Black Panther #1
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
Colorist: Laura Martin
Cover: Brian Stelfreeze & Laura Martin
First, let’s go ahead and admit that 2016 is the Year of the Panther! From his resurgence as a viable presence in the Marvel Universe over the past couple of years to his upcoming live action debut in Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa is who everyone is talking about. However, the most important announcement was that of a new solo title for the legendary character. Since that day fans have been eagerly waiting to see what Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze would bring to Wakanda’s King and if expectations would be met. Well, believe all of the hype because this first issue is deserving of it all and then some.
The story opens with a bleeding and humbled T’Challa in the midst of stopping an inner conflict between his people. This death and violence was brought about by an outside force but it’s revealed deeper issues and forces T’Challa to come to terms what has been happening to his country and it’s people since “Doomwar“. Not only is this new enemy emerging but there is dissent from the one group who have had an unwavering loyalty to the throne throughout its history, the Dora Milaje.
The precise amount of world building and characterization here is perfect for anyone that is new to the world of Black Panther. Not only do we get a T’Challa worth reading about but a more than exceptional supporting cast to back him up. The dialogue is some of the finest and in it you can see that Coates has done his research and applied it well in this issue. Some of the best takes place during the trial where Romanda is about to pass judgment. Her exchange with the Dora Milaje reveals a keen eye and wisdom much like that of any mother who sees past her child’s thinly veiled attempts.
Sometimes it’s unfair for me to speak about the artwork of Stelfreeze since his style has been a favorite for some time. It was no surprise that he would carry the visuals with the intensity and detail necessary to move Coates’ narrative but this far exceeded expectations. With his line work and Laura Martin’s colors this is one of the best looking issues on shelves this week. Those of you who have knowledge of Black Panther’s history will quickly notice that Stelfreeze has a nod to Jack Kirby in this latest costume design. The suit itself has a sleek yet tech look at we see the mask digitally appear over T’Challa’s face instead of a cloth mask he pulls on and off. The effect itself is a bit Kirby-ish and is even illustrated on the Midnight Angel armor. Also the wings of the Midnight Angel suits definitely resemble Falcon’s old wings that were gifted to him from T’Challa. Another visual nod to the consistency of Wakanda’s tech and history in the comics. Stelfreeze also maintains the fine detail needed to bring Wakanda itself to life. Always keeping the balance between the scientific advancements in the city and the traditional look of of it’s people. I even liked T’Challa’s edge up in the back which forms a ‘W’. Not sure if it was intentional but it works.
There’s no need to be on the fence regarding this title. The entire creative team has made Black Panther the comic to read this week and actually boasts some of the best variant covers Marvel has put together in a while. So head out and pick this one up!