Black Panther’s exploration of T’Challa and the sins he has committed continues as the character is brought to a point that should make future stories with him even more interesting, depending on where the conclusion of this story arc goes. Some moments of this story have been stronger than others, but overall it continues to be a very intriguing storyline for the character and for Wakanda as a whole.
Years of paranoia, secret-keeping, and outright lies to those that are closest to him has predictably come back to bite T’Challa in the worst way possible. Branded a traitor and on the run from his very own country, the former king at his lowest point makes one of the biggest sacrifices that someone like him could make in order to rally his allies: casting aside his pride.
With the seventh issue of this big arc, John Ridley puts T’Challa in a very intriguing position as we see him being contrite with Storm and the members of the Dora Milaje summoned by Shuri, expressing his regrets at what he has done. Not only that but he states that he has failed as a leader & all he wants to do is save Wakanda, and he no longer has any compulsion to push for his throne back while Wakanda is trying to build a democracy.
I like how in this, and the last issue Ridley has handled the relationship between Storm and T’Challa, with her stating that she will always love/care for him and be a friend, but she cannot forgive him for the lies that he weaved. Honestly, I think having a T’Challa going forward who is not King, who is not in Wakanda, who has to come face to face with who he has been and work himself back is a good path for the character at this point.
Akili being behind the murder of Jhai, so that he could reveal the sleeper agents and take T’Challa down to allow the Hatut Zeraze to take control of the country is a bit on the nose with the rise of such crooked powers in real-time, but effective. In some ways it does feel like it comes almost out of left field, because we didn’t spend enough time with Akili or in Wakanda proper itself for most of this story arc. This is a long arc, so it feels weird to say we might have needed another issue but that might have helped a bit with this particular bit of the story.
It’s a shame that this first story arc wasn’t able to have a bit more consistency with art, as there have been multiple artists shuffling around, but we do get consistency from the last issue as Stefano Landini and Matt Milla are still on board for this one. Landini’s work has a good energy to it, and the action sequences as well as the quieter moments do have a good flow to them. We can feel and see the emotion as a lot of characters have deep or powerful moments here. It’s not as powerful as the book started off with the more thriller sort of art style, but it works quite well.
Milla’s colors have just the right amount of colorful pop to them while also being muted in a way that allows the light and darkness to be perfectly balanced depending on the need on any given page/panel. There are still some great uses of brighter flashes of colors like blues or oranges to really highlight backgrounds in some powerful scenes. I like how in the places where we are very focused on discussions (such as T’Challa and Dora Milaje out in the wilds) the area is a more neutral not so bright palette while some of the shots of the various realms within Wakanda are far brighter and the color palette is richer/more diverse.
A lot of energy can also be found in the lettering work of Joe Sabino, with dialogue/captions flowing naturally with good bits of personality showing up within any given set of words. Lettering that allows for indicators that make tone/volume clear are some of my favorites, because it makes sure that we know if someone is whispering or yelling or talking normally just by making some minor changes to the font. Rather than us having to guess what their volume might be since we cannot actually hear them talking.
Black Panther #7 is now available from Marvel.