Black Panther #2 (LGY #174)

 Ta-Nehisi Coates
 Daniel Acuña
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Daniel Acuña
Publisher: Marvel Comics

A review by Nico Sprezzatura.

After a few years of his slow-burning superhero sage, Ta-Nehisi Coates relaunched his Black Panther run with a cosmic bang. Does this week’s Black Panther #2 have more where that came from? Absolutely it does!

“The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda” is interesting. It’s a such a break from what Coates established in his initial run. Is it all a dream? An elaborate non-sequitur? Something that’s actually happening in continuity? In lesser hands, this story would feel incomprehensible and superfluous, but Coates & artist Daniel Acuña incorporate enough clues and iconography for us to latch onto, rather than feel alienated by.

For example, we’re never told that it’s him in dialogue, but we’re meant to recognize that our big bad emperor is none other than Killmonger himself, N’Jadaka. (The backmatter later confirms as much.) Given how massive the Black Panther movie was, we can look at a feline-esque figure with gold markings and know instantly who it is. This is one of the instances where cross-medium brand synergy actually benefits the reading experience; it assumes we know who somebody (or something) is, letting the storyteller continue without having to stop dead in their tracks to deliver exposition.

(Another example of this is that we’re meant to recognize that Killmonger’s suit is bonded with the freaking Venom symbiote. Seriously! It’s awesome!!!)

On a meta-level, “The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda” is also notable for how seamlessly it integrates some of the Black Panther movie’s biggest players, especially since some of them are wildly different from their original forms. Nakia, for example, is a villain in current continuity. M’Baku is similarly portrayed as an antagonist. In this story, they’re presented as more heroic in nature like they are in the film. I’d very much like to see how (or if) Coates brings them into the fold after this arc concludes and he returns to his previous story in progress.

I’m not sure if Acuña will be the ongoing artist for Coates moving forward, but this arc really makes a good case for him staying on the book long-term. His visuals are seriously career-best level here; there’s one double-page spread, in particular, that looks fantastic, packing so much punch in such (relatively) little space.

The Verdict
With an exciting story & pitch-perfect visuals, Black Panther #2 delivers on its promise of its preceding issue & cements its place on your pull list.

Nico Sprezzatura
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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