Comic Review: Black Panther #4

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates caps off his first arc into comic books with an emotional look at T'Challa as he leads a nation, which isn't as clean-cut and perfect as it is typically perceived to be. 

Through the first three issues, Wakanda was shown in a rare light. It was weak, split and nearly reduced to rubble as more and more questioned the king and the nation's foundation. This has been a slow-burn to get to where we currently are, and we're starting to see pieces come together. 

Seriously, this was the end of the arc and the most aggressive thing the Black Panther did was drag its claws into a table during a meeting. 

He is telling a story that will feel unfamiliar to most comic readers. He's painting an entire world here, he is building his own universe for a long-run and not in a way where it could all fizzle out in 15 issues. 

When we get to know a character, we get to know a character. Their past, emotional tendencies and how they feel about the current conundrum. 

This is done best in Issue 4 with the introduction of Changamire, who was the former philosophical tutor of Ramonda. We are introduced this character who simply may know who was behind the mind control of Wakandian soldiers. 

Coates and artist Brian Stelfreeze introduce this character to us with a combination of brief flashbacks, history lessons and beautiful sit-down lunch between Ramonda and T'Challa. 

The thing that makes Coates special is his ability to segue into a motherly lesson all while introducing a new character. 

What's missing in action is made up in the way of soul-searching, hard-hitting and far-reaching dialogue between a battered king at the helm of a nation close to revolt from his wise, time-tested queen of a mother. 

You have never given willingly. You feel the weight of the crown, but you have never felt the great honor of being king. Your people are a burden to you, and you have never let them forget this.

You say you have given it all. You are wrong. You have never truly given yourself to your country.
— Ramonda

Between great dialogue and intimate moments, are a thinking man-or-woman's dream read. Coates paints a story of war, peace, philosophy and heritage all crammed into one combustible ball. 

As for Stelfreeze, his fantastic character and scene-sitting work continues. For an issue where there are no legitimate action scenes, Stelfreeze keeps everything moving with an insane level of attention to detail. 

Stelfreeze will return to Black Panther in the third arc as Chris Sprouse and Karl Story will take over starting with issue No. 5. 

Our characters dish on some emotional, intense topics and the art keeps right up with it. It's hard to maintain this level of consistency when all you have to deal with are extravagant lunches and board meetings, but there is not one instance where the art fails to successfully accompany the strong storytelling. 

Rating: 8/10 I'm sure a bunch of readers are clamoring for some more action, but I urge you to hang on. We're done with the first arc of Coates' Black Panther, and we're heading down a revolutionary road.