The Black Panther movie comes out in February of 2018, so now’s a good time as any to start moving up any Black Panther titles you’ve been hoarding to the top of your TBR queue. You’ve got about six months to get schooled. And, if you don’t any Black Panther titles on your TBR list then I need you to look your life choices…
In May, I finished Book One of Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The comic is a rich and contemplative look at Wakanda, a fictional African nation in political turmoil thanks to the uprising of a terrorist group called The People.
Book One is a bit of a slow burn. And though there are a handful of actions scenes to carry you through, the quiet moments often say more about our characters than panels of ass-kicking. In one panel, T’Challah and his step-mother are discussing the political unrest of their country, how to appeal to his disillusioned people and what it means to be a leader. All while eating breakfast in what appears to be a completely open-air, banister-free balcony about 100 floors up a skyscraper. T’Challah (chill af) calmly walks up to the precipice, looks out on to the city skyline, at the edge of certain death while his step-mom eats freakin’ avocado toast like a bawse.
Later, when T’Challah’s stepmother revisits with an old friend in an appeal for support, they exchange intellectual observations:
“Wakanda has all the intelligence that any advanced society would want, and none of the wisdom that any society needs.”
Boom, mic drop.
I’ll admit, this is not the best title for new Black Panther readers, or even Marvel newbs. There’s no origin story and not a lot of clear exposition to explain the country, who’s who and what’s what. For a proper introduction, I’d actually recommend the 2010 animated mini-series expertly voiced by actors like Djimon Hounsou, Alfre Scott and Kerry Washington.
I think this was a comic made for readers and after an interesting, albeit sluggish start, I’m hopeful for a big pay-off.
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My rating: 3 of 5 stars