This week Ta-Nehisi Coates and Daniel Acuña embark on a new story arc that puts Black Panther in space searching for Earth aka Wakanda Prime. It’s trippy, intensely beautiful, and a whole new epic story for Black Panther and his people. Based on what these two creators built this new story arc is still only the beginning.
So what’s it about?
Read the preview.
Why does this matter?
The ideas in this comic are big. The basic gist: Wakandans left Earth two thousand years ago and established an Empire in the cosmos. A war is being waged, ex-slaves rose up, and more conflict is coming. It’s a mind-blowing idea and should not be missed.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
On the opening page, Coates summarizes how we got here and one caption stands out. It reads, “This is the story of a hero who was reduced to a slave, a slave who advanced into a legend. The story of a king who had lost his country…and now must find it again.” The hero’s journey is at work here and it is huge in scale thanks to Coates and Acuña thrusting Black Panther into space. Like a ship at sea, he wants to find his people but can’t. When the comic cuts to Black Panther he is relentlessly searching for Wakanda Prime, sucking the remaining energy from the ship to do so. It’s a risk, but he must find it. By the end of the issue, it’s clear the start of a journey home has begun, but clearly, there are folks who will stand in his way.
The issue does a good job setting up supporting characters and antagonists too. We check in with Storm more than once, for instance, and it’s clear folks close to Black Panther are growing tired of him and his obsession with Wakanda Prime.
Acuña is putting in some incredible work here thanks to the color and the lighting he utilizes. The spaceship scenes are dark and only lit by the control panels which glow red, blue, and orange. It casts an eerie look and allows the bright and colorful cosmos to shine through the windows. The star charts Black Panther is studying are incredibly detailed and fun to linger on. By contrast, the scenes on Wakanda Prime are bright and almost heavenly in how they are lit. It’s a stark contrast that sets both worlds apart nicely.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
If you haven’t read the previous chapters I’d wager you’ll be quite lost. It’s not immediately clear who the main antagonist is, for instance, and it’s further confusing since it’s not clear if this story is happening now or not (though I assume it isn’t). There are some politics that create a sense of drama that is afoot here too which I’m not completely clear on. As the first issue in a new arc, it does just enough for you to get by, but it’s a bit muddied as far as what the arc will really be about.
Is it good?
I liked this issue and simply love what Acuña and Coates have done with the bigger story. Black Panther has never felt so big in scope as war wages in the cosmos.