In Black Panther #14, “Avengers of the New World” continues as T’Challa searches for the truth behind why Wakanda’s gods have disappeared. Is it good?
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Wilfredo Torres
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The first thing that sticks out in this issue is the artwork. It is a bad omen of the issue’s overall quality, however, that the art doesn’t stand out in a good way. I don’t tend to comment on changes in artistic teams unless something about the change hinders the flow or cohesion in a story, which unfortunately is the case here. The shift in pencillers from the series’ first arc to its second feels more abrupt given that, even if this arc has a new title, it is very heavily tied to what came before it.
Even if the nature of the plotline didn’t invite immediate comparisons, the artwork in this issue is weak in its own right. Characters are frequently rendered with a mixture of painfully little detail and flawed anatomy. I’m not of the opinion that art has to be photorealistic to be good by any means, but I still believe artistic styles should show some consistency within themselves. The line-art here is inconsistent in such a way that it feels rushed, and like the lack of detail is a result of time constraints. Otherwise questionable renderings of anatomical and facial expressions can be made appealing if the style utilized has some sort of flair, but this art is just boring. With static panels and little sense of motion, there’s nothing to make up for how misshapen a lot of the characters’ bodies are.
Unfortunately, the writing in this issue doesn’t fare much better than the artwork. Ta-Nehisi Coates makes what feel like some of the biggest missteps of the series, as several new (at least in terms of this storyline) characters are introduced, but none of them are imbued with much life or personality. T’Challa’s dead ancestors are, disappointingly, dead weight. They contribute nothing but what the plot dictates they must, giving T’Challa the information he needs to go elsewhere and meet another boring character. Meanwhile, we keep getting short scenes with this arc’s villains-to-be, and they prove nearly as boring as the protagonist. There’s a little bit of lip service given to the questions of government that helped make the first arc so interesting, but nothing deep enough to make up for the issue’s overall lack of substance.
The best thing I can really say about this issue is that it isn’t terrible. There are individual images or portions of panels that are much more skillfully drawn than the rest of the issue, but they don’t make up for the art’s faults in other areas. The art is typically at its best where backgrounds are concerned. The foregrounds, however, are nothing to write home about. Colorist Laura Martin does a notably good job, but colors alone cannot atone for stale pencils and narration. Hopefully this arc will pick up considerably in future issues.