A Colonizer Comes Calling: Reviewing ‘Black Panther’ #9
by Scott Redmond
‘Black Panther’ turns the page and enters a new very strange chapter following the very tense dramatic thriller that opened this latest series for the former king of Wakanda. A new artistic creative team brings some interesting life to this series and brings great energy that helps this story sail along.
Comic book ongoing series often work on the idea of storytelling that builds upon and overlaps each other, whether there is a stated overarching mega goal for the series or not. What follows one arc might be a continuation of tone or sometimes a change in tone. How does one follow up an eight-part spy thriller drama status quo-changing first arc of a new Black Panther series?
Apparently by doing something just totally wildly different.
That’s not to say that John Ridley isn’t picking up threads from that aforementioned first arc. We start off dealing with T’Challa/Black Panther coming back to the Avengers and taking back his chairperson role while dealing with the emotional fallout of being basically cast out of Wakanda for his sins. There are some solid moments between him and Steve Rogers, as Captain America has faith in T’Challa but questions if the man’s heart is fully in being the leader that the Avengers need him to be.
That’s when things take a wild turn. We’re introduced to a new villain known as the Colonialist who lives up to the name looking like an old-timey pink creepy smiling ghost or something that embodies every bit of toxic trait that comes with white supremacy and that colonizer mindset. Riding in on an elephant with a bunch of women as his “objectifications” that have been “lovingly misogynized.” Calling the Avengers he meets things like Aryan King (Thor), Jingo Commando (Captain America), Captain Hottie (Captain Marvel), and Negro Feline (Black Panther).
Yeah, just let that all sink in. It’s something, that’s for sure.
No matter what part of the internet proclaims, comic books and all art are inherently political as they tackle the issues and facets of our life in the human society on this planet. Ridley is just diving straight in here and I’m fully certain that the aforementioned segment of the internet will be blowing their top seeing this book and will scream something about “social justice warrior” and “wokeness” or whatever.
Black Panther has had quite an artistic creative shuffle through its first nine issues, and we get another change here as Germán Peralta takes over as the new regular artist for the book. There is a heavy and almost rough but smooth feeling to Peralta’s art style that lends itself to this story. Just those first pages with T’Challa floating in a space-like void talking about nothingness and then some of the big set pieces are really something, full of fantastic depth and detail that looks amazing. Peralta has one of those artistic styles where one could strip away the words and there is such depth, detail, and motion that a story could be told without a single word being uttered.
Helping this along are the lush deep vivid but not too bright colors that Jesus Aburtov brings to the page, another new artistic contributor to this series. Though it’s not the first time the two have worked together with this book, as they handled one of the backup stories within the third, also anniversary 200th, issue of the series. I enjoy how there are some panels, especially blank backgrounds, where Aburtov allows the colors to take on an almost watercolor-like quality that is pretty, next to the panels where the colors are firmer. We also get a great contrast of some heavier shadowed/darker colors next to bright flashy purples, pinks, blues, and other colors that represent not only the Colonialist but also the high tech of Wakanda/Avengers and other superhero-like elements.
One area that hasn’t changed is the lettering where Joe Sabino is still holding down the proverbial fort, bringing fantastic energy to all the words on the page. Plenty of little things were done that set the tone through the issue from always delightful different text/bubble for Thor’s speech to the well-used emphasizers (such as bolding the real and altered hero names) to just doing things with the font to make sure that volume/tone are fully clear in anyone’s words. Can’t forget the handful of fun but also colorful and in-the-moment SFX that we get near the end of the issue, so impactful you can just really hear the things that they are providing written sound for at the moment.
Black Panther #9 is now available from Marvel Comics.