Doomwar #1

It might be titled "Doomwar," but everything else about this comic says "Black Panther." In itself, this isn't so bad; Comics readers have become more than accustomed to entertaining a little subterfuge from a marketing perspective. Where this falls down, though, is that the story spins almost directly out of events in "Black Panther" to the point where new readers will spend the first half of the issue trying to figure out exactly what the status quo is supposed to be.

If you can forgive that, though, there's a fairly decent crossover happening underneath. Ousted from their country and with Storm imprisoned by Doom, T'Challa and his sister (the current Black Panther) turn, quite logically, to the X-Men for assistance. The debates between both groups are among the best-written parts of the issue, and Maberry demonstrates a particularly good grasp on Cyclops, as well as his current situation.

However, Storm's scenes with Doom are a little more uneven. Maberry's depiction of Doom seems a little too ruthless. As a reader who prefers a more morally complex version of the character, it's a bit off-putting to see him willing to blow away those in his charge at a moment's whim, which happens twice in this issue alone. Such wanton brutality seems inconsistent with Doom's supposed intelligence, particularly when he's already holding all the cards.

Eaton's artwork is a step up from his recent work, and is certainly helped by the coloring job. Doom, in particular, is an expressive and flamboyant character, and Eaton depicts his megalomania with a threatening, theatrical air. In the same scenes, Storm has a poise and grace that befits her position as Queen. If there's any trouble with the comic's visuals, it's that much of the issue is far too crowded -- a result of the sprawling cast of both leads and extras.

With the art and writing both possessed of good and not-so-good qualities, this is a comic that has to rely on its content alone to compel the reader. Certainly, there's no reason that can't be enough, but in this case things are a little too complicated to fully engage a newcomer. If you've been following "Black Panther" already, it may well feel like an explosive start to a major event in Black Panther's continuity, but casual readers attracted by the title or issue number will probably come away from it disinterested. Despite all that goes on, an appreciation of the Black Panther is necessary for the story to work, and I suspect that like many who will find themselves reading this issue, my own appreciation of the character simply isn't big enough to sustain me into the next chapter of the story.

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