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'Wakanda' #1 lets Shuri shine in time for 'Wakanda Forever'
Marvel

Comic Books

‘Wakanda’ #1 lets Shuri shine in time for ‘Wakanda Forever’

Williams is a great fit for Shuri, and the snappy dialogue captures the character’s wit.

With T’Challa exiled in Black Panther, Wakanda must find new champions to defend it from threats. This is the background that leads to the new Wakanda miniseries, with an anthology approach. The first issue sees Shuri defend Wakanda against an attack by longtime Spider-Man rogue, the Rhino.

Writer Stephanie Williams and penciler Paco Medina take the lead on Wakanda #1. Williams is a great fit for Shuri, and the snappy dialogue captures the wit of the character. Williams frames the intro to the story as a meeting between mother and daughter as Ramonda attempts to pull Shuri away from her work in the lab as the princess has begun to take on her brother’s “prepare-for-everything” attitude. Ramonda warns Shuri that this very attitude is what led to T’Challa being exiled. Some of this characterization seems a bit off – Ramonda has often aided in her son’s schemes and reminded others of the positives of being two steps ahead of one’s enemies (and three ahead of your friends), but Williams mostly contextualizes this as a concern for Shuri’s wellbeing.

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Paco Medina does a great job capturing the expressiveness in Williams’ writing, with subtle looks exchanged between mother and daughter, with inkers Walden Wong and Elisabetta D’Amico making sure Medina’s line work shines. Color artist Bryan Valenza creates a lush and vivid Wakanda, with saturated hues heightening the beauty of the nation. If Wakanda is to be the focus of the miniseries, it’s certainly nice that it looks so good. Letterer Joe Sabino also does a great job balancing some of the longer dialogue pieces with the artwork making for a read that flows well across the page.

Wakanda #1

Credit: Marvel

Stephanie Williams also subtly addresses one of the lingering questions from the story happening in the pages of Black Panther – why is Shuri allowed to remain in Wakanda when she aided T’Challa in his escape from the government? While it isn’t directly spelled out, Williams leaves that as an open concern that Shuri has, helping flesh out the overall story without stopping for an exposition dump. This balance is something Williams does well – the main story also tees up the backup story by Evan Narcisse.

The backend of this main story is an explosive fight between Shuri and Rhino, with Shuri utilizing both her tech and her Aja-adanna powers to great effect. Medina’s line art picks up new energy in the fight, with characters bursting out of panels and the panels themselves “shaking” on the page due to Rhino’s rampage. Frustratingly, both Rhino and Shuri act as if Rhino has never been to Wakanda before. However, Rhino was part of Klaw’s assault force in “Who is the Black Panther?” the story by Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr. that also introduced Shuri to the canon. It’s not the end of the world, but it feels like a missed opportunity not to have some fun with that continuity, especially with the way Williams writes Shuri.

Wakanda #1

Credit: Marvel

The backup story, “History of the Black Panthers,” by Evan Narcisse, Natacha Bustos, Jordie Bellaire, and Joe Sabino, focuses on two of the earliest Black Panthers, Mosi, and Bashenga. Narcisse and Bustos do a great job pacing this story and getting new information onto the page. The narrative is framed as a history lesson from Ramonda to a group of Wakandan schoolchildren, and that allows Narcisse to use a more expository storytelling style, though some readers may find that approach a little flat. In addition to helping to organize material that was already canon, Narcisse adds new dimensions to the panthers that help flesh out their history in relation to Wakanda and one another.

Wakanda #1 is a solid start to fleshing out the cast of characters that inhabit the nation. Stephanie Williams has a great voice for Shuri, and Paco Medina’s artwork makes for a great match. While there are some missed opportunities with continuity and the backup story by Evan Narcisse will largely only interest those who are heavily invested in learning Wakanda’s history, Wakanda #1 is a nice story that shows off Shuri in time for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

'Wakanda' #1 lets Shuri shine in time for 'Wakanda Forever'
‘Wakanda’ #1 lets Shuri shine in time for ‘Wakanda Forever’
Wakanda #1
Shuri shines in a story that pits her against longtime Spider-Man foe the Rhino.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Stephanie Williams has a great voice for Shuri.
The artwork by Paco Medina gives the story the expressiveness it deserves.
Evan Narcisse nicely ties together some of the disparate continuity in the franchise in "The History of the Black Panthers."
Some of the characterization of Ramonda feels a bit off.
Shuri and Rhino both need their memories checked.
The backup story may feel flat to those who have only a passing interest in the past Black Panthers.
7.5
Good
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