A huge fan of the current Black Panther series from Marvel is sad to announce that his once-favorite comic-book is not the royal treat it used to be.
By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu
The story, lest we forget, is that after a rebellion took place in Wakanda, the African nation is restructuring. But Black Panther has discovered that the gods of his kingdom, The Orisha, are missing, leaving behind portals from where other-dimensional nasties come through. Now, while this issue is something of a return to form story-wise, from the veritable snooze-fest that was #14, it begins with an action sequence involving the Dora Milaje squaring off against weird gorilla/mountain goat (‘Goatrillas’, anyone?) creatures on a snowy landscape. T’Challa and sister Shuri soon join up, instantly proving that more is indeed merrier — and more caustic — going by the back-and-forth between the king and his former bodyguards.
But the excitement of the well-paced action soon wanes, as the story continues in flashback and talking head territory, sadly revealing itself to have too many plates spinning all at once. The saddest part being that within the chaos, the great potential held by the story is evident, even if it remains through most of the story as just that: potential.
In any case, in an issue addled by overwritten backstories, changing art styles (couldn’t Wilfredo Torres or Adam Gorham drawn the whole issue exclusively?), the very end of this issue proves to be its salvation. Confession: I’m tired of T’Challa and Ororo thrashing out relationship issues across a dozen pages (or so it seems), or their gazillion ‘confrontations’ as well, so I almost dropped the book when it seemed like yet another was threatening to play out.
But as it turns out, a strong, thoughtful Storm’s reconciliation with the situation of the man she loves — who also loves her back — is the very definition of ‘royal’. And T’Challa, in return, proves that he is indeed worthy of Storm’s love. The scene reminded of the reasons why I love both characters, no matter who’s writing them. However, on the other hand, Marvel’s Black Panther book needs to up its game to prove itself worthy to fans, especially loyal ones like myself. It’s far too important a comic-book not to. It can start by checking some boxes, including (but not limited to) massive action set pieces in every issue, a consistent art team, and sheer superhero spectacle.
Starting incredibly strong, the current series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and then-drawn by Brian Stelfreeze, was an instant hit. Critics loved it, and fans embraced it. The masterful art was a perfect fit for the beginnings of a brilliant story, but everything began to slow down towards the end of the ‘One Nation Under Our Feet’ arc. It didn’t help that the art changed, even as the writing seemed to follow suit. Today, this, the current arc titled ‘Avengers Of The New World’, is yet to find its footing three issues in. It needs to, and fast.
Abdulkareem Baba Aminu is the Editor of Daily Trust on Saturday, one of the most influential newspapers in his country, Nigeria. You can follow him on Twitter: @KareemReal