Ta-Nehisi Coates has rarely been afraid to take changes with his Black Panther run. With the new ‘season’ kick started in Black Panther #1, Coates once again manages to subvert expectations on what to expect from a Black Panther comic.
Coates has worked hard to create a legacy on his run from introducing new characters, regions and ideas. His latest, The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, might be his most inspired. A Wakandan outpost took to the stars and challenged the conventional notion of sticking to established borders. This group has expanded to a galactic empire and ironically established a colonial system complete with a slave class. The slaves have had their minds wiped to be more easily controlled.
It’s in this class that T’Challa awakens with one brief memory of Storm to hold onto. The rest of his mind is a blank slate save for the fighting instincts he’s honed over the years. Coates sets up an intriguing mystery as to how Black Panther arrived in this situation, why a rebellion force is dressed in his likeness and even what time frame this story is occurring.
Of all the questions the latter is probably the most important. With Black Panther operating as a key cog in The Avengers, some idea of the context of Black Panther #1 would have been helpful.
Daniel Acuna’s art continues to be amazing. He has one of the most distinct styles in comics these days and every page looks outstanding. It’s impressive how much Acuna packs into each issue all while sticking to a consistent reliable schedule. The Coates and Acuna tandem is an exciting one and could go down as one of the best on Black Panther when their run is completed.
The one early continuity hurdle is how this intergalactic empire was never discovered/mentioned earlier. I really like this idea, but it’s tough to fully buy in that the Kree, Skrull, Shi’ar, etc. never encountered the Wakandan Empire. And from another perspective, why the empire never addressed long-term issues like Galactus or aided in the Annihilation conflict?
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This is such a fascinating concept, but failing to address those continuity questions could dilute some of its impact. One of the defining elements is that sense of connectivity throughout the Marvel Universe. Hopefully Coates has some ideas in mind to explain how an empire stayed in the shadows as its a key aspect of the arc.
Black Panther #1 takes T’Challa on a fantastic galactic voyage and this is already shaping up to be one of Marvel’s most promising titles of 2018.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Marvel Comics