Review: Black Panther #1
Black Panther has been one of the more highly anticipated books in Marvel’s latest relaunch initiative. The character is poised for superstardom with the upcoming release of the Captain America: Civil War movie, so it only made sense for Marvel to put a topflight creative team on the book. Enter Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze. With the demand for the character at arguably an all-time high, could the creative team deliver? I believe they did.
Now, detailed analysis or nuanced criticism had never been my strong suit. I’ve never been particularly smart, talented, or perceptive. Because of this, I tend to avoid doing reviews for new releases as much as possible. Here in our little corner of the internet, I tend to just point at the stuff I like and grunt “me like,” or something to that degree. Yet, I’ll do the best that my feeble abilities will allow me to do.
Coates may be new to the business of writing comics, but I never would have been able to tell the difference if I hadn’t known. He displayed a definite knowledge of the history of the character and his supporting cast. I’ve only gotten into Black Panther myself within the past few years, but he expertly weaves in elements of past stories, while setting up something new. That new story playing off something that has worked very well in the past, the conflict that lies at the heart of Wakanda.
The location of Wakanda is rife with storytelling opportunities. It’s the most technologically advanced place on the planet, but many of its citizens also adhere to ancient traditions and laws. Story comes from conflict, and there is possibly no greater conflict than the contradictions between science and (for lack of a better term) faith. That is represented in the character of Black Panther himself, one of the most intelligent and technologically savvy individuals on the planet, but a man that received his title and physical abilities through an ancient tradition.
Now, a violent terrorist group has attacked the citizens of Wakanda, and T’Challa must find a way to quell this uprising and restore the faith of his people in him as a ruler. The shocking last page will leave you waiting for more.
I met Stelfreeze at a convention a few years ago, and he couldn’t have been a nicer person. He absolutely nailed the artwork in this book. It looks gorgeous. His Black Panther is lean and powerful, and as he says in the back-up material, I love that he prefers a more streamlined design for the character. T’Challa doesn’t need a lot of accouterments, his costume has always been best when it’s kept simple.
Overall, this was a very promising start to what will hopefully be a landmark run on the character. I can’t wait to read what’s next.