It’s M’Baku’s World: Reviewing ‘Wakanda’ #2

by Scott Redmond

Overview

‘Wakanda’ takes a journey into the depths of space as the newest M’Baku deals with a collision of past and present, with the fate of the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda hanging in the balance. A familiar story with some new interesting trappings full of gorgeous science-fiction style art, coupled with another educational bit of Black Panther history to cap it off.

Overall
9/10
9/10

While Black Panther is dealing with a variety of trials and tribulations outside of Wakanda, the nation’s rich history and various characters that call it and its offshoots home are getting some much-needed spotlight.

After putting a spotlight on Shuri in the first issue, Wakanda turns its attention to the version of M’Baku who belongs to the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda first revealed during the Ta-Nehisi Coates run of Black Panther a few years ago. Truth be told, this is an era of Black Panther stories that I have yet to actually read, having fallen behind quite a bit the past few years on some books.

Coming into this with only a little knowledge of the whole story, it wasn’t hard to follow. Evan Narcisse and Adam Serwer worked hard to make sure that the story was pretty easily accessible, focusing on the simple concept of those formerly in power striking back to try and get things back to the way they used to be. It is a well-known story through fiction and reality, with a unique space Wakandan flavoring to it. There is a ton of great character moments and interaction, anytime we get more Monica Rambeau is a treat, and a lot of good conversations about freedom and how a nation has to find its way. It left me wanting to read the original story about this version of Wakanda, but also see some more of them going forward.

Ibraim Roberson has just such a beautiful artistic style, so detailed and dense and full of life. All of the cosmic space elements just popped as they are beyond Earth with a Wakandan twist, making the Empire look similar to Wakanda that we know but wholly its own thing. All of the action just jumps off the page, while the facial work that is in play is just top-notch. All of the emotions have weight and impact to them and we can fully feel them in the moment.

There is a bit of roughness to the slick quality of colors that Andrew Dalhouse brings to the page. Overall, they have a lot of bright quality to them but in a sort of toned-down way, outside of some pages where the overwhelming brightness is used to great effect to showcase some power or technical happening. I really like the use of the yellows and browns to signify flashbacks and cutaways, making it clear that they are not part of the main action and making them very memory-like in quality.

We get a much shorter but no less effective and welcome second chapter of the ‘History Of The Black Panthers’ from Narcisse, Natcha Bustos, and Jordie Bellaire. In just two pages they are able to tell a truly compelling story about the first of the Jabari tribe to become a Black Panther. What Narcisse is doing with the framing device to guide the Panther stories we see is so great, as is making sure to tie them to whatever might sort of be happening in the first story. Making flashbacks and essentially a history lesson, albeit fictional history, interesting is a task that Narcisse easily accomplishes.

Bustos and Bellaire keep bringing some fantastic work to the page with a variety of packed panels and colors that are bright and vivid but also nicely toned befitting of a memory-style story. There is so much going on in most of the panels, less in others, but it all serves a purpose and tells the story without ever feeling like they are crowded or ineffective. Bellaire is a great colorist whose style shifts to match whatever the artist brings to the page while retaining trademark qualities, and here those colors are a bit softer and smoother but still have the bright splashes of color that she so often brings along.

Joe Sabino is the one that brings all the lettering for both stories to life. There is a lot to go through as both stories are very exposition heavy, with tons of dialogue and captions filling the pages but never being overwhelming in any way. There is just enough to make sure that they flow and keep the reader moving along very easily. Sabino employs so many of the visual flairs for lettering that I’m a fan of from having a word be shouted to the point that it extends out of a bubble, clear indicators for tone/volume, and a bunch of just fun right in the moment SFX that enhance the story.

Wakanda #2 is now available from Marvel Comics.

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