In an attempt to bring readers up to speed on characters, Marvel Comics has been releasing “Marvel-Verse” digest-sized reprintings as a refresher. They’ve already covered Thanos and Iron Man, and this week Black Panther gets the focus. These books don’t necessarily break down the origin of the characters, but instead, give you a taste of the character and the variety they may bring. This 128-page trade paperback gives you four stories that flesh out the character just enough to possibly pique a new reader’s interest.
This book opens with Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four #10 by Jeff Parker with art by Manuel Garcia and serves as a segue into Black Panther with the Fantastic Four. They find themselves embroiled on a mission that sends them to Africa and eventually Wakanda. It’s a simple and short sort of tale which allows Black Panther and the Fantastic Four to team up to fight a foe who is trying to take over Wakanda.
Following that is Black Panther #14-15 by Ed Hannigan and Jerry Bingham, which reveals the diplomatic nature of Black Panther and also his genius. We get to see him wield Captain America’s shield, pull out some super gloves to fight Klaw, and generally put the Avengers in awe due to how awesome he can be in battle. It’s an early example of creators showing how Black Panther is about as good as the entire Avengers combined.
Next up is Iron Man Annual #5 by Peter B. Gillis and Jerry Bingham which gives us a taste of Wakanda and Kill Monger. There are elements in this issue that were used in the Black Panther movie, with references to the waterfall Warrior Falls seen in the movie as well as Kill Monger’s rebirth. It’s interesting to see how Tony Stark interacts with the Wakandans and it’s an early example of creators showing the culture.
Finally, the book ends with Shuri #1 by Nnedi Okorafo and Leonardo Romero which introduces Shuri at a time when Black Panther is gone from Wakanda. As far as first issues go, this comic book hits it out of the park. I was confident it’d pull off the introduction of the character and its main focus after it rather succinctly introduced readers to Shuri on the very first page. Right out of the gate, it explains the most important elements of the character in the comic universe, and then on the very next page dives into the story at hand. As the story unfolds, writer Nnedi Okorafor sets up why Black Panther isn’t a factor, Shuri’s incredible ability to create gadgets, and an interesting spirit element that gives Shuri a unique edge in comparison to other heroes. There’s also a mystery (or even two) that is set up and the introduction of a cast of female Wakandans that develops the woman’s place in this nation in a fulfilling way. I can imagine this was added to the collection for anyone who was a fan of the film to see Shuri gets her due in the comics.
Overall this is a nice collection, though like the other Marvel-Verse trade paperbacks it doesn’t give you a lot to go on if you’re a first-timer. I do think it would inspire folks to want to read more, so in that respect, it does its job. That said, it leaves out a lot and might be hard for some to fully enjoy without knowing some of the back story of the characters.
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