Black Panther #3 Builds Legends Out Of Kings And Heroes

by Tony Thornley

The worst thing about comics today is when a good book gets hit by a delay. It’s a fact of the industry but it always hurts a little, especially with a book as good as the latest volume of Black Panther. This issue proves to be worth the wait, though.

Honestly, the earlier part of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther run didn’t thrill me. It was one of those comics that you know is good but wasn’t your thing. This latest volume completely changed that for me. It’s like Coates found his stride and everything clicked. I definitely think teaming up with artist Daniel Acuna was a big part of that.

This issue advances the story of the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, answering some questions, while leaving others vague. Watch out, spoilers ahead!

In a prelude, N’Yami and Nakia talk about the legend of T’Challa. N’Yami also makes a bold declaration- their T’Challa is THE T’Challa of legend. The hows and whats are glossed over, an answer for another day, but the readers get a clear declaration about this mystery – this is somehow OUR T’Challa. And I guess that means the other questions we have will be answered soon.

Later, the Maroons are attacked by the Empire. T’Challa is able to react moments before the invasion begins, but soon they base is overwhelmed. The rebels scramble to fight, but are overwhelmed by a villainous superhuman from the Empire…

If I had ONE complaint here, its that this issue is over too soon. It’s an exciting issue. It answers questions. It begins to explore the characters more deeply. It seeds future plots. Then the action starts, ramps up… and ends on a cliffhanger.

That’s actually a good thing. It shows how exciting and fun this issue is. Another important point – we continue to see that this amnesiac T’Challa truly is the hero we know and love in more and more ways. It has helped establish an immediacy to the story that I think it needed.

Coates also throws in a Chekov’s gun in regards to T’Challa’s memories. It’s a great seed that makes it clear that things aren’t going to be all magicked away at the end. Coates has a plan, and it adds a lot to the story.

This issue also looks amazing. Acuna was an artist that took a long time for me to warm to. His style was just so strange to me at first. I’ve since come to love his work. He’s able to render the fantastic in a way that seems very real, and his work has a great tactile feel. His colors are also so great. The opening scene and the later battle both play with light and shadow, and it really makes the story better for it.

Joe Sabino’s letter work is a big part of making this issue work as well. He takes the landscapes and action, and plays with his captions and balloons to fit. It almost makes the “sound” come to the reader in stereo. It’s a very cool effect.

This volume of Black Panther is going to go down as one of the greats in the character’s history. You should check it out today!

Black Panther #3 is available now from Marvel Comics.

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