Ta-Nehisi Coates is giving us a Wakanda that we've never seen. Coates is giving us a T'Challa we've never seen. His story-telling methods are unique in its own right, but golly gee it sure is effective.
Wakanda is crumbling from the inside out while T'Challa has lost the trust of not only his people, but possibly himself. There is some damn beautiful internal sequences with Black Panther in action recounting a conversation he had with S'yan the day he became King.
Coates sucks the reader in with this internal struggle/conversation while Brian Stelfreeze puts together some damn fine looking action sequences. It's panels like these that make Coates feel like such a veteran comic writer:
We've got two very different things going on at the same time. T'Challa is recounting this "profound" advice from S'yan while kicking the shit out of some guards to save his people. The inner-dialogue is important and doesn't get lost in the action, and the action doesn't get lost underneath the text.
I don't know if it's teamwork, luck or chance, but it works very well.
Laura Martin, on colors, can't be forgotten either. The last, oh, 3, 4 or 5 pages are so damn important to this issue and the story moving forward. In these pages, Martin plays with the lighting and contrast a lot. I don't mean a lot in the bad way, but a lot in the way that it resonates with you when you sit back and think about this book after setting it down.
It makes the tensity of a situation stick with you. Bravo.
In issue No. 2, we are introduced to The Midnight Angels -- two women leading the citizens against the Wakandan hierarchy. This part of the story is where Stelfreeze shines bright.
Panther fights off some guards to free his prisoners. Except, these prisoners aren't too pumped about it. There is no text telling us they feel this way, but their eyes.
T'Challa says to these prisoners "Your king will provide for you" and all we see are two children gripping an older woman as they cast a shit ton of shade the Panther's way. This comes after the inner-conversation T'Challa has with himself, in which he is basically battling how much power a king should use and when he should use it.
Watching him try and figure the balance between Black Panther and King all while the people of his nation revolt against him is so damn gripping that some might call it a white-knuckler.
It's a damn fine story with a perfect mix of action, talky scenes, mystery and intrigue. Coates has said he was hoping to set up the rest of the series by putting so many pieces into play at once.
It's been interesting to see the MacArthur Genius and National Book Award winner enter the comic book world and build his world around T'Challa and not through him.
Rating: 8.5/10 We're only scratching the surface of Ta-Nehisi Coates' Wakanda, but it's been extremely satisfying to see him build his world around T'Challa and not just through him. A lot of pieces are in play, and it feels like Coates is about to take us on a hell of a journey. Artist Brian Stelfreeze deserves a lot of the credit by accomplishing the task of showing us so much with each passing panel.