzi. We are given his journey as a favorite son of Wakanda to one of its harshest critics over the years and a show of the seeds he planted now growing vines around the nation he once loved. It’s an excellent study in protest and revolution, one that feels like an allegory to the chatter of the Black Lives Matter movement and the oft critique of older Civil Rights Leaders. The questioning of means, the imperfect result of tactics meant for the current struggle all feel very familiar in our current climate of protest and demands upon the State. Shuri’s journey is the slowest, by intention, as she is still learning what Wakanda has lost before she rejoins it on the living plane. While this story has felt like the back burner of the very real conflict happening among the living, one can’t help but think that all of T’Challa’s challenges may pale in comparison to whatever lessons that Shuri has learned when they are forced to confront each other again.
On this arc, Sprouse continues to do a wonderful job with the characterizations and settings for these characters. The people of Wakanda are still regal and carry great stature, but he also takes such care with the beloved characters of The Crew, staying true to the setting of Wakanda, but also making them very familiar and vibrant.
A little bit slower plotting this time around and a fun reunion colors this issue. Black Panther is still building upon the movements of the seen and unseen threats to Wakanda, but it looks like at least T’Challa has some back-up.
Reading Black Panther? Catch up on other reviews of the series here.