Somewhere in deep space, a quiet prodigy easily evades and wipes out the Empire’s starfighters. His name is not Luke! It might be T’Challa. That and more mysteries in Black Panther #2. Is it good?
The maroon who’s taken the name of a fallen king is brazen. Cocky, even. Maybe he has a right to be? He doesn’t care much for working with his squadron, but the results speak for themselves.
Meanwhile on Planet Bast, the (yes, you guessed it) shrouded emperor is none too pleased. How could this one man destroy a vibranium depot, steal a freighter and pull off an assassination? He’s a man of unusual ability! Well, the emperor is a man of unusual … regalia? And he’s got a serious space artifact to put this fake cat in his place!
In Black Panther #2, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates proves he is not afraid to play with genre, and even specific franchises. The artifact at the the end is a deep cut from X-Men lore, and the whole issue could have been ripped right out of Star Wars. Are you ready for a 14-page, outer space dogfight?
With Daniel Acuña on art, you bet your sweet nerfherder you are! A whole lot of stretched out panels for that zooming motion, and his typical use of insets is PERFECT for close-ups of instruments and gauges. The colors really make those displays pop, too, and they help differentiate the ships.
While it all looks good, even poster-worthy, it’s surprisingly difficult to follow the action. This is an issue you don’t usually see with Acuña’s work — as painstaking as it is, he’s most often a fine storyteller, too. Maybe he overcompensated on the speed and weapons effects.
It’s a beautiful thing to behold, but the dogfight also serves to further Coates’ telling of a legend in the making — a slave who would rise above it all. Call the man who might be T’Challa a Gary Stu, but this isn’t too far afield from how our heroes were lionized in the old days.
If you think that’s boring, there’s still enough mystery here, holding over from the debut issue, to hold attention. Is this really the future? Is that really our Black Panther? What are M’Baku and Nakia doing there? What’s with the Storm(?) flashbacks? All that on top of some well-hewn afrofuturism create a layered and engaging backdrop.
Black Panther #2 is a great-looking book that continues Coates’ world-building in this far away galaxy (and time?). The language of the characters is consistent and immersive, though some exposition-heavy captions do sneak in at points. That may be due to Acuña’s atypical inability to convey action here, despite the gorgeous images. The spaceship dogfight probably shouldn’t take up two thirds-plus of the issue, but it serves its purpose in showing how bad-ass the protagonist is.
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