Black Panther # 1 is a fresh start for one of Marvel’s most beloved characters. The title character is back from his adventures in space and finds a world of responsibility, both in Wakanda and with the Avengers, at his feet. It is good? Is it great Is it a disappointment or a step backwards?
Well … it’s complicated.
Who makes Black Panther # 1?
The author John Ridley (screenwriter of the masterful 12 years a slave; Writer of the ambitious The other story of the DC Universe and the more banal I am Batman) begins a new era for both the comic and the character. Juann Cabal (Guardian of the Galaxy) has artistic duties, Federico Blee takes care of the colors.
What is Black Panther # 1 about?
T’Challa leads the Avengers to victory against generic mindless villains ™ ️, but Captain America confronts him. The Avengers need guidance consequent, and T’Challa, as King on earth and Emperor in the stars, is not always consistent.
(Have any Avengers have always been consistent? Does anyone ask the hammerless Thor or the dead Dr. Strange? Questions that need answers.)
And the whole Kaiser / King thing? That doesn’t work so well either.
During Coates’ run, Wakanda became a democracy, with the Black Panther serving as a figurehead and protector, but no longer an undisputed leader. Politically marginalized and frustrated by the mundane details of the legislation, T’Challa apologizes from political trials only to be confronted and comforted by a soldier. This mercenary tells T’Challa that the people want appearance Responsibility, but ultimately longs for a strong savior. T’Challa thanks him for “lyrically expressing what I feel”.
The story ends with T’Challa confiding in Shuri that someone broke an ancient state secret of his and its effects could wreak havoc across the kingdom.
Why is this book now available?
Given Black Panther’s remarkable success in the media, Marvel could afford to ditch one of its most beloved characters on the sidelines (especially with a movie slated – very tentatively – for next year) away to other endeavors To pursue, Marvel had to make sure that its popular franchise continued to be prominent.
Is there any required reading?
Frustrating, no. Sure, it would be helpful to be familiar with the Black Panther stories of the past 5 years, when T’Challa lost the faith of his people, regained it by creating a democracy, went into space to meet some time-shifted Wakanda astronauts locate, and returned the owner of an intergalactic empire, which he freed from the descendants of these lost space explorers. But there is only a cursory reference to empire and the nature of democracy is explained in a panel. This is a book that may do better if you do not read what came before.
Which, frankly, is a problem.
Is Black Panther # 1 Good?
Black Panther is more than one Comic; The black panther is a character. And while the comic is fine, I’m deeply disappointed in the character. Nothing here is bad – a lot is actually pretty good – but nothing is particularly memorable. nothing Sticks with you.
Coates’ T’Challa, anything but a boastful daredevil, was guilty, thoughtful, cerebrally … frightened. He gave in to those smarter than him, many of whom were female (Romonda, Shuri, Storm, even the manifestation of the goddess Bast).
To see T’Challa as disrespectful to a woman in power; to see him adopt a militaristic ideology slamming in the face of the democracy he voluntarily created; to see him act one-sided, inconsideratewhen we’ve seen him accomplish so much more with others – it’s annoying and frustrating. Yet for some, perhaps many, what I call frustration might be preferable.
T’Challa here is more in line with earlier characterizations of Christopher Priest and Reginald Hudlin, a return to character for a man who, in the middle of a fight, annulled a marriage and volunteered to join a group called the Illuminati. But seeing how Coates’ characterization was so unceremoniously rolled back made me pause.
This is only one topic, of course, and there is still a lot to talk about. Black Panther # 1 is an effective, efficient romp that is well worth your time. You should read it. You may like it in places that I don’t like it. And that’s fine. Black Panther No. 1, like all good art, is complicated.
A panel that has burst
The final panel, with the premonition of all that is to come, is both artistically well done and a premonition of all that it implies.