The mystery of the Gods of Wakanda must be put on hold for the Black Panther while he investigates the disappearance of a former flame, Asira, by the Fenris Twins. He leaves Ororo Munroe, AKA Storm of the X-Men, to go out and use her powers to tap into the nature of what is going on in Wakanda. Before T’Challa leaves for the U.S., though, he hears a disturbing report from one of his advisors that there are rumors of worship of a new god in one of the provinces of Wakanda.
Upon arrival in New York, the Black Panther, his N’Kano, Asha, and the Hatut Zeraze (the White Wolves) go to Club Fenris. There, they must battle the Fenris Twins, members of the Wrecking Crew, and a myriad of other known rogues to be able to find Asira — if she is still alive.
Compared to much of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ issues of Black Panther, this one is a little light on plot. What it lacks in plot advancement, though, it makes up for in action beats and good character moments.
The fight at Club Fenris is cool, with the Black Panther’s team having to deal with the likes of the aforementioned Wrecking Crew, Jack O’Lantern, and Whirlwind.
The slow scenes with Storm are pretty cool, too, and give parts of the comic an ethereal vibe. The rumors of a new god rising in Wakanda is enticingly ominous, as well.
The most striking moment of the comic, however, isn’t anything I have mentioned yet. It is the conversation that T’Challa has with Dr. Eliot Franklin, aka Thunderball of the Wrecking Crew.
I’ve always loved the meat-headed knee-breakers of the Wrecking Crew. They’re fun, colorful, and they have that Central City Rogues vibe where they are criminals, but they’ve never been especially vicious or cruel (with the possible exception of Siege).
Thunderball has always been the most interesting member, as he has been given the most unique character moments. He’s actually a scientist. He’s always been the one to challenge the Wrecker. He was the one to question whether or not they should be desecrating Asgard during Siege, and he was the one who went out on his own to join the Hood’s Illuminati in that last admittedly awful run of that book. Many writers have allowed Eliot Franklin moments of individuality that the other members, short of the Wrecker himself, have never been given.
Coates does the same for Thunderball here, giving him a moment of self-doubt and remorse. T’Challa sees him after the battle with the Fenris Twins and tells Dr. Franklin how much he respected his work in gamma research. Franklin brushes it off saying that he is only the “Black Bruce Banner.” T’Challa pushes past that and tells him “You are Dr. Eliot Augustus Franklin,” and that he believes that he can be a good man again.
This was a really touching moment, and it gave this comic a nice impact. I hope that Dr. Eliot Augustus Franklin comes back to the title in future issues. Maybe T’Challa could give him asylum and a position in a science division in Wakanda.
Chris Sprouse’s artwork is strong with a clean aesthetic, a lot of expression, and a lot of kinetic energy in the fight scenes. While a whole lot of the battle in Club Fenris isn’t shown, what is played out before us looks very nice. The inking work and color art backs it up wonderfully, and the comic comes out looking really good.
Ta-Nehisi Coates once again proves that he was just about the perfect choice to take on Black Panther. With good character moments, an enthralling plot, and a protagonist who is easily among the coolest and most interesting heroes of both of the Big Two’s gallery of heroes, Black Panther #16 easily earns its recommendation.
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