As more pieces of the assassination-filled puzzle are revealed, Black Panther and his allies find themselves being pulled deeper into a web of deceit partially of their own making. Framing a Black Panther series as a spy and political thriller is a great move and breathes some very different life into the character and his world.
There comes a point where paranoia and secret-keeping, playing deep in the unseen shadows, will come back to haunt a person as others turn that paranoia right back on them. T’Challa has definitely reached that point.
What began as a quest to discover who was assassinating the members of his secret sleeper agent cell, has become an even deeper political thriller type of web for the Black Panther and his allies. John Ridley has done a marvelous job at crafting a story that easily shifted from spy thriller to political thriller without losing a step or losing any of the great action pieces or character beats that have filled the first four issues. We’re given a bevy of potential suspects as to the originator of this possible plan to take over Wakanda, yet despite how potentially guilty every party might be there is enough doubt to make one consider perhaps there are players we have yet to meet.
There is a lot of current event sort of vibes coming off the story as questions about “loyalty” and who is or isn’t a traitor and the pitfalls of both a monarchy and democracy rear their heads as well. Everything T’Challa did he said he did for the love of his country, yet this misguided secret protective ‘love’ might not only doom him but his entire country because he spent far too much time in the shadows rather than trying to find the hopeful light.
This fifth issue brings us an artistic duo again with Juann Cabal remaining on board with Stefano Landiini joining him and Matt Milla and Joe Sabino remaining on colors and letters respectively. Like the last issue there are some notable differences in Cabal and Landini’s artwork, but not to the same degree. There are enough similarities that the transition is much smoother and honestly wasn’t even something my brain registered on the first read-through, but on a second look, it was easier to tell.
Both capture the great kinetic energy of the action scenes, as well as the really tense setting of emotions in the more dialogue-heavy exposition/character scenes. Milla’s colors balance the bright variety of colors and more muted shadows realm helping bridge the artwork even more. I really love the bright flashes of vivid colors like greens and purples and yellows and more that can be found in various areas of Wakanda, never shying away from showing off how gorgeous and colorful this nation truly can be.
While the artwork provides a ton of the aforementioned energy, the lettering brings its own energy to play as well. It flows naturally and there are good bits of personality peeking through, especially when little changes like shrinking the font happen to showcase a lighter tone such as an early moment where Shuri is whispering/muttering under her breath.
Black Panther #5 is available digitally and in print from Marvel Comics.