Previously in Black Panther #10
Open war is upon Wakanda! Tetu and his People have stormed their way through the country virtually unchallenged as T’Challa, Shuri and their allies fortify the Golden City for their one and only stand. After ten issues of fantastic commentary about the abuse of power, the complacency of the elite, civil unrest and the necessary occasion of renewing liberty and dignity through revolution, the latest volume of Black Panther is steadily approaching its conclusion. Unlike previous chapters that were rife with color and examinations of social injustices, gender inequalities and a deep examination of culture loss, issue eleven was a slightly underwhelming affair as it relied chiefly on physical action, which this series seldom displayed.
After all the poignant monologues written by Ta-Nehisi Coates during his amazing run, number eleven felt oddly diminished, in spite of so much occurring within every panel. Much of what we hoped would happen transpired: The People, steeped in their frustration and misplaced ultimately collapsed because of it; Changamire finally found his true voice; T’Challa humbly accepted his decisions as King had done more harm than good for his subjects; and Shuri remains as assured of her place in Wakanda as she was when leaving the Djala. Naturally, Tetu and Zenzi wouldn’t make it easy for the royals and their supporters. In the chaos of battle a significant amount of Hatut Zeraze and standard military were lost when Zenzi empowered what few soldiers they had on their side into seemingly unstoppable beasts.
Although it appeared the Golden City was on the edge of destruction, T’Challa sought wisdom and strength from his ancestors within the Necropolis. With Tetu defeated, the Golden City still standing and Wakanda (temporarily) safe from its current threat, the real work must begin. T’Challa’s greatest challenge will be ahead of him as he attempts to heal deep wounds among the citizenry – as well as the Midnight Angels who hold the Jabari-Lands secure.
While it was a mostly satisfying read, Black Panther #11 lacked some of the majesty and vibrancy that is commonplace in every issue. Notably, this month’s pages were hastily completed with multiple artists assisting in the finishes and coloring. Couple that with Coates saving most of his poetic disquisitions for bookends (to perhaps allow the action panels speak for themselves) and the middle of the issue feels like a laborious affair. Perchance we’ve been spoiled the last 11 months with such an eye-opening comic. If we receive anything less than thorough criticisms which mirror our reality, it simply won’t cut it. That isn’t to say this issue wasn’t enjoyable. Just not what we’re used to.
In any case, the final two issues of Black Panther are sure to provide all the political intrigue and remarks on social justice we’ve anticipated every month.