Since the relaunch of Black Panther several months ago we’ve followed the odyssey of an amnesiac T’Challa as he fought an evil empire to restore his memories as well as restoring freedom to those oppressed. So far we’ve only gotten hints at the central villain, the Emperor N’Jadaka, but that changes this issue.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is joined this issue by Jen Bartel, Triona Farrell, and Joe Sabino. The team takes a deep dive into the cipher of a villain we’ve seen so far, and comes out the other side with something scary.
The last we saw N’Jadaka he was standing in front of the goddess Bast. N’Jadaka knows that T’Challa is her chosen champion, and he demands answers from her. As we learn about his ascension in flashback, the two battle, and just when Bast appears to have gained the upper hand, the Emperor emerges the victor…
This story has been so much slow burn, but it’s absolutely captivating in this issue. It’s an impressive feat for Coates to craft such a scary villain in the course of a single issue. Though he’s still not a fully rounded character, N’Jadaka is now fully an interesting villain and not just a whispered about presence.
Bartel and Farrell’s work is great. It evokes the mythological feel of The Wicked + The Divine or Bartel’s own Blackbird to great effect. It really elevates the story from a simple origin story to something epic.
Though this isn’t the most fast-paced issue you’ll read, it’s important to the overall story and adds an interesting new antagonist to Black Panther lore.
Black Panther #6 is available now from Marvel Comics.