We are shown the first encounter between the outside world and Wakanda: the meeting between Captain America and King Azzuri during World War II. The two came to trust one another, and Azzuri gave the Captain the Vibranium chunk that would later become is iconic shield.
After this, we are shown much of the life of King T’Chaka, father of T’challa. We learn how he met his first wife and the future mother of T’Challa, Queen N’Yami. We also get to see much of their relationship as well as an attempted incursion by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker and Hydra into Wakanda.
I’m an easy sell on just about anything Black Panther right now. He’s one of my favorite Marvel heroes, I’m psyched for the Chadwick Boseman-led movie coming out this year. I adore Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chris Sprouse-helmed comic series, even as it seems to be betting far too much on this current arc.
That’s why Rise of the Black Panther #1 was an intense disappointment. Another Black Panther title documenting his origins seemed like a promising miniseries to lead up to the film (have to love that vertical integration).
However, this comic comes off as just a Marvel Wiki entry on the history of Black Panther’s relatives. So much of this comic is just summary told in diary entries from Queens N’Yami and Ramonda. It’s quite dull, and it’s also an interminably long read as a result.
It breaks the cardinal rule of storytelling: show, don’t tell.
I’ve read some bad comics in my time on Bleeding Cool, comics far worse than this one. But I had a lot of difficulty finishing this one due to how much text is in it.
I don’t hate the comic being narrated by the queens; in fact, it’s a good idea. The problem is not enough actual storytelling. Summarizing the events takes out the tension, urgency, and excitement away. Plus, it underuses the artist, who could be showing some of these details in the art without the need for thorough summary descriptions.
There are some pretty dire lines when we do get text outside of the diary entries. When N’Yami approaches T’Chaka to tell her that she is pregnant, he asks if this can wait before knowing what she is there to say. She replies, “Not particularly. You see, I’m already late.”
That’s pretty bad.
Paul Renaud’s artwork is the primary redeeming quality of the comic. It’s quite good, and it does its best to display the exposition dumps in a visually interesting way. Stephane Paitreau’s color art is good to match.
Rise of the Black Panther is a very underwhelming comic. It’s dull, slow, and has you waiting for the end in a way no comic ever should. Give this one a pass. At least the Marvel Wiki is free to access.
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