Why You Should Be Reading Black Panther
Only two issues in, the new Black Panther series has taken the comic world by storm. Here's why I think comic readers and non-readers alike should be reading this book.
- •Ta-Nehisi Coates is a (literary) genius.I always enjoy when talented writers from outside of the world of comics start writing for a book. They bring a new sensibility that I find refreshing. Coates' story has emotional weight and depth that can be rare to find in mainstream books. Side note: I've started reading Coates' Between the World and Me, and it's blowing my mind. It's required reading for modern race relations in America.
- •Brian Stelfreeze is a (artistic) genius.What an incredible match up of writer and artist talent. Stelfreeze's style nails the dichotomy of the advanced technology and the naturalistic African environment.
- •Shout out also to the colorist, Laura Martin.Colorist is usually a thankless job. Readers mostly notice when a colorist screws up, not excels. Laura Martin nails it on this book and her colors really bring the world to life. I also love that Stelfreeze and Martin do the covers together.
- •This is a different Africa than we normally see in the Marvel universe.Wakanda may be a fictional nation, but the African setting feels more authentic than usual. The visuals feel more separate from Western influence and many of the plot lines seem more real-world (corrupt warlords, exploitation of labor and the environment, etc).
- •The political intrigue could be right out of Game of Thrones.A disgraced king facing off against civil unrest (of the natural and unnatural variety). A leader trying to get past the disappointment of his family. Gifted individuals torn between serving royalty and serving the people.
- •The story is accessible (ish).It can be daunting to jump onto a comic series. You're dealing with characters that have literally decades of backstory. However, this series is a good starting point. The story told here doesn't rely too much on the character's history, though some background would be helpful. I'd recommend using this while reading issue #1: www.vulture.com/2016/04/ta-nehisi-coates-black-panther-annotated.html. It fills in some of the holes that might be confusing to new readers.
- •I don't know how this series ends, but if the first two issues are any indicator, we are in for something special.
- •So, how can you get these books?Check out your local comic book store (though this series has been selling out quickly). Or you can purchase digital copies of the books on either the Comixology or Marvel app. Or you can wait until the twelve issues of Coates' run is completed and the books are assembled in a hardcover collection.