The second part of the second story arc of “Black Panther” bounces around the plotlines from Wakanda as lithely as the Panther herself dodges and leaps during battle. This book is finally in motion and while it is not moving forward at full speed yet, it is definitely moving forward. I’m not sure if that development is coincidental with the fact that this title has a new writer and artist, but there is no denying that things are different in this issue than they have been for over a half year of “Black Panther.”
Maberry is able to slide right in and continue to develop the story of T’Challa, Shuri, and their supporting cast. His characters function with natural dialog, his sequences move gracefully through their paces, and the action is unrelenting. Of course, there are no fewer than four different storylines checking in this issue, which definitely helps move the issue along. It almost feels as though this issue is an apology for the painfully decompressed stories that paced the first six months of this title.
Conrad’s art is well matched for the story Maberry provides. This issue takes us all around Wakanda and gives us a wide range of characters, all of which are as stunningly drawn as the main combatants in the big fight scene of this issue. The impetus for the fight scene turns out to potentially be a red herring as Black (Shuri) Panther thinks she has found information to damn the armies of Atlantis. Meanwhile, Maberry provides us with glimpses into the recovery of T’Challa. Those segments are a rare glimpse into a hero’s road back to feeling useful and virile. T’Challa’s recovery tales are a welcome addition to this title, which is the closest thing Marvel can offer fans requesting a “legacy” set within the Marvel Universe. T’Challa’s quest is set in a direction different from the path his sister Shuri is on. Nonetheless, the resolution of that adventure will have long-lasting repercussions to the entire Panther clan.
The first half-dozen issues may have chased a few readers away, but this issue definitely pays off the dedication of those readers who stuck around. Black Panther may be hip-deep in action in this issue, but the action and the challenges appear to be ready to exponentially ramp up with next issue’s inferred guest star (no it is not Mickey Mouse). The book has regained a sense of political intrigue, reestablished the Wakandan way of things, and given us a diverse cast to enjoy. I was one of the readers chased off by the plodding first story arc. I’m back and I’m definitely looking forward to more of “Black Panther”.