We’re still posting our rankings for the first six months of Marvel’s relaunch, but the hits keep on coming from the House of Ideas, and I don’t doubt that had we waited until All New All Different Marvel – Week 27 to tabulate results, Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze would have made the Top 10.
In an interview with NPR, National Book Award recipient Coates talks about how working with Marvel, despite his first experience writing comics, nonetheless makes him “feel back at home.” And home, in this case, is taking a character that debuted fifty years ago in the pages of The Fantastic Four, and making him powerfully relevant in the present.
Given Black Panther’s impending appearance in Marvel Films’ Captain America: Civil War, and a planned solo movie, it would have been easy for the company to simply inundate the comic shop with team book appearances; new series, both limited and ongoing; and half-hearted attempts at putting his face on as many covers as possible. You know, like Deadpool.
Granted, T’challa is part of Ewing & Rocafort’s The Ultimates, but this Coates and Stelfreeze series is the definitive Panther book, and by no means a requisite media tie-in. And despite a fair amount of back-story to churn through, including the current state of Wakanda, the fictional African kingdom ruled by the T’challa, this new Black Panther delivers on Marvel’s promise to offer an excellent jumping-on point for new readers.
The book opens with a scene of civil unrest in the kingdom, an incident apparently fomented by a super-powered dissident able to invoke the citizens’ rage and impatience. Politics will certainly play a part in this first storyline, and, as Stelfreeze explains in his afterword, Wakanda itself is an important character, a fantastic nation at once recovering from cataclysmic contact with the outside world and, at the same time, dealing with imminent revolt within. But this first issue also highlights the action, intrigue, and science-fiction that promises an incredible four-color adventure. No more talk about Coates’s lack of comic book experience; this guy is going to write the hell out of Black Panther.
Other Marvel Highlights:
Several other series atop Idle Time’s ANAD Rankings have new books this week, including James Robinson’s Scarlet Witch #5, with Javier Pulido getting the call in the artist rotation.
Bendis gives us both Spider-Man #3 with Sara Pichelli and Invincible Iron Man #8 with Mike Deodato, and King and Walta wrap up the first arc in the insanely good Vision series with issue #6. The latest Apocalypse crossover (blatant movie tie-in, but it’s fun so we get it), hits Bunn and Land’s Uncanny X-Men #6. Samnee and Waid keep it turned up to eleven in Black Widow #2. Basically, it’s a really good week if you’re a Marvel fan.
Wakanda isn’t the only fictional utopia getting turned inside-out this week. The latest in DC’s series of Earth One graphic novels is Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette’s Wonder Woman, Volume One. It’s a modern re-telling of Diana’s origins that challenges our male-dominated pantheons of heroes, both in the capes n’ tights of modernity, and loincloths n’ lionskins of classicism. More importantly, it’s Morrison’s first solo book of the Amazonian princess and, paired up with the gorgeous artwork of Paquette, a real wonder that it’s taken this long to happen.