There was quite the buzz when Marvel confirmed that Black Panther was going to be getting his own solo movie, and just as much when viewers finally got a glimpse of the character, as played by Chadwick Boseman, in the “Captain America: Civil War” trailers. Now it is finally time to see T’Challa taking the lead in his new solo comic series.
Aside from the joy of finally seeing this character really get his time in the limelight, a major draw of this series is writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates has never written a comic book before, but many may know his work as a correspondent for The Atlantic as well as his recent National Book Award winning book "Between the World and Me," which is, frankly, required reading.
And if Coates is going to have any trouble transferring his emotive and poetic prose to the comic script, then there is no indication of that in Black Panther #1. T’Challa’s inner thoughts are weaved into the panels, and despite the brevity of each thought, Coates has managed to retain the poetry in his words, augment it even. As for storytelling, in the first issue Coates sets up the state of Wakanda with little exposition. The combination of Coates’ decision to take the reader through multiple parts of Wakanda, exploring how the conflict has exploded in multiple areas, and Brian Stelfreeze’s fully realized world gives the reader the immediate sense of a nation with a distinct culture and a longstanding history.
It’s that weight that helps those of us who don’t have a great knowledge of the Black Panther mythos keep up, though there may still be confusion as to how some strands of the story tie together. But that’s to be expected since this is only the first issue. It will only be with more issues that we’ll see if everything Coates has set up comes together.
And there’s great incentive to pick up the next issue, as Coates has started to weave a tale of a nation in crisis and a monarch, T’Challa, struggling to deal with it. In that regard, Black Panther isn’t going to be strictly speaking a superhero comic, at least not for this arc, but rather it represents how the superhero genre is slowly but surely diversifying, not just in story, but in who is represented.
It’s been a number of years since Black Panther had an ongoing solo comic and this seems like as good a time as any for there to be a new one. With a sure surge of new fans as he makes his MCU debut and a capable writer behind the wheel of his comic, this will no doubt be a great year for Black Panther.