WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Black Panther #15-16, by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Daniel Acuna, on sale now.
The Marvel symbiotes have been bigger and badder than ever. With Carnage wreaking havoc in Absolute Carnage with the power of a god, it's hard to believe there could be yet another symbiote who is even deadlier, but there's one slithering in the background of Black Panther who may give Carnage a run for his money.
Ta-Nehisi Coates' Black Panther #15-16 keep the symbiote shrouded in mystery as it infiltrates the Wakandan Empire from behind the scenes. While it has yet to reveal its identity or what exactly its scheme is, its involvement with Black Panther's kingdom puts it in the perfect position to exploit one of the most formidable military forces in Marvel history. The nation was always ahead of the curve when it came to the technology and weapons, but after Coates' drastic expansion of Wakanda's reach and influence, it's bigger and more powerful than ever.
The title of the book itself refers to the "Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda," referencing Coates' introduction of a star-spanning sect of Wakandans who left Earth for space long ago. Recent events rejoined the Wakandans with their lost brothers, and with a population numbering in the trillions, there is seemingly no limit to the amount of world-building and development Coates can do. The author's focus in writing Black Panther was always primarily on fleshing out the history and culture of the titular character's motherland, but with such an expansive development, he introduced a jaw-dropping potential the Wakandan world yet to be explored, as well as a danger creeping within its shadows.
Although the nation was first introduced as hermetically and dogmatically removed from outside interference, they have since expanded into intergalactic political theater. Armed with fleets of spaceships (which Storm fights alongside with a dazzling display of power in the most recent issue), there is no military threat on Earth that can hold a candle. And now, behind all of that, is a symbiote insidiously sneaking its way into a position of power.
Black Panther #16 saw the symbiote seize control of Changamire, an immensely well-respected figure in the Wakandan hierarchy. Since the rule of T'Challa's father, T'Chaka, Changamire was at one point exiled for his stance against the monarchy. The philosopher and tutor returned during T'Challa's rule, and proved an influential voice with so much sway that he freed swathes of citizens from Zenzi's mental control during an attempted coup on the kingdom.
That same voice now speaks in unison with the mysterious symbiote's. Changamire's mind comes with a wealth of knowledge about decades-worth of Wakanda's political inner workings, history, culture... and vulnerabilities. By controlling Changamire alone, there are dire possibilities as to what the symbiote could do; but if the parasitic alien were putting itself into a position to control T'Challa himself, then his current host would be well-poised to do even more damage.
The political and military possibilities at play grant the symbiote the possibility to be more dangerous and deadly than Carnage could ever hope, arguably even with the suit of Knull. While Carnage rampages out in the open, amassing an army of his own on his quest to consume the codices and bringing him closer to releasing a dark god in Absolute Carnage, oftentimes the most dangerous threats are the ones no one is expecting. The heroes of Marvel are free to fight and resist Carnage out in the open, but if another symbiote operates in the shadows behind the most powerful nation on Earth -- and in the galaxy -- there may be no way for them to stop the threat before it is far too late.