Comic Book Review - Black Panther #1

Comic Book Review – Black Panther #1

Creative Team:

  • Writer:  Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Art:  Brian Stelfreeze
  • Colors:  Laura Martin
  • Letters:  Joe Sabino

Over the years with my sporadic obsession with comics, I mostly missed comics featuring Black Panther.  It was the same way with a lot of important characters – I think they only exposure to Hank Pym was in his ‘Dr. Pym’ days with the West Coast Avengers.  I became a big fan of T’Challa via the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon, and have sought out comics he’s been in since then.  He had one of the better arcs during the whole Time Runs Out/Secret Wars thing with Doom and Namor, for instance.  So I was interested from the start when I heard about a new series, but when I saw Ta-Nehisi Coates was writing?  HAD to be a day one purchase.

Coates is National Correspondent for The Atlantic, an author with multiple awards, a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.  But before all that, he was a comic book fan, and was excited to take on T’Challa’s new series.  I don’t want to spoil it, but if his literary credentials give you pause, don’t worry – this is a comic book story through and through, but with the added depth of someone who’s thought long and hard about topics of race and belonging.  But who better to flesh out and update a character that was created in the 60s by white men?  Issue 1 features a main story that picks up threads from recent Panther history, including Dr. Doom and Namor both attacking Wakanda, and a populace that begins to doubt their returned King (after the death of Shuri, his sister who had been ruling), along with an external threat capable of fanning those doubts and fears into hatred and chaos.

No comic is complete without great artists, and that’s no different here.  Brian Stelfreeze (with Laura Martin’s colors) has not just tweaked T’Challa’s look but has created a coherent design across all of Wakanda.  Real life African influences are combined with the fantastic and it sings.  I like that they did away with the cape and some of the extra bits that have come and gone on BP’s costume over time and now have a clean, muscled, panther-like look.

There’s a lot of story threads started here, but I have a feeling Coates and company will be able to balance them effectively.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.