Previously in Black Panther #3
Black Panther #4 | Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates | Artist: Brian Stelfreeze | Color Artist: Laura Martin with Matt Milla | Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino | Publisher: Marvel
After weeks (in Wakandan time) of internal conflicts and border skirmishes, the threat of open war is all but assured in part four of “A Nation Under Our Feet”. Once unsure of his abilities as a leader and figurehead for his shining country, T’Challa doubled his efforts in learning all he could about the faction that opposed his rule. The true mastermind behind the disorder remains unknown to him and his taifa ngao, as he patiently leads Black Panther off his game with a series of calculated strikes.
If you believed Ta-Nehisi Coates’s decorous, altiloquent dialogue was prolific last issue, then prepare yourself for a mini-discourse on the sociopolitical ramifications of inciting sectarian violence in an economically and scientifically progressive yet morally stagnant monarchy. Don’t get me wrong: Coates has done wonders for a character/society/country whose place in the Marvel Universe had undulated between prominence and ambiguity for decades.
For the casual reader, the subject matter and means by which it’s written may be too Shakespearean for their tastes. Nevertheless, Coates’ injection of real world issues in a fantastical landscape that promotes the value and necessity of dynamic, complicated, fully realized African heroes and villains is sorely needed.
The fourth issue of Black Panther gave Ramonda a considerable amount of panel time, signifying her place as the anchor of the royal line. The Queen Regent engages both T’Challa and former adviser Changamire in the necessities of the monarchy and the duties it entails. Ramonda’s pragmatic view of Wakanda is touched with a bit of optimism in spite of her nation’s current turmoil. The Queen recognizes Changamire’s concerns for the lethal ramifications both opposing ideologies may enact. However Ramonda reminds her former beau that he’s had the luxury of espousing notions of an ideal society to his students but never once accounted for the social and financial hardships in building and maintaining a functioning society.
After Ramonda bursted Changamire’s bubble, she attempted to boost T’Challa’s esteem by suggesting he become less concerned with the safety of the people as Damisa-Sarki (Wakandan for ‘The Panther’), but form a deeper rapport with them on their level as their humble king. Just as the royal family is warmly received by their people, the absolute worst occurs and forces T’Challa to revert to the hard-boiled defender of the Panther Cult.
While Coates had made compelling arguments for both sides throughout ‘A Nation Under Our Feet’ it shouldn’t be surprising when a character who holds the most ardent, fundamental beliefs turns out to be the biggest hypocrite of them all. Tetu’s brusque personality coupled with his abundant egotism is enough to make the Midnight Angels pause during his proposal to form a larger insurgency. The question isn’t whether they’re on the same page – removing T’Challa from power – but if they can trust each other once their shared goal has been accomplished.
Ayo and Aneka have been extremely effective in ridding Northern Wakanda of its traffickers and brigands, as well as consolidating the ancient clans that were left in obscurity. Who is Tetu to them but another man with a slanted agenda and much to prove? Ultimately, their decision to remain distant allies was the correct choice as Coates reveals this holier-than-thou “shaman” is the biggest charlatan of them all.
Tetu, a soldier who suddenly became attuned to what we all assumed were recently activated, naturally manifested powers, is nothing more than a patsy and client of Ezekiel Stane. For those not completely aware of Stane’s place in the Marvel universe, simply put he’s a villainous Tony Stark but younger, smarter, far more devious and flaunts an unrivaled ego.
An impassioned futurist and bioweapons manufacturer, Coates alludes that Stane is the culprit responsible for the Tetu and Zenzi’s enhancements. Having mastered the disciplines of “particle physics, nanotech and biomechantronics”, Stane now appears to challenge his vast intellect by establishing a puppet government in one of the world’s most powerful countries. What better way to have full access to plentiful resources than to place your own asset on the seat of power? Although The People’s insurrection energized a number of players into a multilateral revolution, its success entirely rests upon the shadowy machinations of a duplicitous outsider.
Black Panther’s first arc ends in a frenzy, placing T’Challa at wit’s end and effectively issuing open war on The People. The weariness and weight of doubt the King had felt in the first four issues suddenly and aggressively transmuted to a inexhaustible amount of rage. Now that Ramonda is hospitalized and Shuri remains in stasis, there is no one T’Challa can fully trust as his personal counsel. The kindly ruler who scarcely presented himself to his subjects must be put aside for the Black Panther, unyielding and undeterred to bring all his enemies to justice… or whichever manner they reach their end.
Black Panther #4