Choosing 5 reasons why you love anything can’t be easy, but ‘Black Panther: Long Live The King’ practically gives a royal edict to that effect.
By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu @kareemreal
Marvel’s digital-only ‘Black Panther: Long Live The King’ debuted recently, and it’s a stunning book to behold. A read through the first issue left us slack-jawed, and feverishly awaiting the next issue on Comixology. Before then, however, here are a few reasons why the comic, written by Afrofuturist Nnedi Okorafor, is a regal treat.
- The Art
Drawn by André Lima Araújo, whose work includes ‘Generation Gone’ (Image) with Ales Kot et al, the sheer gorgeousness of the line work is worth the price of admission. Looking like what one would get if you tossed Gary Frank, Frank Quitely and Moebius (yes, Moebius) into a blender, it still manages to be its own thing, with its own look and feel. The characters all feel alive, and well fleshed-out, even some in seemingly supporting roles.
The artist’s inventiveness gives us a Wakanda that not only feels true to what’s come before, but a direction which feels fresh and, well, inventive. This, people, is one artist to watch. And to those who make the decisions, please always pair him up with colorist Chris O’Halloran: Together they make magic.
- T’Challa’s Choice Of Reading Material
I did a classic double take when, at the end of the issue, I saw that on the sofa where the king was chilling, sat a copy of ‘You Must Set Forth At Dawn’ by the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, the first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. That just blew my mind.
I mean, Soyinka is only one of the greatest writers alive, and T’Challa was reading what is widely agreed to be the author’s magnum opus. It was a perfect merging of the world of geeks and that of world literature
- Wakanda Expanding
In the pages of the comic-book, via great writing and masterful art, we get to see the nation of Wakanda expand. There’s so much of it in one single issue, that multiple rereads were necessary to take it all in.
Whether it’s an intriguing-sounding ‘Mute Zone, or ‘T’Challa’s apartment, cars on the street, or even the hospital at Birnin Zana, there is visual treat after visual treat that continue to layer on what we know about the Black Panther’s kingdom so far.
- T’Challa ‘Goes Analog’
An element of the story has Vibranium, the alien metal that sees Wakanda becoming the most technologically advanced nation on earth, going haywire, causing blackouts, mutations and general chaos in the land. Of course, it’s no spoiler to say that our hero-king’s costume is enhanced with Vibranium, meaning it won’t work anymore. He dumps it for an old fashioned low-tech version, actually the classic one from the Kirby days. That throwback threw me back, and in a warm, nostalgic way. It’s a nice, nice touch.
- Wild, Wild Writing
Okorafor is a brilliant writer with tons of books published, including the famous Binti trilogy, and the HBO-acquired ‘Who Fears Death’, among other stellar stuff. While her first Marvel job was a bit ho-hum, with this it’s obvious she was powering up for the Kirby-cracklin’ ‘Long Live The King’. Oh, my, she totally gets the character of T’Challa, his supporting cast, and the world they inhabit, and pat.
This is the Black Panther story we’ve been waiting for. From the plot, to the dialogue and even the pacing, it is clear that this is going to be the character’s new go-to title, but unfortunately, only for digital consumers. I say ‘unfortunately’ because our 5 reason aside, this is already looking to me like the best Black Panther book on the shelves. Or on hard drives. You know what we mean.
But Marvel’s not dumb, and I’m sure there will be a trade paperback collecting the series, as soon as it is done and dusted. Now, did I hear that ‘Long Live The King’ will be out twice a week? Long live the king!