Previously in Black Panther #4
Black Panther #5 | Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates | Artist: Chris Sprouse | Inker: Karl Story | Color Artist: Laura Martin | Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino | Publisher: Marvel
Formerly titled “A Sword for Lions”, Black Panther’s rousing first arc “A Nation Under Our Feet” continues with King T’Challa desperately seeking any means to counter the growing threat that is The People. As stated in issue five’s recap, T’Challa, Ramonda, and many innocents were targeted by suicide bombers in The Golden City’s marketplace. Tetu and Zenzi’s partner – Ezekiel Stane – wasted little time in recruiting pawns willing to be altered with repulsor tech and sacrifice themselves for the “good” of Wakanda. Having no other recourse, the Taifa Ngao have requested an audience with a handful of the world’s most vile blackguard.
My, how the mighty have fallen… and much further into darkness than expected. Some time has passed since the incident at the marketplace; T’Challa has effectively neutralized a number of cells with assistance from Eden Fesi. Although Damisa-Sarki, Fesi, and Hodari have removed dozens of assets from the field, The People remain an active threat as long as Tetu and Zenzi remain at large. Unfortunately, the damage has been done on both fronts. The Wakandans are in absolute fear of The People; in turn T’Challa is open to learning what it takes to defeat a merciless insurgency. The price for this knowledge is steep: the King’s integrity was immediately compromised after acquainting with men whose business is to trample upon the freedoms of their own citizenry.
A contingent of men from Marvel’s most despotic cities and countries are called upon to share their truculent means of pacifying their respective populace. These representatives of Genosha, Madripoor, and elsewhere all state that Wakanda is weak because it refrains from being its true self: a domineering monarchy. The only way to provide peace for his subjects is to restrict their movements and dole crushing justice that will instill fear so profound, it’ll end any resistance before it can be formed. T’Challa may not take these men seriously (we know he absolutely detests them via internal monologue), yet having them within Wakanda’s borders places the country at great risk. Even if the King doesn’t accept their council, the seeds of bitter reprisal have already been sown.
In spite of the King’s barely restrained rage whilst combating followers of The People, T’Challa retains hope for his subjects that have repeatedly suffered over the last decade of Marvel comics events. He became acquainted with a prospective suicide bomber named Kwabena, who lost his older brother when Wakanda was occupied by the Black Order. What initially had all the qualities of an interrogation became an understanding between two frustrated men who are tired of seeing their beloved nation repeatedly besieged by foreign threats. While no one save for Ramonda and Shuri can truly know what T’Challa has done to prevent further incursions on Wakandan soil, those who managed to pierce their defenses cut deep in the heart – and pride – of the nation.
For Kwabena and many others, T’Challa never appeared to do enough and their anger had to be directed towards someone. Regrettably, it continued to fester until everyone who didn’t share their enmity for the the King and those who served the crown began to pay for it with their lives. At least for this moment, Damisa-Sarki was able to convince a lone foot soldier that his path is one that would only inflict more pain to those who do not deserve it. For his late brother and Wakanda’s sake, Kwabena agrees to become T’Challa’s agent in the hopes peace could eventually be restored within their beleaguered homeland.
As for Shuri, she receives a lesson from The Djalia her entire family could benefit from. Her “mother” shares a tale about their descendants desire, forsaking status and for humility and integrity. What good would be a king if he isn’t concerned about the welfare of the farmer or the potter? While this invading force deemed itself of this tribe’s riches, with no standing army in their way, they underestimated the fighting spirit of the people, who defended their lands through their respective strengths and rose up as one.
Hopefully, this study in solidarity is cleverly laid foreshadowing by Ta-Nehisi Coates about Wakanda’s future by this arc’s end. When or if Shuri will return to our plane of existence is anyone’s guess. In time, perhaps T’Challa will come to realize the advice he received from the “consultants” will only perpetuate the distrust and unrest that simmers throughout Wakanda. Thanks once more to Ezekiel Stane, the Black Panther will have to quell the suspicions of his people after the opportunistic villain released footage that alludes to a transition of a totalitarian government. The uneasiness of wearing the crown has only become that more insufferable for T’Challa.
When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him. ~ Ashanti Proverb
Black Panther #5