Previously in Black Panther #5
Black Panther #6 | Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates | Cover: Brian Stelfreeze | Artist: Chris Sprouse | Inker: Karl Story | Color Artist: Laura Martin | Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino | Publisher: Marvel
As usual – though never taken for granted – Chris Spouse and Karl Story have been a fantastic addition to Black Panther in Brian Stelfreeze’s brief absence. In a medium which visuals are paramount to the flow of a story, the duo coupled with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ superb writing have created a book that is an essential in everyone’s pull list. And there cannot be enough praise for color artist Laura Martin, who consistently evokes a true depth and dynamism in every panel with her aesthetic savviness. However, her technique has truly shined as Shuri learns more about the history of Wakanda in the Djalia.
Underneath this display of vibrant and energetic art lies an increasingly clouded narrative; lines are being drawn in the sand before all eyes are open. From King T’Challa and his right hand Hodari, to Ayo and Aneka and Changamire, each has their own truths to the recent undoing of Wakanda. While tension rises and brother fights against sister, Shuri receives greater insight about her nation’s inception and how its collapse may have begun much earlier than many suspected.
In the Jabari-Lands, Aneka and Ayo have amassed their army and await T’Challa’s response in the form of his Hatut Zeraze. From the first issue, the King and his Taifa Ngao have sought to restore order in Wakanda in their respective fashions; the most disturbing trait shared in both parties is their absoluteness sired by slanted virtue. Be it Hodari’s insistence in eliminating every threat with brutal alacrity or T’Challa’s more “humane” stance – exposing the head of the snake rather than scorching the earth – neither one appears entirely receptive to the concerns of those who promote fundamental change. From this reviewer’s take on what has occurred in the last few issues, T’Challa does want to seek justice and promote peace… but they can only manifest as he defines them.
Changamire is a respected voice among academia and the citizenry and finally has taken an active stance about the “massacres” that occur in Wakanda. Like many who thrust themselves in the light of a cause, Changamire’s passion for change is admirable though twisted because of charismatic influences like his former student Tetu. As Ramonda told him in issue four, he’s a man who has preached more than he’s practiced. Their conversation inspired him to become more, but as politics typically go, Changamire has inadvertently found himself in the thick of a contentious conspiracy that places his people in greater harm.
As for the Dora Milaje, no matter how valid their grievances are about the generations of mistreatment and exploitation of women in their beloved nation, they will be forever branded an enemy of the state. Tetu and Zenzi “save the day” by forcing the Hatut Zeraze to confront their grief and personal objections towards their King’s orders but it’s a temporary measure. The respite gives Aneka a moment to reflect on what her enemy revealed on the battlefield. Although she fleetingly entertains the notion of alternate ways to promote change, Tetu reminds her that eventually they will resort to violence once more. A snake in the grass, this one. It’ll be an intensely satisfying series of panels once the Midnight Angels know Tetu’s true motivations and conspirators.
In a stroke of sheer genius, Coates’ peels back more layers in the already complex individual that is Damisa-Sarki by employing his impressive regard for the smallest details in past story lines. After issue five’s consultation debacle from the world’s worst, King T’Challa perseveres and does as he must to ensure the safety and security of the nation. It wasn’t so long ago that a civil war broke out within Wakanda’s borders and the remnants of a nasty conflict with Doom have found new purpose. In a monologue, T’Challa prides himself on being an exceptional man of science as he injects himself with nanites Von Doom created to spy on every Wakandan.
As a man whose hubris has been detrimental in the past, T’Challa knows thy enemy and bolsters Ezekiel Stane’s ego in his intentional capture. Again using a page from Stane’s playbook, the nanites in T’Challa provide a live feed to Hodari (who we assume is recording Zeke’s highly incriminating conversation), who will orchestrate the defining blow to The People’s leadership… with help from a few friends.
Now that The Crew has been called in, there will never be a better time for T’Challa to end The People. Regrettably, plenty of damage has already been done against the crown and Wakandans, leaving the country forever changed no matter the outcome. Though he made considerable strides under the tutelage of Ramonda, T’Challa has reverted to his old ways to combat his increasing gallery of rogues. The road to war is a dark one. Whether T’Challa can renew the spirit of a broken Wakanda and raise it once more into the light is a task that’s not entirely assured.
The next chapter of “A Nation Under Our Feet” will be available in stores and digitally October 19!
Black Panther #6