Previously in Black Panther #2
Black Panther #3 | Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates | Artist: Brian Stelfreeze | Color Artist: Laura Martin | Letterer: Joe Sabino | Publisher: Marvel
A seminal issue in Ta-Nehisi’s Coates’ young series, Black Panther has already thoroughly covered the political and social ramifications of a proud African nation that has only now, after centuries of subservience to a mindful monarchy, begun to find its voice. As we’ve mentioned in previous reviews the more recent attacks on Wakanda have mirrored the current political air that’s lingered in the West. The constant threat of incursions by superhumans has only made Wakandans all the more desperate to take their power back. The only question is are how far are they willing to go to ensure their safety. Can they abandon the amenities of contemporary life and forego the “evils” of technology to recall the trueness and spiritual attainment they supposedly lack?
While T’Challa has become strengthened from his encounter with Zenzi in issue two, his enemies are equally determined to create a new order and are seemingly genuine in their goal to form an union for the people. For us readers, Coates has created a compelling argument for either side on who’s better suited to lead Wakanda into the future. While its old guard, the Taifa Ngao, have narrowed their focus in quelling the resistance to restore order, their opponents have fed on the fervor of the innocents who have suffered at the hands of Doom, Namor, Thanos, and ultimately the criminal underworld that’s flourished since Wakanda’s defenses have been compromised.
In part three of ‘A Nation Under Our Feet’, Coates introduces the rich spiritual origins of the Wakandan people that have been dismissed and quietly forgotten in the advent of technology and the prosperity earned from their precious vibranium. Though the varying religions and traditions of Wakanda have been gleamed over in previous volumes over the years, Coates has embraced the challenge of shaping the mythology for an integral part of Marvel publication history that’s been sorely in want.
The long forgotten mysticism of Wakanda bookends issue three, with the leader of The People, Tetu, drawing upon the earth to either enhance his now-unveiled abilities or become the conduit for the country’s spirit to carry out its will. The litany of The Tree is a stark reminder of the cost of progress for humanity in general: after all the pain and blood spilled, the constant conflicts and gross exploitation of resources, it has only resulted in a complacency among us – the descendants – who seek a fulfilling purpose that was dismissed by generations past.
T’Challa and his family have thrived because of the discovery of vibranium. It has provided Wakanda with an abundance of wealth and ushered a new era of receptivity to the rest of the world. Unfortunately the exposure to the perils of the Marvel universe have been too much for the small nation to bear, hence the rising of The People. With every encounter, King T’Challa becomes aware of the disconnect between him and his subjects, unlike Ramonda and the council who observe and admonish from their lofty perspective. It’s difficult to say whether The People are truly in defense of Wakandans given the liberal use of their powers to alter their demeanor. What has been seen so far, The People would be no better than the ruling class, if not a brutal regime that harkens to ancient, conservative traditions.
In the meantime, the Midnight Angels have an action plan to maintain the peace for those they saved from the barbarity of traffickers. Though the duo have managed to create a huge dent in the criminal network, their heroics are for naught as the malefactors have retaliated to great effect. Shaken yet undeterred to protect Wakanda by any means necessary, Ayo and Aneka finally garner the support of other warriors in their quest to unify the belligerent clans scattered across the country. If all goes according to their plan, both T’Challa and The People will confront a formidable regime that may have greater support among those within Wakanda’s fringes than either party could muster in the nation’s most populated cities.
The most evocative segment involved Shuri and her venture through the Djala, the collective unconsciousness of Wakanda itself. Guided by a griot that assumes the form of her mother, Shuri is giving a frank lesson about herself and the life many of her people abandoned once the precious metal fell from the heavens. The former queen’s death may have been highly exaggerated as Shuri’s teacher informs her there is more to be done to restore the vibrancy of spirit to all of Wakanda. For it’s the memories of the past that can save her beloved home’s future.
The variant covers for Black Panther #3 were illustrated by Sanford Greene and Kyle Baker!
Black Panther #3