A Killer Amongst Them: Reviewing ‘Wakanda’ #3
by Scott Redmond
‘Wakanda’ turns the focus to Killmonger as the foe to T’Challa gets some more backstory spelled out to reveal a formative moment within the young man’s life. An intriguing story that deepens the character while staying true to what is known about him, wrapped up within a visually appealing package alongside more of the great historical backup stories.
A hero is only as good as their villain, which often speaks to how heroes need a villain that in some ways is their mirror. Killmonger has proven to be that villain in various formats when going against the Black Panther, and while the character is deceased that doesn’t mean there aren’t more stories to be told.
Wakanda provides a space for various creators to explore the land and its people, focusing on characters we know much about and those we might not know as much about. Personally, I’m not as familiar specifically with Killmonger’s story, never having read those comics. Thanks to the Black Panther film though, and just researching things through the years, I’m aware of many of the basics. Getting to see a story from his younger more formative years was intriguing, as it somewhat colors parts that are known about the character but also opens other doors that weren’t so open before.
Ho Che Anderson pens a pretty simple, but also not so simple, story of Killmonger and others sent by Ulysses Klaw to obtain a special fruit. Mostly though it’s a story about people making a tough choice about who they are, as they are all secretly tasked to take each other out so that only one may return. Think of it like a Battle Royale or Hunger Games with the contestants climbing a mountain instead unaware of the dangers their fellow contestants pose.
We see a side of Killmonger that wants to trust and connect with people until in the end he’s forced to do what he didn’t think he could do or wanted to do to survive. Putting him on the path that eventually led him to T’Challa. A tight story that is well-paced and put together, offering good character moments and insight.
Sean Hill’s art in the story is fitting for the overall story because it has a rough sharpness to it, just like the mountain and the mission that this group is undertaking. Inks from Le Beau, Keith Champagne, and Walden Wong add some good weight and firmness to it all, enhancing the rougher aspects and helping with the smoother nature we can see within the faces. Especially when they are being more human, connecting with each other. There are a few places where it’s a bit hard to fully tell which character is which and what is overall going on, as the detail is pulled back and the characters sort of blur together.
Color-wise, Andrew Dalhouse keeps things somewhat toned down, which fits the setting the story is all taking place within, allowing for some vibrant pops of color here or there. As noted with the previous issue where Dalhouse also colored, his colors have a slick quality to them but also an inherent roughness which pairs nicely with the artwork here. There are numerous panels on pages where the mountains and even the climbing gear of the characters are very washed out in ways, speaking to the harshness of their space. This allows the panels where the color kicks up several notches to stand out even more.
All of the History of The Black Panther pieces at the end of the issues have been illuminating, this one even more so because of how it’s also a history for the Dora Milaje. Evan Narcisse, Natcha Bustos, and Jordie Bellaire are effectively packing a ton of story into basically two pages in a way that leaves a major impact. Having Queen Ramonda narrating these stories, as we saw in the first issue’s longer setup, gives them even more weight because it’s a character that we know and trust and like that is sharing these stories with children but also us the reader.
Words only tell us so much, but the visuals that Bustos and Bellaire are creating show us so much. They are heavily detailed and packed panels that showcase the characters or moments that we’re being told about, in very bright and vibrant ways. Ramonda’s captions give us a bit of detail as to what is happening, but the beauty of the artwork here is that it tells a story even without those captions. Some of the nuances would be lost but it would still be pretty darn clear what is happening thanks to the way they set everything up in the panels and give every moment a perfect representation. Bellaire is just such a great colorist, giving us moments where the colors are pulled back to let the visuals feel more grounded and real and then other moments where she goes all out with the most vivid striking colors to give the moments that surreal fictional pop of life.
Letting across the whole issue falls to Joe Sabino, who brings the same sort of energy and life to the story as the rest of the artwork. There is a lot of exposition to be had in both stories, and he finds ways to make it all flow around the page without ever being overwhelming, but also so that every piece still has the voice of the character firmly in place. Their emotions are clear because the tone and volume of the words are always easy to distinguish so that we the reader can hear in our heads just how the character should sound at any given moment. Rather than having to guess whether they are loud or quiet or some other quality of speaking outside of a normal tone.
Wakanda #3 is now available from Marvel Comics.