T’Challa hunts his own family down after learning there is a traitor in Wakanda. Writer Evan Narcisse expertly weaves together a tale of intrigue as various threads from previous issues begin to meet. Is it good?
After the previous issue, I have to confess: I was a bit worried that Evan Narcisse would betray the established persona of Hunter – T’Challa’s adopted brother and the White Wolf. Hunter, for all his flaws and schemes has always been portrayed as a Wakandan loyalist. The idea that he would attempt to betray Wakanda flew in the face of his prior appearances.
So it is early in Rise of the Black Panther #5 that I was met with a pleasant surprise. The traitor is revealed to be not Hunter, but Jakarra – T’Challa’s half-brother. As a longtime Black Panther fan, it’s nice to see this particular aspect of T’Challa’s family tree addressed. Jakarra was an important part to Jack Kirby’s run on the book but has been ignored ever since, creating an additional disparity between that run and the others. Narcisse builds on that relationship in the same way that he developed N’Yami in this series’ debut, and it works brilliantly.
In fact, Rise of the Black Panther #5 establishes itself quickly as one of the better issues in the series. Narcisse’s pacing is much stronger here, and the series is finally starting to cohere into a whole. While previous issues built up various pieces of T’Challa’s past, there was never a strong sense of a true arc to the series. But that emerges in this issue as Killmonger plots his rise.
The clues to that plot are in the artwork here as the artwork is brilliantly brought to life by Javier Pina and Edgar Salazar. T’Challa’s journey sees him not only reconvene with Storm after their time together as youths but also shows T’Challa’s time as “Luke Charles” in America – where he meets a certain other Luke. As densely packed as the story is, Pina and Salazar do a great job making sure all these scenes have room to breathe. Panels never feel overly crowded and the plentiful action is dynamically framed. Rise of the Black Panther #5 is a testament to the artists’ abilities to create ebb and flow in a fight, however brief. The two artists’ styles don’t clash, the unison made all the cleaner by the color artwork by Stéphane Paitreau, who really makes for some moody images – especially when Storm and T’Challa attack the Hyena Clan.
Is It Good?
Rise of the Black Panther #5 sees Evan Narcisse’s book show itself as a true miniseries rather than a “greatest untold stories” collection. There are still plenty of reveals in that regard, but this is the first time the series has really felt as something more than the sum of its parts. The artwork by Javier Pina, Edgar Salazar and Stéphane Paitreau is dynamic and keeps the pacing of the story flowing nicely, preventing the issue from feeling like a series of vignettes.
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