Black Panther #2
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
Colorist: Laura Martin
Cover: Brian Stelfreeze & Laura Martin
There’s layers to this and Coates is determined to give us more than your standard superhero set up in the latest Black Panther series. He’s deconstructing T’Challa but in a way that doesn’t strip him of what makes him a superhero but reveals the cracks in his status as King and his ability to rule effectively. Coates has magnified this with the introduction of Zenzi who has effectively began to turn the people against their King, albeit using powers to win their hearts and minds. Coates has delivered a smart foe who knows how to come at an opponent like T’Challa with and without her abilities. Successfully setting him up and then allowing his actions to further damage his reputation. There is a nice amount of action though mostly handled by the Dora Milaje, Aneka and Ayo. They’re attempting to save Wakanda though it’s in contrast what they know T’Challa would do but they have lost faith in him. This is an area where it’s confusing because their escape last issue was a big deal and resulted in stolen Midnight Angels tech along with plenty of destruction. However, Coates doesn’t have T’Challa or anyone in his inner circle address this. The Dora Milaje have a prominent role and to have one go against Wakandan law and defy the King seems like something that would be dealt with promptly. When seeing how T’Challa reacts to Shuri’s predicament more of his humanity seems to come through. He’s a warrior, a King, but also he’s just a big brother worried about is little sister and feeling helpless even with all the resources of his kingdom and his vast intelligence.
Stelfreeze and Martin continue providing strong visuals and moving Coates’ narrative along at a nice pace. Stelfeeze brings the emotional punch to those talking head sequences along with throwing in some very cool Wakadan tech. There’s a seemless integration of their surroundings and the tech and he continues to show that balance in the use and designs. The rescue mission by Ayo and Aneka is a nice mix of emotion and violence with some exciting fight choreography thrown in. When he and Martin take us inside of T’Challa’s mind it’s another unique visual shift showing off their interpretation of the astral plane.
The contrasting ideologies and actions by the characters is one of the best parts so far because not one of them sees themselves as the villain. Each one’s motivations is due to their love for Wakanda though Ayo and Aneka also are in it for their love of each other as well. The creative team on Black Panther is giving us some new territory to explore and it’s exceeding expectations!