‘Black Panther’ returns to where it all began, revealing the mastermind that has been pulling the strings since issue one in a story that continues to test T’Challa and pull the character apart more and more. Some solid conversations and some great bits with the Avengers as well as solid powerful artwork make this story work pretty well.
For months, the life of former King T’Challa has been spiraling as his sins have come to light and Wakanda has fully pushed beyond the Monarchy to embrace Democracy. After a battle with the other-dimensional Colonialist, T’Challa is at his lowest point back among the Avengers when a new foe with a familiar face has arrived to make things even tougher.
I wasn’t sure where this series was going after the two-part deviation that followed the very long first arc. Most of the first arc was a political thriller and then it was a thriller of sorts with a bit of mystery, and the second arc was pretty wild and had some on-the-nose commentary about colonization and aspects of current-day society. Here though we get back firmly to the death and mystery that began the whole series, surprisingly revealing who was behind everything that has befallen Wakanda and T’Challa.
I’ve gone on about not digging drawn-out mysteries, so John Ridley just cutting to the chase here is refreshing but also truth be told, was a bit of a shocker for me. In the sense that a reveal this soon after the big arc may indicate that this run is close to wrapping up (no official word of that right now, of course), they’re getting to the big mystery sooner rather than later. On the one hand, this is a time where a bit more time exploring what this all has done to T’Challa might be nice, but on the other hand, just getting to the reveal opens some other avenues to explore. So, we’ll see where it goes beyond this.
Overall, I liked the dynamic of this group pushing for peace only using means to repel and not harm anyone and the Avenger’s frustration at such a foe. It seemed a bit telegraphed that this was something tied to Wakanda, but that was by design it seems to lay the crumbs to try and convince us it was one person rather than who it was. As for that reveal, it’s intriguing and could lead to some deeper exploration of T’Challa which overall this issue did pretty well. The continued clashes of views that T’Challa and Steve Rogers have, and how both sides have legit reasons to feel the way they do (and Rogers’s concerns about T’Challa’s fitness are not unwarranted), are very well done and interesting.
This is an issue that is less action-packed than the last and has a lot more moving people and exposition around, which naturally Germán Peralta makes all look great. Peralta hits all the right emotional notes and structures the pages in a way that makes the moves of the Wakandan group, the Avengers, and others flow in a natural way that highlights the power on display from all sides. There is a lightness but also a heavy rough feeling to the artwork that is befitting of this story which has hope and rough edges to it. We’re given a lot of detail and depth on the pages, but he knows when to pull back on some of that in order to make certain aspects the central singular focus of any panel or page.
We get a new colorist with this issue as Ceci De La Cruz joins the series, bringing a new sort of look to things. Their colors are very bright and vivid with an almost watercolor/paint sort of feeling to them on top of the art, also coming in a bit toned down in brightness for some of the specific moments. These are colorful events that are showcased within the artwork, with a variety of splashes of color for the fancy tech and costumed heroes fitting in well with the more grounded natural world colors around them.
Being an issue that relies on narration for the first portion and then has a lot of conversations going on, there is plenty for Joe Sabino to do in regard to lettering. Sabino makes sure to set a level for natural conversation within the fonts, which then allows for the louder or quieter moments to shine with text/bubbles that grow or shrink respectively. Having moments where someone’s yelling is visually shown by having their words bursting out of the confines of the bubble is just such a great comic book sort of move that I love. Also, will always love Thor’s dialogue being done in a different font, to always remind us how differently he speaks from the others around him.
Black Panther #11 is now available from Marvel Comics.