WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Black Panther #14, from Ta-Nehisi Coates, Daniel Acuña, Carlos Lao and Joe Sabino, on sale now.
Ta-Nehisi Coates' intergalactic saga has grown issue by issue with Black Panther pitting a displaced King T'Challa against a new version of the Wakandan Empire -- a conquering army led by the hate-filled N'Jadaka/Killmonger. However, while this T'Challa is from the Marvel 616 Universe, everyone else is from a different realm, with Coates' story focusing on to the king leaving Earth only to end up lost in a space-time rift.
Nonetheless, even after finding out the truth, T'Challa ignores the memories he recovered of his real-life and tries to finish the war that N'Jadaka has been carrying out, using the space kingdom for evil instead of good after usurping the throne. In the latest issue, though, T'Challa and his rebels finally strike a huge blow, and this equalizer comes in the form of their very own Death Star.
Make no mistake, this is a Star Wars-influenced story with T'Challa as the chosen one and N'Jadaka as the evil emperor enslaving the cosmos. It's similar to Luke Skywalker's journey in discovering his heritage and then trying to unseat a man who wants to subjugate the entire galaxy, except here T'Challa is much more of an aggressive warrior.
Imprisoned in vibranium mines after being marooned in this dimension, T'Challa didn't find his target: the Vega system where his vibranium meteors came from. Instead, he found anguish as he lost his memory, working as a slave under the banner of an empire he can't believe is so vile. Nonetheless, T'Challa overcomes and rises up as leader with M'Baku and Nakia at his side.
He's gotten new allies along the way, with his resistance boasting Eden (aka the Manifold), who was also displaced from the 616 with T'Challa, Farouk -- leader of the amphibian race, the Teku Maza -- and lastly, Bast, the Panther God who's possessed Zenzi, N'Jadaka's daughter, and fled to T'Challa's rebellion. And as the wicked king comes hunting them down it's then and there the rebels turns the planet he's approaching, Agwe, into a bomb to take out the emperor.
This is done using a killer core (made up of the M'Kraan crystal and vibranium), with the king being lured there as Agwe launches its own sortie. Sadly, the freedom fighters didn't realize N'Jadaka would arrive into their trap so soon, and after beseeching his ancestors in the ethereal plane known as the Djalia, it becomes clear to T'Challa this is the moment where sacrifices have to be made. And so said, so done.
There are no entreaties to be made with someone who enforced such an inviolable rule like N'Jadaka, there's only fighting fire with fire. Still, there's a large expense as Farouk and one-fifth of the resistance aren't able make it off the planet in time.
Manifold was using his teleportation powers to get everyone to safety, but with interstellar telemetry down, he can't gauge where to drop them off and so the evacuation has to be cut short. M'Baku's colleagues contemplate an alternate solution but with N'Jadaka's forces pressing, they have to cut their losses and retreat. It's a hefty price to pay and while Bast/Zenzi shows her glaring power by possessing the minds of the Imperial pilots and having them turn into suicide bombers to attack N'Jadaka's main vessel, there are just too many fighters for the rebellion to shut down.
They can't waste this window of opportunity and as time runs out Farouk activates the bomb, leading to the planet's destruction. It's bittersweet because T'Challa wanted none of his people to lose their lives, but what's done is done. Now, it wasn't a death ray like the Star Wars movies, but a ruse Admiral Ackbar would have been proud of. Even the Sith would applaud what Farouk and Co. accomplish as N'Jadaka's ship is caught in the blast radius.
Still, the unethical ruler doesn't just have a Klytnar suit, he also co-opted a vast portion of Bast's energy and overall godhood, so we fully expect him to survive and finish the fight. Of course, he doesn't know Bast is possessing Zenzi so this, along with the destruction of so much of his armada, will undoubtedly increase his ruthless mission. However, T'Challa is finally embracing his old Black Panther identity once more, so it's shaping up to be a battle for the ages as both kings already having lost so much.
Black Panther #15 goes on sale Aug. 28.