Black Panther #3 allows a few more drops in the drip feed of details surrounding T’Challa and his uncertain place in the future. However, don’t expect this to be an issue free of laser-shooting, spacecraft-exploding action. Does the issue balance these two modes of storytelling well?
Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates continues to play his cards very close to the vest with regards to the mystery of T’Challa’s place in the intergalactic empire of Wakanda. Just as we begin to get a few hints about T’Challa and the legends surrounding him, Coates shifts the plot into more all-out action. I continue to love the sci-fi laser battles in the series, but I can’t help but wish Coates allowed the characters to breathe just a little longer between the fights against the imperial forces.
Not only am I hungry for more clues surrounding the plot, I want to get to know this story’s versions of M’Baku and Nakia more, which is proving difficult with the constant shifts to action over conversation. Nevertheless, the action scenes continue to delight and make me feel like I’m reading an Afrofuturistic Star Wars story with lasers flying all over the page and dramatic characters with imposing presences. There is also an excellent moment near the end of the issue that really pushes the idea of Wakandan Afrofuturism in a way that leads to a dramatic, exciting reveal. The fight choreography in that moment is especially well done, but I can’t specify why I liked it without getting into spoiler territory.
Just as in the past two issues, Daniel Acuña’s pencils, inks, and colors are set to stun. As usual, character renderings are clean and consistent, and the environments are just detailed enough to impress without cluttering up the page. The pencils and inks drop in detail in some panels, but Acuña’s coloring work more than makes up for these moments. There’s so much purple in this issue that pops in contrast to the darker colors on the page, especially when T’Challa taps into his panther sense, lighting up his pupils with the same purple energy similar to the vibranium-based attacks that were featured in earlier story arcs.
There’s another page where electric greens are used to convey a bright light in a dark space that bounces off the maroons’ uniforms nicely. These color choices really convey Acuña’s eye for sci-fi flair and allow the pages to look vibrant and futuristic while still maintaining a serious tone. Joe Sanino’s lettering matches Acuña’s colors well whenever an explosive sound effect is needed, and his word balloon placement never felt like it was covering up too much of the gorgeous artwork.
Overall, Black Panther #3 is another exciting, action-packed read, even if I wish there was more done in terms of character and plot development. The reveal at the end of the issue definitely made me excited to read more and confident that when the plot really picks up pace, we won’t be disappointed by the confrontations to come.