Retelling classic origin stories has become pretty commonplace, especially when current continuity can seem overwhelming. While Spider-Man and Batman see their origins retooled and updated with the times every few years, there are a number of beloved characters who haven’t gotten the same level of attention. Marvel is now using their Legends brand to shine a light on these heroes, launching a new set of miniseries geared toward all ages. The first of these debuts this week with Black Panther Legends, the first chapter in a four-issue mini that explores the early days of the young prince of Wakanda.
The story begins with a friendly race between T’Challa and his adopted brother Hunter, which serves as a perfect introduction to the youngsters, as well as a perfect metaphor for the competitiveness that will define their relationship. If you weren’t aware that T’Challa had a brother, let alone one who is white, you’re not alone. Hunter is a lesser known character who shared a childhood with T’Challa but wasn’t even introduced in the comics until over 30 years after the Black Panther’s debut. Hunter’s inclusion is just one example of the purpose of Black Panther Legends. Writer Tochi Onyebuchi honors the legacy of past creators and the rich history of the characters by including smaller moments and nuances inspired by retroactive continuity.
Much of the issue plays like a behind-the-scenes look at the early days of Wakanda, focusing on smaller, intimate moments between King T’Chaka and Queen Ramonda, T’Challa and his siblings (yes, Shuri shows up because of course she does), and even their future nemesis Ulysses Klaue. While there are some issues with pacing, Onyebuchi cleverly shifts focus between these three groups, building up the tension nicely and leading up to a heartbreaking moment that will define T’Challa’s character.
Artist Setor Fiadzigbey brings this world and its characters to life with a very unique and lavish style. The lush forests of Wakanda nicely contrast with the sleek, futuristic design of its buildings and technology. The book has such a dynamic look that even a boardroom scene focusing on Wakandan politics looks incredible. Paris Alleyne’s colors have such a pure, watercolor style that meshes perfectly with Fiadzigbey’s pencils. It’s a beautiful book that you’ll want read again with each subsequent issue.