Previously in Black Panther #7
The battle is over but the war is still underway with T’Challa and his Crew making quick work of Ezekiel Stane and his motley crew of “technical advisers”. The King’s focus on eliminating Stane to weaken The People’s influence across Wakanda was an inspired effort though shortsighted. The Midnight Angels remain active and have consolidated all the fringe cults into a single fighting force. Changamire has become an active political dissident, and in spite of their early defeat, it is merely a setback for The People and their calculating sponsor Stane. It’s a certainty he’ll never underestimate T’Challa in future encounters.
Still, issue eight was a gratifying ending to a well-conceived, enthralling narrative by Ta-Nehisi Coates that also favored us with Chris Sprouse’s sharp, kinetic visuals featuring Marvel’s more rhapsodic and powerful characters kicking all kinds of ass. While this chapter in T’Challa’s journey is seemingly closed, a new door is kicked wide open by the return of his dearest sister. How the King reacts to the knowledge Shuri intends to restore to their wayward people will be interesting, to put it mildly. In the first seven issues of Coates’ run, T’Challa has been anything but predictable.
It’s been a trying experience to know who exactly is T’Challa when he doesn’t even know himself. He wants to assert his authority and demonstrate his power among his subject as well as the enemies at the gate. Yet the King remains conflicted about showing a gentler hand to his people. Concurrently, his ego urged him to seek council with the world’s deplorables and kept him from seeking the help he desperately needed in fighting Tetu until the last moment. However in this issue, T’Challa appeared content in relinquishing everything for the chance to save Shuri from the otherworldly realm where her soul resided.
On one hand, it’s been an illuminating excursion into a corner of the Marvel universe that’s seldom ventured. Coates has applied innumerable layers to a character that only recently has been giving more weight and credence in the grander landscape of the publication’s grandiose story arcs. However, imbuing T’Challa with this newfound complexity in the midst of an already expansive and majestic narrative could hinder one or the other. Thankfully “A Nation Under Our Feet” appears to have closed in a satisfying resolution as Luke, Misty, Ororo and Eden fought admirably in staying Zeke Stane’s rise to power. The war isn’t close to being over, not with Tetu and Zenzi still on the loose. Delightedly, the King is that much closer to restoring order among his faltering nation and the renewal of its spirit, thanks to her sister.
It’s been a long time coming and by God, was it worth the wait. The murkiness of Black Panther’s sociopolitical intrigue along with T’Challa’s personal struggles have been a consistent draw since the first issue dropped. Although Shuri’s endeavors to find purpose of heart and mind within the Djala has been one of the better plotlines in all of comics this year. In her final story with the griot, Shuri recalled the woman who renewed the fighting spirit of Wakanda’s earliest tribes after constant defeat at the hands of foreign invaders. Although Sologon, Queen-Mother of the Bako tribe, emerged as a soaring force that heralded the fifth dynasty and ultimately founded the strength and vigor of modern Wakanda, her journey in becoming the ruler of men was more noteworthy and quite possibly a foreshadowing to Shuri’s noble purpose in this all-new Marvel.
Now that the Damisa-Sarki and newly appointed Aja-Adanna have reunited, it’s not entirely guaranteed their respective goals to improve Wakanda’s standing in the world once more will mesh. It’s the age-old conflict between the head and the heart, the strength of hand or vitality of soul, which should take precedent over the other. We can only hope brother and sister can see eye to eye but knowing each has endured awesome and edifying endeavors in their own right, it is more likely T’Challa and Shuri will inevitably widen the schism before Wakanda is whole yet again.
Black Panther #8