Black Panther #2 – Review
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher Marvel Comics
Who would have thought? Black Panther has fanboys now. With all this attention that this 50 year old character is now getting overnight, Issue #1 of “Black Panther” pretty much flew off the shelves. Every TV show runner knows that it’s the episode AFTER the pilot that is most important. So how does issue #2 hold up as a follow up story?
“A Nation Under Our Feet part 2” has T’Challa learns from his Council that his new enemy Zenzi is a byproduct of his old enemy Killmonger. Using Wakandan technology, he’s able to track her soul to the edge of the Wakandan/Nigandan border. Against the wishes of his Council, T’Challa goes alone to confront Zenzi, seeing he’s the only one with defenses against her seemingly psychic abilities. How will Black Panther defend himself when he finds out her powers aren’t psychic? Meanwhile, the two rogue Dora Milaje aka the Midnight Angels reveal their next plan. How will it affect Black Panther? How will it affect Wakanda?
This issue was a VAST improvement over the last issue. Black Panther is actually the star of this issue, and we get to learn more about him as a character while also getting some great action. As accomplished as Ta-Nehisi Coates is, he’s still not your typical comic writer. Sometimes his writing feels like a disconnect with the action on the panel, as if artist Brian Stelfreeze is pretty much creating the panels anyway he sees fit while Coates discusses philosophy that may or may not tie into the action at hand. Luckily Stelfreeze directs panels so fluidly that you can read the action from panel to panel without reading a single word bubble. Although narration wise Coates is all over the place, T’Challa’s inner monologue is fascinating. The story T’Challa tells about his uncle was extremely interesting, and helps explain T’Challa thoughts on his kingly duties. I’ll even give him even more credit for fleshing out Wakanda. It feels like a real city, similar to how Scott Snyder writes Gotham in his New 52 Batman run. Coates is without a doubt a great writer, but I’m just still on the fence of him as a storyteller.
The Midnight Angels section was shorter this time around, but might have been the standout portion of the book. They’re pretty cool looking as well. I’m actually anticipating their eventual confrontation with T’Challa, and what’s fascinating is that you really don’t know if they will be allies or his enemies. Either way they’re definitely a welcomed addition to the Black Panther mythos.
Once again the book further pushes Coates political agenda, but with a book called Black Panther that’s almost impossible not to. I relate it to Washington DC. Yes, our nation’s Capital is a great city, but if you go just a little too far down the street you’ll see why Washington D.C. is one of the most crime ridden cities in the country. That’s how I relate the Golden Palace in Wakanda, the 1% versus the 99%. Classism is a very strong theme in both books so far, and I’m waiting to see how the King of this nation will deal with this problem when it comes to a head.
This book does plant seeds for a better story down the road, and even on it’s own its very entertaining. There’s even some closure to the Zenzi confrontation. It does end on a very weird cliffhanger, but an interesting twist makes T’Challa questions his actions. The story is gaining momentum, so I recommend picking it up now to keep up with the current arc.