Having debuted over 50 years ago in the pages of the Fantastic Four, the Black Panther has a long and rich history. Will this new comic series from acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and veteran superstar artist Brian Stelfreeze, Marvel seeks to honor the rich history of the character while taking him in a new direction. Will this comic live up to the expectations of fans while priming the pump for the characters debut in next month’s Captain America Civil War film?
The answer to both of those questions is a solid and resounding yes! There are some issues with the pacing of the comic but it is after all a debut issue, meant to simultaneously catch you up to speed on what has happened to the character in the recent past while laying the ground work for what is to come.
Opening in the midst of a full on revolt at the vibranium mines, we see a T’Challa who has recently been restored to the throne and it would seem his throne is on shaky ground due to a ground swell of anger and resentment. This Black Panther will have to conquer this internal unrest while dealing with the outsiders who have seemingly instigated it. Coates does a great job with the pacing of the book and gives the characters both old and new that we meet in this issue time to develop. While the development is only surface we do get enough time with each to establish where they are and what their motivations are. This is demonstrated perfectly in the trial of the two star crossed lovers, who served in the elite royal guard. These two women are both represented as passionate and with an established view point rooted in the Wakandan past, while recognizing that it is tough to live up to those standards when they are at odds with their government.
Brian Stelfreeze is a name that should be familiar to comics fans as the artist has a long and storied career in comics. Here his characters are represented with grace and fluidity that is contrasted simultaneously with the heavy blacks he’s chosen to employ. His design of the technology in Wakanda is futuristic, alien and yet some how believably different from what we are accustomed to seeing. This Wakanda is truly a futuristic paradise but one that seems on the verge of exploding.
The colors by Laura Martin, one of my all time favorite colorist, are vibrant and pop with a flair that gives them a unique look. This book in it coloring is familiar yet different from anything you’ve seen so far Letter Joe Sabino does a good job as his letters are dramatic when they need to be and work perfectly with the art.
Overall this issue may have been paced a little slow but that could be a function of this being Coates’ first comicbook work as a writer. You can tell that he is a fan of the character but not so much that he isn’t willing to take risks with the character as the last page reveal brings up questions about what exactly he is planning to do going forward.
Review | Black Pathner #1: A Nation Beneath Our Feet
Having debuted over 50 years ago in the pages of the Fantastic Four, the Black Panther has a long and rich history. This comics honors that history both distant and recent while pointing to a bold new direction with the character. This series is off to a great start.